There’s a construction boom happening in rural Ethiopia.

Empowered through leadership development and inspired by the education transformation we support, communities are taking school construction into their own hands.

They’ve built 437 classrooms and refurbished another 117 in just three months – and funded all the construction themselves.

It’s part of a community-driven education project we’re running to enroll 32,268 out of school children across five districts.

This project aims to shift attitudes on education and empower communities to drive their own education initiatives.

Education is not always valued or sought in rural communities. With a focus on farming, sending sons and daughters to school is too often seen as unnecessary or too expensive.

Not anymore.

We’ve engaged influential leaders – 2,879 to be exact – and provided them with training – 64,072 hours in total – to create awareness about the value of education, strategies to identify and track enrollment of out-of-school children, methods to improve education quality, and ways to promote gender equality.

An example of a classroom constructed by a community.

An example of a classroom constructed by a community.

The result hasn’t just been an incredible shift in how education is embraced, but a wave of enthusiasm to start creating those education opportunities for their children.

Across the five districts, communities contributed USD$196,663 in cash, materials and labor to build and refurbish the classrooms, a colossal sum in a country where the average annual salary is $550 a year.

The classrooms are not a permanent solution compared to those we fund and construct directly, as many are made of local materials like wood, stone, mud and with corrugated iron-sheet roofs. But they are a vast improvement on previous ‘classrooms’ – many of which were simply lessons held under the shade of tree.

And already, 15,343 previously unenrolled children have signed up for school as a result.

At imagine1day, we always say our story is about more than the bricks we lay or the books we supply. It’s about working with a nation to show them what’s possible and giving them the tools to achieve their dreams. It’s about possibilities becoming reality.

To witness the enthusiasm and action from these communities is testament to that.


The Community Driven Primary Education Ethiopia project is a three-year initiative, made possible with support from Educate a Child and our many donors.