In some communities, imagine1day has to convince families to send their kids to school. In the community of Agulae Maernet, that was never a problem. All school-age children in this community were attending class, and the attendance rate was 98%. The problem here was over-population.

At Agulae Maernet Grade 1-8 Primary School, more than 1,223 students were crowded in a few small classrooms. As a result, students had to learn in shifts; kids in Grades 1-4 had classes in the morning, and students in Grades 5-8 studied in the afternoon.

Ethiopian school children writing in exercise books in an open air classroom

A shortage of classrooms meant student were learning in open air classrooms

Even with this schedule, students simply didn’t have enough room. Some students were learning outside in open-air “dass” classrooms exposed to the sun and dust and wind. Meanwhile, those studying inside were crammed six at a time on desks made for three, and many students, often girls, were left to sit on the floor.

“Because our school is overpopulated, we had to learn in dass open-air classrooms. We sat on stones instead of chairs and used our laps as desks. We recently stopped using the dass classrooms, but my classroom is still so full that I sometimes have to sit on the ground. I’m looking forward to having a comfortable desk and fewer classmates in my class,” says Senait Gebremichael, a 14-year-old Grade 7 student.

Fortunately, in 2012, imagine1day started building four brand new classrooms.

As the bricks were being laid in Agulae Maernet, students were buzzing with anticipation. “I’m really excited about attending school for the entire day. Currently the classes are scheduled into morning and afternoon shifts. When our new school is finished we will be able to attend classes in a comfortable building all day because there will be enough room for all of us,” says Fisha Mehari, a 17-year-old Grade 7 student.

Twelve-year-old Daniel Weldegebrel was also excited to see the new school: “When I was studying in the dass open-air classroom, I had a hard time seeing the blackboard because the sun was constantly shining in my eyes. I used to get headaches because I had to squint all day. Also the wind would blow dust in my eyes, which wasn’t comfortable at al. In my new school I won’t have to worry about these kinds of things.”

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, students like Senait, Fisha and Daniel are now studying in bright, clean classrooms with a seat and a desk for each student. With the space and the tools they need to learn properly, who knows what they will achieve?

“Education is a weapon for development,” says 12-year-old Almaz Gitsadik, “even the uneducated know how important education is.”