When imagine1day first visited Laelay Wukro, 125 students attended school in four open-air “dass” classrooms. They sat on rocks and struggled to focus while exposed to the elements. Teachers only had two chalkboards to share between four classes. These were their only teaching aids.
Some students, like Tesfu, would walk hours each day to find more comfortable learning conditions: “I would be so tired when I got to school and I often fell asleep during class. My teachers would get upset at me but there was nothing I could do. I had to come to school and I had to walk more than 10km there and back every day.”
In 2011, imagine1day built four new classrooms Grade 1-4 classrooms.
Student Tesfu and his friends welcomed the new classrooms with elation: “The best thing is that it is only a 10 minute walk from my home! I have so much extra time now to study and help my family with chores. Before the new school was built, I was spending so much time walking that there wasn’t time for anything else.
“I agree with Tesfu,” says his friend Mahlet. “I live close to the new school too. I don’t have to walk so far anymore and I have much more energy. I am more awake in school, I have more energy and I think that I am able to study better because I can focus.”
Now working under dramatically improved conditions, Grade 4 teacher Tesfay is confident that student outcomes will soar. “ The conditions in the old school were very poor,” he says. “There was rain, wind, unbearable heat and both our students and teachers would be eager to skip class because it was very uncomfortable. The quality of education suffered. However, now we have a building and our students are comfortable and attentive,” he says.
Vegetable gardens offer a source of operating funds the school
Meanwhile, thanks to imagine1day’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) training, the community is practicing animal fattening and agriculture to raise funds to keep the school sustainable, and they are hard at work ensuring that all families send all their kids to school. In just one year, the PTA achieved a 0% drop out rate thanks to their regular door-to-door visits.
“Our goal is to have active participation from the community,” explains PTA Member, Legese Gebregzebiher. “Making home visits are helping us achieve a 0% drop out rate because parents are more inclined to be open and honest when they are at home where they are comfortable.”
Legese even tells us how last year, he helped a Grade 4 student come back to school after dropping out. “When his teacher notified me that he had dropped out I immediately paid a visit to his home. His mother explained that her son dropped out of school because she could not afford to by him a new exercise book. Not having an exercise book to write in meant he couldn’t take notes in class. With no notes he was struggling to study and keep up with his homework so he decided to stay at home to help his family instead of continuing to struggle at school.”
“The PTA decided to solve the immediate problem by supplying the student with an exercise book and pen. Then, we arranged for the family to register for the Safety Net Program offered by the government. This gives them the time and space to become financially stable while keeping their kids in school.”
“We are teaching parents that there are alternative methods to gain financial security other than taking their children out of school and putting them to work. I’m happy to say that this particular student is now attending Grade 5 in Megabit. He is doing well and plans to continue his education.”
Just a year and a half after imagine1day built Laelay Wukro’s new primary school, Principal Gebrehiwet is ready to lead the school to independence. “I can confidently say that we are on the road to sustainability,” he says.
“Your investment in Laelay Wukro did more than just construct a school – it elevated the lives of everyone living here. Through your investment, teachers are passionate about their jobs, students are free to focus on their education, and community members are actively involved in creating a bright future for their family and friends.”