At the heart of every movement to transform the state of education, are people committed to a future that looks very different from today.
Three years ago, we began a conversation with the Kilte Awelalo district in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray. Children were attending school beneath trees, seated on stones and dirt floors. Teachers were disengaged and learning outcomes were not being achieved. Many parents were prioritizing their need for domestic labour and their cultural and religious beliefs above their children’s right to an education.
“BELIEVING IN POSSIBILITY WAS SOMETHING I HAD NEVER HEARD ABOUT BEFORE, BUT IT INSTANTLY RESONATED WITH ME WHEN I HEARD IT FROM IMAGINE1DAY” — HADAS MEHARI, GRADE 1 TEACHER
When district administrators, school faculty and community members asked for imagine1day’s help, we explained our model: in addition to bricks, mortar and financial support, we would strengthen their leadership so that they would be able to develop their education system independently within three years.
Now, the leaders of Kilte Awelalo’s 60 schools are beaming with pride. In 2013, the quality of education provided to more than 25,000 children in Kilte Awelalo was rated the best out of Tigray’s 26 districts.
In a Grade 1 classroom, students wave their hands to solve the math equation on the board. In the science lab, sixth grade students conduct experiments to test the theories they’ve learned about gravity and electrical circuits. Outside, kindergarten students mingle on the playground. As the principal tours us around his school, he recounts the immense progress made in his district since we started working together three years ago. Dropout rates have dramatically reduced, students are progressing to high school like never before, and community members are now prioritizing their children’s education above all else. With passion, he tells us how district leaders, school principals, teachers and community members in the Kilte Awelalo district are setting new ambitious goals. They are not asking for imagine1day’s guidance or financial support to make their plans a reality any more. Today, they are taking responsibility for their own future and holding themselves accountable.
A new generation of leaders is born.
The Game Plan
Our ultimate objective is to inspire a dramatic increase in the number of children who progress to high school, from Grade 8 to 9.
WE’RE BUILDING SCHOOLS, LIBRARIES, WATER POINTS AND LATRINES
We’ll build five new schools complete with gender divided latrines. Water points will provide a much needed source of fuel for children during the day. Libraries offer a happy place for readers to dive into their studies or a new book.
TEACHERS AND COMMUNITIES WILL DEVELOP AND GROW
We’ll build leadership across the district by developing the government’s capacity. Teachers across the district will receive extensive professional development. Pilot early childhood education programs will be launched.
SCHOOLS WILL BE EQUIPPED WITH KEY NECESSITIES
Across the district we’ll provide books, science kits, and sports sets. We’ll set up student leadership school clubs and creative writing programs too.School playgrounds will be abuzz with children of all ages taking turns.
imagine1day, in partnership with the Kilte Awelalo District Education Office, committed to working with 59 communities in the Kilte Awelalo District over a three year period to benefit over 25,000 children.
Through leadership development programs that we’ll put on for Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), religious and political leaders, and women’s associations; girls, orphans and other vulnerable children who are often at risk of not going to school, will have an equal opportunity to others. By constructing classrooms to serve Grades 5-8, children who would otherwise drop out of school after the 4th grade because the distance to reach Grade 5 is just too far, will now have the chance to continue learning in a brand new school near to their home. Our early childhood education (ECE) strategy will encourage parents to send their aspiring scholars to school at a young age, inspiring education as a household value and resulting in children starting primary school at the appropriate age. Teacher professional development programs and improvements in the quality of school learning environments will bring achievement and attitude changes across the board, and will help reduce drop outs.
This project was implemented with funding support from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. In under three years we surpassed the goals we’d set by achieving an increase in the Grade 8 completion rate from 57% to 95% and a rise from 38% to 87% in the primary school graduates who enrolled in Grade 9.