Community members of all ages and income levels are taking the education of their children to heart and to their pocket books.
The only school Manderina, aged 9, and her friends have ever known was made of wood, mud and straw. There weren’t enough desks or chairs, so they sat on dirt floors.
“I BLAME MYSELF FOR NOT ATTENDING SCHOOL, SO I WISH FOR A BETTER FUTURE FOR MY CHILDREN. THIS IS WHY I INITIATED OUR COMMUNITY’S CONTRIBUTION.”
— DESSELENY BEYENA
Then in November 2012, leaders from Manderina’s hometown of Gamora attended an imagine1day workshop on the importance of community leadership in education. Inspired, Gamora’s leaders left the training determined to see a new school in their community.
That’s when an unexpected philanthropist stepped to the forefront. Desseleny Beyena, a school security guard, was amongst the first to make a contribution towards building their new school. He donated a whopping 1,000 birr out of the 6,000 birr he earns annually from his subsistence farm. Beyena’s generosity inspired his community to pitch in towards raising the 200,000 birr (almost $11,000) they needed as their contribution to build a new school in partnership with imagine1day.
“I blame myself for not attending school, so I wish for a better future for my children. This is why I initiated our community contribution,” says the father of four.
In the meantime, Manderina is busy attending her brand new classroom and doing her homework so she can fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. “When I first heard from my teacher that a school was going to be built, I was so excited, but I wasn’t expecting something like this. We are eager to get to our classrooms tomorrow morning,” she says.”
This Year’s Game Plan
In this third and final year of this project in Sinana, our focus is on working with the community and district leaders, as well as school principals and teachers to ensure they have the confidence and capacity to carry their schools forward.
WE’RE TAKING SOME FINAL STEPS TO MAKE SCHOOLS COMPLETE
We’ll build playgrounds for the schools we just completed in Sinana. Classroom reading corners and library books will be distributed across the district.Students will express themselves through creative writing and art programs.
A FINAL YEAR OF TEACHER TRAINING WILL REINFORCE CAPACITY
Life Skills, Active Learning, Science, and Literacy are hot topics for teachers. PTA members and School Principals will train in succession and transition. All 35 schools will share their experiences and lessons to contribute and learn.
TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS WILL SET GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
Teachers from 35 schools will be guided setting their vision and goals. The Project Advisory Council from the district will evaluate the project status. We’ll phase out and hand over ownership of their schools that are ready.
Located in the lush highlands of southern Ethiopia’s Bale Zone, Sinana is one of the Oromia region’s largest districts. The surrounding mountains are home to the endemic Nyala, the infamous red wolf, warthogs and baboons.
In early 2011, when imagine1day first began discussions with Sinana’s district education office, we learned of the advancements that were already being celebrated. Over the decade prior, student attendance had soared dramatically—up more than 40%—but the district lacked sufficient classroom space to accommodate the growing number of children who wanted to attend school, and overall education quality was suffering. Despite its commitment to improving its education system, Sinana was rated at the lowest grade level in the region.
At the end of 2012, imagine1day entered into a partnership with Sinana to help catalyse a transformation. Over the following two and a half years we constructed five new schools creating access to primary education for 2,000 children, and we launched a district wide capacity building program, providing leadership and professional development training to teachers, principals, and community leaders across 35 schools.
As a result, grades increased, dropout rates fell, and attendance rates grew. The district now has now been given the top grade rating. Now, to ensure long-term success, there is more work to be done. In the coming months, we will train school principals in communication, leadership and goal setting, and provide teachers with further training in active learning, science, creative writing, literacy boosting, early childhood education and life skills.