The age of 12 is an important time in a child’s life, as the education many receive prepares them for the rigours of high school and beyond. For Fatra Gelecku, from Ethiopia’s Caro community, it was a huge moment for a different reason. She was able to enrol in primary school for the very first time.
The oldest of four children, Fatra spent most of her days making a 10km trek to collect water for her family. Education was not particularly valued by her parents, and the children, especially the girls, were expected to work. However, with the construction of a new school and encouragement from community leaders, Fatra’s parents decided to enrol her.
“I want to be a scientist and travel the world and learn new things,” says Fatra. She is one of approximately 42,000 children who have been enrolled as a result of projects run by imagine1day, in partnership with Educate A Child, to tackle the problem of out of school children in Ethiopia.
The organisation helps communities build new schools and classrooms, so students have more conducive learning environments. It also trains teachers on the best ways to engage students in their lessons. In addition, imagine1day provides leadership training for community members to develop strategies to promote education and address cultural barriers that inhibit children from going to school.
“Before imagine1day’s intervention, there were many challenges,” says Caro School Supervisor Mohammed Husen. “We had no desks, the classes were crowded, and female participation was very low. With imagine1day’s support, not only with construction but also training for community leaders, the community now sees the value of education. They saw the school as an island that belonged to teachers only. Now they have ownership of their school and are ready to support it and their children’s education.”
Marishet Mengistu, a Class 1 teacher who recently joined the school staff and took the active learning courses offered by imagine1day, remarks, “The training is very good. We learn how to engage and encourage students. It is excellent for me and the students.”
With new classrooms, motivated teachers, and a supportive community, worlds of possibility are opening up for Ethiopia’s children; a world in which Fatra Gelecku may yet become a scientist.