Special Education in Ethiopian Schools

Roots Ethiopia will transform the current Special Education classroom at The Haile Bubamo School in Hosanna, Ethiopia. In response to several conversations with school leaders, the classrooms will receive audiovisual aids, new furniture, toys, educational cards, writing materials, hygiene materials and sporting equipment. A bright coat of paint and much needed repairs to the roof and door of this classroom will also be included.

The Best Part?

A parent awareness training will be conducted to encourage families to send their children with special needs children to school. Rural communities in Ethiopia often believe that disabilities, especially cognitive disabilities, are caused by evil spirits or are the result of a curse from God. This can prevent families from advocating for the care and education of their children. The Ethiopian Government and community leaders are trying to include children with special needs in the greater community, but progress is very slow and it takes time to change attitudes and beliefs.

How Did Roots Ethiopia Get Involved?

We heard about the Special Education classroom during our 2014 field visit and were intrigued. This past October, we visited the classroom which is the first and only government school in Hadiya zone that has a program for children with cognitive disabilities. On the day of our visit, three of the registered twelve students were there to greet us. Of course, there are many, many more children in this region with cognitive disabilities, but they are often kept out of school. Our Program Director told us that the school was very interested in improving conditions for the children in this classroom. We were ready to listen and now we are responding.

Roots Ethiopia had already worked with The Haile Bubamo School on a Learning Resource Project and we were blown away with the results under the leadership of Tagye Dube. Since our school intervention, the pass rate results of the 8th grade National Exam skyrocketed. Before our Intervention, 43% of 8th graders passed the test. In one year, the number grew to 65.1%.  The Vice Principal is motivated to improve his community. Tagye told us this past October,


“We invited the community to come and see our school and all of our improvements. All of the teachers came and students brought their parents. The parents were so motivated to see college standard books in our library, and three microscopes in our science lab. Then, we showed them we have four computers for teachers to write exams and prepare lessons. Parents were so excited. They decided to help more and the parents organized and collected 37,000 birr ($1761 USD) so we could buy a duplicating machine. Our community is motivated to succeed! This was a big victory for parents too!”

In regards to the Special Education classroom, Tagye said,

“Our leadership cares about these children. They each have unique talents and skills, but no one knows unless they come to school. Parents need to see the joy that school brings and what their children are able to do.”

What’s Next?

The improvements are underway and an outcome survey will be conducted in May 2016. This will measure the rate of change in enrollment and attendance. Roots Ethiopia will also survey the parents to measure their participation in their children’s education and their feelings about the improvements to the classroom. We look forward to updating you again later this year. We also hope to implement the second phase of improvements to this classroom in the future. If you are interested in hearing more about this project, please email us at info@rootsethiopia.org


Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

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