Holiday Coffee Goodness – Our Cup Overfloweth!


As families spend time together this holiday season, we share this as our thank you — for your gatherings around the table, journeying in the car, relaxing on the couch, during spirited conversations, and while cooking in the kitchen. There are so many moments for a great cup of coffee, but the time of family and friends….precious. Make it so.

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Coffee Culture

Here, we often grab coffee in a rush, sipping it in to-go mugs while we race through traffic or spending $5 or more without thinking from an app for mobile pick-up. Ethiopia is considered to be the birthplace of the brew. Coffee culture is slow and steady, a daily ritual unfolded in nearly all households for every member of the family.

Steeped in tradition, coffee has been prepared similarly for generations, with a ceremony carried forward by the matriarchs. Families gather in a communal room for the custom that luxuriates over hours.

One coffee pot, or jebena, holds the ground coffee which is brewed in three rounds. The rhythm of simmering and serving includes blessings for all at the table. The first round of robust coffee, called abol for its strength, is served first to elders and guests. Tona follows, the second round of coffee made from boiling water poured over the same grounds. Finally, the third course, called bereka, symbolizes acceptance as the rite reaches its blessed state for all who share in it. Children are offered a cup of the languid last round.

The invitation to the table is a sign of respect for Ethiopians, who attribute the coffee ritual to the desire to create time and space to transform the spirit. Guests give thanks for good fortune as they drink a cup from each round of the ritual. Families share news, elders debate community issues, children play at the feet of their parents.

Prepared by many hands — some adding sugar, spiced butter, salt, herbs or milk — coffee is considered a benediction to each day, a sacred act of care and sharing to bring a close community together again and again.

Roots Ethiopia lifts our mug to you in a sacred thank you for all of your support in 2016!

SHE Leads! Almaz makes delicious injera


Meet Almaz, a local businesswoman and leader! She lives in Sodo, Wolayta, Ethiopia. Almaz‘s husband became gravely ill and their family lost their entire livelihood when he died. Like many families in Ethiopia, as a woman headed household she and her family suffered greatly from lack of work and no resources. Roots Ethiopia interviewed Almaz and learned she was well known in her neighborhood for making wonderful injera. Almaz was invited to join our Self-Help Entrepreneurs (SHE).

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(Almaz and her son in front of their home)

Her SHE business start-up grant allowed her to start a small injera selling business right in her neighborhood, in front of her home. Almaz has created big change in her life! People come from all over the neighborhood to buy her fresh injera. She built a small outdoor kitchen outside of her home and she cooks and sells injera every day right off the mitadAlmaz and her 5 children feel confident that they can improve their lives with school, hard work, and savings and planning. 

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(Almaz’s kitchen and her stack of fresh injera – she has hired help to run her busy and thriving injera shop.)

Almaz‘s success is possible because YOU provided start-up resources she needed to unlock her potential and lead the way!

This year’s campaign to fund 30 more women in business is underway. You can be part of our continued work to promote women and small business success. Please consider a gift today.  You can give here.

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.

 

Importance of Play in Ethiopia


#SendMeToSchool values the importance of playing in educational and personal development. This post was contributed by Desta Seyoum.

When I was a child, the school days were longer than they are now in Southern Ethiopia. I used to play sports and I was also free to play after school, on weekends, and all summer long with friends.

A school was the place to thrive, not just because I was receiving an education, but because I had the freedom to play, and a sense of acceptance from my peers. Most of the physical, social, moral, and emotional problems I have had in life required the judgment and creative ability that come with a life experience embedded in play.

These days, however, many schools in Ethiopia lack material resources to afford all children the opportunity to play and learn together. Schools are struggling to use sport and play activities as a means to engage children in learning and knowledge critical for their development. School days are also much shorter.

In addition to that, the need for child labor is increasing, and families are forced to take away children’s freedom to play. Children who do not attend school have little opportunity to play sports or pursue their passions and develop life skills. They spend much of their time in focused on basic economic activities aimed at supporting their poor families.

For Ethiopian children, going to school means an opportunity to play sports, and more time to just be a kid and enjoy life. It allows them to follow their drive to play and grow physically strong. This creates mentally, socially and emotionally resilient young people.

Watch these children play in Ethiopia!

 

Give students in Ethiopia the chance to play all day by signing up for a recurring donation of $21/month or more! Allow their minds to grow so they have opportunities similar to me!

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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My Journey to Learning Amharic


This post is contributed by Lynn Steinberg, Marketing Director for Roots Ethiopia.

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Last year I met Meseker, a woman in Ethiopia who sells livestock at her local market. She is the recipient of a small business grant (IGA) through Roots Ethiopia and is now able to send her children to school and pay her own rent. When we met, I said a few basic Amharic greetings and her face lit up. She grabbed my hands in hers, smiled, looked me directly in the eyes, and began to tell me her incredible story. At that moment, I knew that the key to connecting with women in Ethiopia was to learn their language. It is the ultimate bridge to connection and trust, especially with women who are often shy and reluctant to share their struggles. This is the mighty Meseker:

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So, what did I do? I signed up for a 10-week summer Skype course and kept a journal of my often erratic feelings:

Week 1
Holy sh*T! What did I sign up for? You have to be a language scholar to understand this alphabet. This has to be harder than learning Chinese. I need an art degree to write these characters. Why exactly would I need to know the Fidel? Hmmmm…Maybe I will see it written on some paperwork on a site visit. The truth is as of now it would take me 15 minutes to decode one character. This is not Amharic 101.

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Week 4
The alphabet is clicking thanks to the Ha-Hu Puzzle App. How can I speak if I don’t learn my Fidel? Learning the Fidel will ensure that I am pronouncing my words correctly-ish. Kids learn their letters and sounds first, so shall I!

I wish I could skip to “Can I have two coffees and some beef tibs?” I’ve been studying two hours per day including a 10-minute session with my kids. They are so annoying! They learn the vocabulary so easily. I wonder why I need to know the word woodpecker? Really? Will I ever need to use the word woodpecker in Ethiopia?

Week 6
I can seriously read Amharic. I know all 231 characters by heart and I can sound out basically any sentence! Do I know what I am reading or what the words mean? Heck no, but I equate this to when my kids were in Montessori School and learned all the English sounds. They could technically read but had no idea what they were reading. Also, I have built my vocabulary up to way over 100 words. This is exciting!

Week 10
Holy moly, I just read this to my teacher Zodi via Skype! 

“Simey Lynn new. Chapel Hill, Semen Karolina enoralehu.

yeney ayn semayawi new na tsegurey bunama new. sost seyt lijoch aleng. yeney seytoch lijoch sem izzy, kiki, na mitike, new. ye bale simeh mike new. yeney bale esporte yewodal. yeney bale sira yewodal. eney buna betam ewedelahu. eney sira betam ewedelahu.

betam tedestku

behamus Virgina emetaehu. beteqmt Ethiopia yeney betoseb ymetal.”

And I can write in the Fidel as well!

ሲመይ ልይን ነው.
Simey Lynn new.
My name is Lynn

Should you take this course? Drumroll…Yes, take this course! You will love it if you are a nerd like me! Things to consider:

Learning a language, especially Amharic, is a long-term commitment. Don’t expect miracles, but do expect to graduate from the course feeling pretty good about yourself.

Be kind to yourself. Zodi will remind you that your sentences don’t need to be perfect nor does your pronunciation.

You need to put lots of work into this course during the week. Like anything else, if you slack, you won’t learn anything.

Recruit a local Amharic speaker to practice your vocabulary and simple sentences.

Be nice to others who are learning. There are various ways to pronounce the same words. It is all good. We are all in this together. Don’t be the Amharic police. I am guilty of this!

Contact me! I would love to practice via Skype if you sign up for this course. I really want to start an online Amharic club and will do so once I have 4 others who are interested in weekly Skype practice.

Here is the info on how to sign up and please tell Zodi that I sent you!

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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Death and Mourning Practices in Rural Ethiopia


Ethiopians have elaborate traditions associated with death and bereavement. Though death has become a part of everyday life just like war, famine, and disease; people take it seriously, and almost personally.

When someone dies in Ethiopia, in addition to the conventional signs of grief, there are specific characteristics unique to communities in the rural region. The universal grief responses may be the same but culturally sanctioned rituals vary tremendously among the various ethnic, religious, and cultural groups in the country.

For instance, in southern Ethiopia where various ethnic groups co-exist together, the celebration of the dead takes a longer process. Handling the body, managing the funeral process, and the commemoration of the death follows culturally prescribed rituals. The process of informing family members is handled with great sensitivity. News of the death is orchestrated carefully, and done by a group of elderly or respected community members.

As soon as the bad news is announced, people start gathering at the deceased’s home to comfort the grieving family. Families are expected to express their grief openly. Usually, they cry, wail loudly, call out the name of the deceased, and beat their foreheads and chests. Female relatives may scratch their face and tear out their hair, throw themselves to the ground, faint, or attempt to harm themselves as a manifestation of intense grief. Men often chant songs, praise and tell stories about the deceased one.

Young men help with setting up rooms, looking after the arriving guests, digging the burial site and preparing the casket. If the grieving family does not have a large house, a white tent will be set up outside or alongside the street to accommodate people. Neighbors organize materials required for the event such as chairs, tables, cookware, blankets and etc. These voluntary actions are often considered as a social responsibility and give a sense of pride.

Close friends and neighbors also bring food and drinks to feed the arriving guests as the grieving family is not expected to be involved in any domestic activities. The community assumes the responsibility of hosting people who come to pay their respects.

Three days of mourning is the norm, and families are under social pressure to do so even if their circumstances do not allow that. Unlike in many parts of the country where the dead are buried on the same day, in southern regions such as in Kemabta, Hadiya, Sidama, and Wolayita the burial takes place on the third day, sometimes even longer. This gives distant relatives ample time to arrive for the burial. During this time, the body is preserved by traditional techniques using medicinal plants and kept in a wooden casket covered with a new cotton garment.

The burial site is usually near a church compound, or in a local cemetery. Given a strong religious conviction of the deceased, the church building may be used as the final resting place for the dead. The deceased may be buried in a location of their choice, or in a place that is meaningful to the family such as near to their ancestors.

Muslim communities follow a common Islamic burial ritual involving bathing and shrouding the body, followed by a funeral prayer. The burial takes place on the same day.

In both urban and rural Ethiopia, a funeral is a significant event that involves the whole community. It is a big public affair which follows strict rules and religious customs. A typical funeral may be attended by thousands of people with a procession followed by a mass gathering at the burial site. A priest cites prayers for the soul of the deceased, and church choir sings to pay their last respects.

The mourning continues for several weeks or months while any remaining distant relatives and acquaintances arrive to offer their condolences. The tent will remain up for at least a week. Neighbors continue making regular visits and sit with the bereaved together on mats on the floor. Some relatives would stay overnight to ensure that the family is not alone.

When paying a visit, acquaintances may remain silent without saying a word. Sitting down in a subdued mood for fifteen minutes would suffice. A conversation is accepted, but laughter is generally considered offensive. What counts is the physical presence to acknowledge the loss of a loved one. Elderly or respected figures may sit close to the bereaving family; say a few consoling words or a prayer, and then exit quietly. Wearing proper attire something dark-colored or black is preferred.

Throughout the bereavement process, female family members shave their heads, wear black scarves “netella” over their heads, and avoid makeups, decorative clothing, and jewelry. Men grow a long beard and wear black outfit for several weeks.
The magnitude of ritual and the duration of bereavement process may be determined by a number of factors including age, and the social and economic status of the deceased. While the death of a small child may be less ceremonial and attended only by close relatives and neighbors, the death of an elderly person may involve protracted rituals.

Unlike the Protestant Christians predominant in southern regions, Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate the 40th day to mark the end of intense mourning. It involves a memorial church service followed by a meal shared together by hundreds. A small memorial altar is set up at home with photos of the deceased, a candlelight and flowers. Typically, people come and tell stories, share memories, cheer up the family, help them to release any residual sadness and return to normal life.

The intense initial reaction and the prolonged grief seem to help families to cope with the tragedy. Going through all mourning phases may help families accept the reality, and bring a healing that otherwise not have come without this long journey. Feelings of guilt may arise if they deviate from the norm or fail to express grief as expected.

Besides family and church support mechanisms, the Ethiopian society has traditional associations that operate when there is a death in a community. There are various forms of co-operation based on neighborhood, kinship, religious affiliation or any other grounds. These informal associations assist members during the entire mourning process. They provide not only a dignified time for bereavement, but also lift the financial and logistic burden from the family.

Since there are no formal support groups, many rural families for example in Kembata, Hadiya, and Sidama regions are members of one or more local associations called “serra” (“idir” in Amharic). A typical “serra” may consist of 100 households who meet regularly to pay their dues. A certain amount of money will be given to the bereaving family to cover funeral expenses. Depending on the size and strength of the “serra”, funds may also be used to overcome other hardships such as illness or loss of property.

When someone dies outside the hometown or in other parts of the country, families choose to take the body to their community. They often have to deal with the unpleasant logistics or costly flight back home.

Families living abroad may not react to the loss of relatives, in the same manner, one might expect from a similar event in Ethiopia, but they do grieve in private. They may experience social displacement, and exhibit cultural discrepancy as a result of the adjustment to a new culture or dropping some of the cultural elements pertinent to these customs.

These days, however, traditional death and bereavement practices are fading out, giving way to new ways of mourning. The burial ceremonies are being kept to a fairly reasonable level. This could be due to the difficult economic conditions, limitation of resources, increased adaption of western practices, the emergence of sub-cultures or any complex interplay of factors in the society. However, death and bereavement custom still remain as a part of the very fabric that binds the diverse Ethiopian society together.

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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When is Ethiopian Easter, or Fasika?


The celebration of Easter in the SNNPR of Ethiopia is not much different from other parts of the country.

All Ethiopian Christians observe the Easter Holiday. Easter is a widely celebrated occasion throughout the country. This year, Easter falls on April 12, 2015, one week later than the Western Churches. This is because Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar to determine Easter dates.

In the Amharic language, Easter is referred to as Fasika, which originated from the Greek word Pascha. In both Kembata and Hadiya languages it is called “Shashiga”. In liturgical terms, it is referred to as “Tinsae” which means “to rise”. Many devoted Christians also observe Palm Sunday known as “Hossana” and Good Friday “Sikilet”.

Members of the Catholic and Protestant Churches which are dominant in the Southern parts of Ethiopia mark the day by attending church services. Followers carry candles to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Generally, church services are held in somber moods and are not as colorful as on other occasions.

For members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches Fasika marks the end of a 56-day period of Lent. On Saturday night, followers attend a church vigil that goes until 3 am. When they return home, they break their fasting from meat and dairy products.

Easter is an important festival for all Ethiopian Christians as the Resurrection of Jesus is considered more significant than his birth. Easter is also a time for families and friends to get together. Relatives travel from remote areas to join in festivities and express good wishes to their families.

The preparation for this special occasion starts weeks before the actual Easter day. Families are involved in the time-consuming task of preparing traditional foods that include beautiful details, unique ingredients, and lots of passion. They prepare chicken dishes for the symbolic occasion, and lamb for extended feasting. Doro wot (a spicy chicken stew) is the most traditional food served by families during Easter. It is accompanied by Injera (flat bread made from Teff). Home-brewed drinks such as Tella (a dark beer from barely) or Teji (honey wine), is abundant for the occasion. Difo-Dabo (a large and round home-baked wheat bread) is another food that is ready at every table.

Besides the religious aspect of Fasika, there is the ritual of preparation and celebration; the interesting traditional processing of food, the tantalizing smell of baking bread and injera, the roasting of coffee along with the burning of incense, the smell of firewood and smoke that rising from many households, the loud songs of churchgoers, the busy open markets and the noise of chicken and sheep on the streets during this time of year.

You might like to read more about Fasika here! 

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.

What Causes Gender Inequality at Rural Ethiopian Schools?


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As a boy, Desta Seyoum lived a traditional rural farming life in the same Ethiopian Kebele as The Duna-Sadicho School. He remembers passing through Duna Sadicho village on his way to Secondary School giving him many chances to witness the needs of the community.

Desta, who now lives in London, just returned from Ethiopia after a prolonged family visit in the region and was able to talk to us more about inequalities in Duna Sadicho, specifically addressing the problems that girls face in the region. He is very worried about gender inequality at Duna Sadicho School, and quickly pointed out the number of girls drops even lower at the secondary school level as girls are unable to pass the required national exam to continue their education.

Desta explains:

“Many girls in the region face challenges of gender inequality that exclude them from school. Extreme household poverty, walking distance to school, inadequate school resources, lack of sanitation facilities, child labor and marriage, and female genital cutting are among obstacles that prevent girls from education. Lack of education means girls forced into informal labor market at an early age. They will never reach their potential to become positive forces in their communities, and remain trapped in a vicious circle of poverty.”

While data seems to show that gender inequality is narrowing at other area schools, the gender gaps remain a problem at Duna Sadicho. Desta feels that the gender makeup at Duna Sadicho may be largely associated with what happens in the school as well as in the community. According to Desta,

“the lower number of girls may have a direct correlation with the poor quality of resources they have in the school. It may also reflect the level of poverty and poor living standards of the community.”

Desta points out that a gender audit may be required to deepen our understanding of girls’ education in the region. But for now, one thing is very clear to Desta,

“providing basic learning resources is imperative so that girls may have an equitable chance of continuing their education.”

By providing school children with essential learning materials, Roots Ethiopia will help rectify the gender inequality at The Duna Sadicho primary school. These basic learning supplies will give girls what they need to stay in school, pass their national exams, have the opportunity to continue education, stand a chance of going to college, securing an employment and eventually becoming significant contributors to their community.

Help Ethiopia by donating to The Duna Sadicho project today! We are 40% of the way there and need your help in taking step one to rectify the gender imbalance at this rural Ethiopian School.

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. 

 

Leave It to the Kids and Donkeys! An Example of Local Collaboration in Ethiopia


Duna Sadicho is a remote village in Kembata, Ethiopia. How remote is it? Very remote! After our team arrived via a 4WD vehicle on a quite arduous route we were discussing how to get supplies (hundreds of cumbersome textbooks) up to the school once they are purchased locally. The community elders saw no issue with transport at all!

In fact, they suggested that the students themselves could walk down to Doyogena and each carry back an armload. It was as simple as that. AND, they would find donkeys to help with the job as well! So there it is. Something that is a puzzle to us is solved quickly with local knowledge and experience.  A lovely image of community cooperation and a community knowing how to get things done their way.

Learn more and help fund The Duna Sadicho Primary School TODAY!

http://www.razoo.com/story/Duna-Sadicho-A-School-Enrichment-Project

Lead your own Learning Resource Project in Rural Ethiopia:

http://www.rootsethiopia.org/projects/learning-resources-projects/

 

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The Duna Sadicho Primary School sits on a beautiful ridge overlooking Doyogena, Ethiopia.

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A typical donkey cart that is used to transport goods and people in rural Ethiopia.  This one was on the way to Duna Sadicho!

 

Grade Placements in Classrooms in Ethiopia — How does it work?


Roots Ethiopia has been asked to discuss how students are placed in proper grades in Ethiopia,  particularly in the Kembata Tembaro and surrounding region. Placement extends well beyond peer placement because of extensive delay and dropout rates.

We have asked one of our local Ethiopian advisers to comment on his understanding and experience of classrooms and student placements in Kembata Tembaro and the surrounding areas. (Note:  Some of the context of this question was set by Roots Ethiopia class rosters, in which, for example,  a 16-year-old girl is in 6th grade, and a 16-year-old girl is in 3rd grade).

Report on Classrooms, Ages, and Placement

Age is not a consideration when placing children in a classroom, that is the case in all parts of the country of Ethiopia. The government encourages families to send their children to school at an early age (normally 6 years old to begin first grade — see our white paper on education to read more about schooling).  However, it is always up to the family to decide when to send their children to school.  Families in Kembata Tembaro and the surrounding area greatly value education, and families make every effort to make school a priority. But there are many factors that influence school starts, delays, and dropouts.  Ultimately, the decisions are influenced by the family’s social, economic, health, and other factors affecting their lives at the time children are ready for school.

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(Redeit age 9, grade 2 – Roots Ethiopia sponsored student)

When a child (of any age) joins the school, the school has the duty to place him/her in the appropriate skill level, but not age level. Schools do not have the necessary mechanisms in place to provide any alternative or special education needs.

For instance, in the case of Roots Ethiopia, a 16-year-old girl in 3rd grade tells me about her strong ambition and determination to pursue school in the face of adversity.  Whether she manages to get to 10th grade depends on her classroom achievements. But, I am sure her age has little impact on that. For example, when I was a grade 10 student in Hossana high school (this was some time ago, mind you) there were 2 female students in my year: a mother and a daughter. They both completed high school, and have been working as nurses. I remember some students were older than our teachers. My aunt was my classmate as she had to drop school because of family-related difficulties. A significant age gap among classmates is commonplace, especially in the rural areas.

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(Sisay, 15 years old, 6th grade – Roots Ethiopia sponsored student)

It is difficult to assume at what age children may drop out of school. Theoretically, students may terminate classes at any stage if they face one of the problems mentioned in Part 1 of this discussion. But the most critical points are grades 6 and 8 and 10. At these stages, students may have to change schools and seek a secondary school or a high school which is normally located in a distant town center. Families have to make a difficult decision whether to send their children to a remote town.

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(Doyogena High School Library, Kembata)

It was not too long ago, for instance,  that students from Mudula town used to travel to Hossana to attend high school. Now Mudula has its own high school, but that was not the case years ago. In addition to that, the grade 8 national exam determines students fate whether to proceed to secondary school. Grade 10 exams determine again, about progression to high school.

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(Photo Credit Lisa Woll: Primary School in Tembaro)

Programs like Roots Ethiopia help students enroll in school and stay in school. And, the most vulnerable students and families get the support necessary to continue school without interruption. It’s exciting to know that there are programs like Roots Ethiopia helping individual students accomplish their goals.

(This is PART 2 of a 2 PART discussion: Part 1 is on the topic of School Delay and Drop out and is the preceding blog entry)

You can act now, and donate to any of our initiatives. Your donations help us enroll students in school and keep them there. Roots Ethiopia assists with supplies, uniforms, nutritional, medical, and psychosocial support for families and students. Our number one goal is to get kids into school and help them progress without interruption. You can check out these links:

 Donation for school sponsorships

Or this one for the Amacho Wato Learning Resources Project  (COMPLETED — THIS LINK IS NOW CLOSED!)

 

Why Students Delay or Dropout of School In Ethiopia — Kembata Tembaro Perspective


Roots Ethiopia has been asked to describe school dropout and delay in Ethiopia, particularly in the the rural regions where we work. We have asked one of our local Ethiopian advisers to comment on his understanding and experience of some of the reasons why students discontinue and/or delay school.

Desta’s Report on Schooling

In general, most students in Kembata-Tembaro region are keen, ambitious, and do a great deal of learning. Yet, school dropout and delay in grade progression are very common. In my view, these could be the result of a combination of factors.

The effect of family resources such as low income, limited assets, and large family size restrain parents from sending their children to school. Many poor families cannot afford the expenses of school fees, textbooks, clothing, and transportation.

(Children celebrating when new school materials arrive for their library, their classrooms, and their new science room)

Social and environmental issues such as drought, crop failure, food shortage, illness or death of a family member also force students to discontinue school. Normally, children are required to assist their parents in such difficult times.

Many schools in the region are hindered by considerable resource needs. This results in a poor quality of education which can increase the dropout rates. Inadequate numbers of qualified teachers, lack of quality textbooks and teaching materials and poor physical school facilities, such as lack of proper blackboards, tables, and chairs, affect the quality of education. Where school libraries exist, they often contain a couple of outdated books to share with groups of students.

(Science Lab in a Kembata rural school)

Poor education means families can become be discouraged from sending their children to school. Parents would rather invest their meager resources elsewhere and involve their children in farming and domestic activities. Girls are encouraged to get married rather than attending school. While discontinuing school does not bring any good either for her or for the poor family, the decisions must be made and often in moments of crisis.

In addition, geography can influence school attendance. Primary schools are located in nearby villages and teach from grades 1 to 8. However, secondary schools are often located long distances from rural homes – usually in regional town centers. Grade 9 and 10 students must often travel long distances daily or weekly. The same issue can influence decisions for students who do the hard work of qualifying for high school by passing their 10th-grade national exam.  The cost of transportation and travel time can increase the risk of dropout, especially for girls. The question becomes – is it really worth investing or traveling?

So, improving the quality of a school is one of the many important measures to be taken to advance education and to reduce the dropouts or delays in school in the region.

(Library tables and chairs being delivered to a library project in rural Hadiya)

I encourage you to involve in the various initiatives being undertaken by our friends and families of Roots Ethiopia, or other school focused initiatives.

You are also welcome to support Roots Ethiopia’s initiative to improve the learning-teaching environment by providing textbooks, desks, science supplies, playground supplies, chairs, etc. to under-resourced schools.

We always appreciate your support of our work to improve schools. You can find ways to give here: http://www.rootsethiopia.org/donate

Thank you.

Desta

(This is PART 1 of a 2 PART discussion: Part 2 is coming soon and the topic is Grade Progression)

You can act now, and donate to any of our initiatives. Your donations help us enroll students in school and keep them there. Roots Ethiopia assists with supplies, uniforms, nutritional, medical, and psychosocial support for families and students. Our number one goal is to get kids into school and help them progress without interruption.