Solar Power in Schools: Let There Be Light!


A teacher at a rural school tries to angle the mirror of a sunlight-illuminated microscope towards the window to light a biology slide. A student strains his eyes in the cool darkness of a classroom to read his textbook.

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Often we take for granted the role that power generation plays in everyday education. But not in rural Ethiopia. In 2014, only 12.2% of the rural Ethiopian population had access to electricity (World Bank, OECD/IEA, 2014).

Reliable access to power can be a game changer in rural schools:

  • Lights to read by can allow students to use indoor spaces for studying and use them into the early evening.
  • Microscopes can be illuminated by power instead of relying on the proximity of windows and brightness of the day.
  • Teachers can access the programs provided via Ethiopia’s educational radio and television network (EMA) to supplement their teaching.
  • Teachers and students can use technology devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Alternative power sources, such as solar power, can reduce the reliance on expensive non-rechargeable lithium batteries, as well as reduce the health risks of lighting a space by kerosene lamps.

Roots Ethiopia has piloted solar panel installations in one of our newer schools, Lai Bedene Primary School in the Halaba Zone. With the money saved from using solar power for their educational radio, they are now planning to purchase a television for classroom use!

The installation was so successful that we have implemented it in two more rural schools…Legama Primary School in Wolayta, and Gomora Gewada Primary School in Kembata.

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Reducing barriers that hold back rural schools from delivering a quality education is just one more way that Roots Ethiopia focuses its efforts on improving schools and educational quality.

Help us to light the way to academic success for more students in every Roots Ethiopia School! DonateButton

 

2017: Year in Review


Dear friends, 

The past 12 months have been amazing for Roots Ethiopia. Our team has been hard at work to support local ideas for lasting change. You have made this a year of growth and excellence.  As always, we could not have accomplished our work without your support. We have put together a list of ways YOU have made a difference – add a touch of coffee, some very long days on the road to remote villages, and a dedicated team, and 2017 is a year to remember. We are so grateful for your enduring support!

Happy New Year,
Roots Ethiopia

16
Learning Resource Projects:

3 NEW in 2017

Highlights from our team:
  • Wanja Primary School is a woman-led School in Halaba.
  • 500 textbooks purchased for Ewoqet Chora Primary School’s first EVER library.
  • Over 18,000 students and their families have enriched learning opportunities as part of their continued partnership with Roots Ethiopia.

1 VIP Latrine

(Ventilated Improved Pit)
with Menstrual Changing Room for Adolescent Girls

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170 Students Attending School

with a
Roots Ethiopia School Sponsorship

Highlights from our team:

  • All children received backpacks, uniforms and school supplies, and they LOVED the SpongeBob backpacks this year.
  • We rented a truck and delivered grain to all the families in our program.
  • We listened to a lot of the hopes and dreams the children have for their futures, and we encouraged them to dream BIG!

3 Special Needs Classrooms:

2 NEW in 2017

Highlights from our team:

  • Haile Bubamo Special Education classroom received special education toys for children to learn while playing.
  • 10 children at Wanja Primary School were added to the Special Education roster.
  • A classroom of 18 students in Halaba is now part of our program. There will be a daily snack and transportation to school added as a pilot program here.

60 New Women-Led Businesses

for 3 new Self-Help Entrepreneurs peer savings groups (SHE)

Highlights from our team:
  • Women in our new Usmancho SHE are very motivated to build a strong team for learning and sharing.
  • The growth of SHE in Halaba Kulito  means more women have joined our successful work there and have many successful mentors.

 

1 Office in Addis Ababa
NGO License &  Country Director
*you are welcome to visit us in Hiya Hulet*

3 Teacher Training Programs

Highlights from our team:

  • 2 professional teacher training for science teachers. Over 80 teachers trained in a University setting to help them create a hands-on science curriculum for their students.
  • 1 professional teacher training held in Addis Ababa for 4 special education teachers.
and more ….
Thanks for being part of our journey to support community-identified solutions for education and job creation in Ethiopia. We are ready for 2018!

 

The Roots Ethiopia Team

Back to School: Sizo in September!


In just a few weeks Ethiopian children will return to school. Playgrounds will be full of girls playing “sizo”.

How about these games, from the book “The World of Girls and Boys in Rural and Urban Ethiopia” edited by Eva Poluha? Have you ever heard of  Kuku or Dibibikosh? Leba Ena Police? Or Erkus?

Playground Games

It’s back to school week for so many children this week too. We wish all the kids a wonderful week of learning and play!

Top 10 Reasons To Invest in Wanja Primary School


1. The School is Run By Female Teachers

The staff at this Ethiopian school is 92% women. This is an anomaly in a country where male teachers and students almost always outnumber women. The female director and 12 female teachers at the grades 1-6 school work tirelessly to promote girls’ inclusion and attendance. They also offer extra counseling and tuition support for their most vulnerable students.

2. Duba, An Ethiopian Student

Duba is a 13-year-old girl in the 3rd-grade class. She is her happiest when she is in a Wanja School classroom. Duba was forced to discontinue her education to help support her family but has now shortened her work schedule (fetching water and selling vegetables at the market) to afternoons and weekends so she could bravely rejoin Wanja school. Duba told a Roots Ethiopia team member,

As a girl from a poor family with seven siblings, going to school is not easy. But going to school again gives me hope and purpose in life.

Every day Duba walks to school where her favorite subject is English and her heroes are her teachers.

3. Donations in Ethiopian Education Make A Big Difference

A $50 donation could cover a girl like Duba’s school supplies for an entire year, increasing her chances of success.

4. Ethiopian Classrooms Are Overcrowded

Seventy-two (72!) children cram into each one of Wanja’s eight classrooms, making learning difficult.

5. Help Create Future Ethiopian Doctors

Duba dreams of growing up to be a doctor one day and deserves the proper teaching tools and science lab supplies to make that dream a reality.

6. No Drinking Water

There is no drinking water available at the Wanja School in Ethiopia so children are susceptible to dehydration, lack of energy and illness.

7. Girls Need Private Bathrooms In Ethiopia

Many girls Duba’s age don’t have private bathrooms or changing facilities. This keeps them home from school up to 20% of the month. This project will increase female attendance at school, and allow them to keep up with their school work.

8. Ethiopian Teachers Care For Wanja Students

Twenty-nine orphaned students and eleven special needs students are cared for by the Wanja School staff. These students are integrated into the classroom and receive after-school care from volunteer teachers.

9. Girls in Ethiopia Need Quality Education

Many girls in Halaba, like in most Ethiopian regions, disproportionately fail to pass the exams required to progress to secondary schools. Therefore, without access to secondary education girls like Duba become an exceptionally high risk to repeat the cycle of poverty.

10. Roots Ethiopia is tracking Ethiopian Student Achievement

We value measurable results and will keep you updated on both students’ improved academic performance and passing rates as well as increased enrollments.

Roots Ethiopia needs to raise $22,326 for Wanja Primary School in Ethiopia. Our on-the-ground needs assessment determined the school needs to function at a level its students and staff members deserve. Your generous donation goes directly towards building library bookshelves, a desk for every student, and outfitting Duba’s science class with much-needed lab supplies.

If you and your family want to help us raise funds for Wanja Primary School, to be sure Duba and her classmates thrive, let us know! Also, we have a great peer-funding page. You can build a great plan right from this page.

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Science Teachers – Innovation and Exploration!


November was an exciting and busy month for thirty-nine (39) Science Teachers whose rural schools have received science laboratory materials from Roots Ethiopia. 

The Biology, Physics and Chemistry teachers gathered for a comprehensive 3-day training program in Hosanna in partnership with Hosanna Teachers Training College and funded by Roots Ethiopia.

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There are a number of challenges to providing a hands-on, rigorous education in the sciences in rural Ethiopian schools:

  • Science materials used in lab teaching settings are very limited and hard to find locally.
  • Large class sizes make hands-on lessons with students difficult to facilitate.
  • Most science teachers have not had hands-on lessons during their own teacher training.

Implementing community-driven solutions that use local talent and materials is a priority for Roots Ethiopia. Along with training the teachers and providing resources for their science classrooms, educators were challenged to improvise in their classrooms using locally available goods and components! It was an exercise in creativity that will lead to teachers being able to make experiments and lessons available to students in their rural and remote schools.

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Of the 39 teachers participating in the training, over 20% of them were women. Roots Ethiopia is especially excited that students will be inspired by women in science-related professions.

All of the participating teachers received a training manual for their use in lesson planning, and 90% of the training provided involved practical hands-on experiments. Some of the teachers mentioned they never had hands-on training as part of their teacher training, and they were excited and motivated to use what they learned in their classrooms.

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Your generosity makes transformations LIKE THESE possible. At Roots Ethiopia, we spend a lot of time listening to communities so we can deliver real and sustainable change. Thanks to all of you who helped to bring hands-on science lessons in these schools!

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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Roots Ethiopia Now Supports 12 Schools


This post is contributed by Lynn Steinberg, Roots Ethiopia Board Member, and member of the 2014 & 2015 Ethiopia Field Visit Team.

When I first started volunteering at Roots Ethiopia in 2013, I remember being completely moved when I read the update about the Amacho Wato Learning Resource Project (LRP) in Doyogena, Ethiopia. I had literally stumbled upon a grassroots, community-led organization operating in a region of Ethiopia that held a special place in my heart. I was “non-profit smitten” to say the least.

Books and desks were delivered to ninth and tenth-grade students at this rural school. This would increase students’ chances of passing the critical 10th grade National Exam in Ethiopia. Until this project, the students in this rural Kembata village had no textbooks to study from and no library space, making their chances of passing the test minimal at best.

Students must pass the 10th-grade exam in order to move on to grade 11. If they don’t pass, they are not allowed to repeat 10th grade. The dream of college or university ends if you fail this test. That’s it.

Fast forward a year, and I was in a meeting with the Principal at the Amacho Wato school hearing how test scores and attendance had improved greatly as a result of this school project. Outstanding!

I am sitting just across the table. It was such an honor!

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Hearing the results of the Amacho Wato Learning Resource Project

 

Lynn-chatting
A fun interview with a future leader after the results meeting!

Now it is 2016. I have blinked my eyes a few times, and Roots Ethiopia now supports 12 schools in Southern Ethiopia with 13 Outreach Centers! We have grown to operate in 5 zones throughout the region. We have a loyal group of recurring donors who trust the impact their monthly donations make over time in struggling communities. Our growth is astonishing, and our commitment to rural communities never falters. Roots Ethiopia is sleek and smart and we are dialed in deep to the communities we serve.

You will love this map created by Desta, Roots Ethiopia Program Officer, and local expert.

LRP-Locations-in-2016-800x640

On behalf of Roots Ethiopia’s Board of Directors and our entire team in Ethiopia, I’m pleased to officially announce 3 additional Learning Resource Projects – Yelignaw Gimbichu in Hadiya, Gedalao, and Walena in Kembata.

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The Yelignaw Gimbichu School
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Current bookshelves in Gedalao
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Entrance to the Walana School

As always, we will update you as these projects reach completion. If you would like to support a Learning Resource Project in Ethiopia, please donate! 

 

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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Ethiopian School Sees Results in Hawora


A few weeks ago, our team in Ethiopia visited The Hawora Primary School in Hadiya, Ethiopia.

As this Ethiopian school begins to utilize the resources that were supplied, it was the library that stood out to our team just a few short months after the Learning Resource Project fundraising effort was completed by the Lenssen Family.

Here we go! RESULTS are as follows:

Capacity. Prior to the project, the library could not serve more than 40 students at a time. Now, the school has decided to move the library to a larger space. 70 students can now visit the library together.

Growth. The average number of students who were using the library was only 5 per day, now the library is seeing about 50 visitors per day.

Shifts in Attitude. The number of girls who were using the library was only 2 per day. Now an average of 9 girls visit the library every day, thanks to the boosted morale of the school librarian. Prior to attending the Roots Ethiopia/h2 Empower library training, he admits to being unmotivated, often hoping children would not visit the library so he could go about his personal business. He now says,

“I now consider closing the library as closing the gate of knowledge against this generation. I am now personally motivated to increase the amount of girls visiting the library.”

Increased Hours. Because of the high demand for the library, the school is now open on Saturday.

Community. The library doors are open to students from three neighboring schools that lack a library equivalent to The Hawora Primary School’s library.

Confidence. Before the project and the training, the Librarian and School Director did not allow students or teachers to borrow books. They were scared they would be lost or stolen. Currently, teachers and students borrow books regularly.  The Librarian now has the skills to manage a library properly and professionally.

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Ethiopian students patiently wait in line to visit the new library in Hawora, Ethiopia

Learning Resource Projects reinvent schools and lead to sustainable improvements that will benefit the entire community. Every donation you make to our Learning Resource Projects ensures a brighter educational experience for Ethiopia’s eager learners.

 

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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Roots Ethiopia & h2 Empower Partner in Ethiopia


This post is contributed by Marcie Frehner, member of the 2014-2015 Volunteer Travel Team with an emphasis on arts and literacy. Marcie has been essential in developing the Roots Ethiopia/h2Empower Partnership and has developed a delightful friendship with the Founder of h2 Empower. 

Roots Ethiopia’s work with schools started by supplying tables, chairs, desks, and textbooks to schools in need. Over time, with donor support and a lot of hard work, Roots Ethiopia began to do more. There is a natural continuum to working with schools. First students need a place to be, they need supplies with which to work. The next step is to use these resources most effectively. Along the way, Roots Ethiopia always asked, how do we empower the local community to use these new resources best? How can we support school leadership to manage resources and use them to make the most impact in their schools and their communities?

In 2014 and 2015 I was part of the Roots Ethiopia’s travel team, finishing every evening of work in Hosanna. Every night we gathered in the hotel restaurant and briefed each other on our day. In 2014, Meghan Walsh, Roots Ethiopia’s Founder, found herself at a table next to another woman having similar conversations. They introduced themselves and shared their passion for being in Hosanna, SNNPR. It turns out this woman, Helen Boxwill, was the Founder of an organization called h2 Empower. Helen and Meghan strongly share the belief that the best way to support sustainable improvements in Ethiopian education is to empower Ethiopians to help Ethiopians. A partnership was born.

Helen has been an educator for the past 30 years, she has taught kindergarten through high school, been a Director of Language Arts and then Principal and Coordinator of a family literacy program. She spent one year as a volunteer in Ethiopia, teaching at the Hosanna Teacher Training College. While there, she worked with female students, local teachers, and set up a library system through the town, winning the Teacher of the Year Award from her sponsoring agency.  Read more about Helen’s incredible accomplishments here!

Roots Ethiopia and h2Empower, came together at a time when Roots was strategizing how to best support teachers and schools with new resources. h2Empower shared their knowledge and experience to bring us to that next level.

h2Empower’s vision is to “empower the lives they touch through supporting access to high quality education for all, helping communities develop sustainable improvement in quality of life and increasing connectivity to the global community so that all individuals can reach their highest potential for their families and our greater society.”

The h2 Empower vision compliments the goals of Roots Ethiopia perfectly! 

Roots Ethiopia’s Board of Directors has voted to help fund h2 Empower’s work over the next few months (the work is well underway and we will be updating you over the next few weeks) in the following areas AND Root’s Learning Resource Project schools are FULLY included in this exciting new phase! The collaboration includes:

Librarian Training

  • Training provided by Code Ethiopia and h2 Empower.
  • 8 days in Hosanna.
  • Includes 103 schools from the Hadiya Zone and all of the Roots Ethiopia LRP’s.
  • Training sessions will be focused on 3 different groups to address unique needs: Primary/Secondary/College. Trainers are highly qualified Ethiopian library and literacy leaders.
  • Training sessions will include experience at Hosanna’s first Community Library — which includes a children’s library, a student library, and a computer lab!

Girls Empowerment Training

  • h2 Empower will train gender club advisors and officers in order to develop concrete ways of changing attitudes towards girls and developing a culture of inclusion for all in the school and workplace.
  • Each school has a gender club serving girls to help them complete their education.
  • gender training includes developing girls sports teams, addressing girls empowerment, and discussing issues such as FGM, puberty, and early marriage.
  • Each and every government office has a gender officer to advocate for the needs of women.
  • They will use a curriculum developed by FAWE: Forum for African Women Educationalists. This curriculum has been adopted by the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia.

Your recurring monthly donation help Ethiopians to continue to develop the skills to educate their communities in profound and sustainable ways.

Roots Ethiopia Expands Deeper into Southern Ethiopia


Our Alaba (aka Halaba) outreach site is Roots Ethiopia’s 15th outreach site in Southern Ethiopia! Our local leaders have identified Alaba, a unique Ethiopian region, as being an area in great need of educational improvements and job creation.

What makes Alaba so unique?

According to Desta Seyoum, Roots Ethiopia Board Member and local expert,

Alaba is a small region adjacent to the Kembata and Hadiya zones in Southern Ethiopia. Alaba has a special administrative status with a direct accountability to the regional government in Awassa. It used to be part of the Kembata-Temabro zone, but is no longer part of any zone. It is autonomous, and can be compared to the District Of Columbia in the United States. The Alaba people speak the Kembata language or dialect they refer to as Alabisaa. They are predominantly Muslims, and have a distinct culture of their own. Most families live in round-shaped huts with thatched roofs normally made of wood and mud. Many families share the huts with livestock.  The area looks forward to working with Roots Ethiopia to improve economic and educational conditions.

When an outreach site is approved what happens?

Once the Roots Ethiopia Board of Directors approves a new outreach site, a grant is dedicated to developing the community outreach center in the area. Our skilled program leaders support local leaders to begin selection of children and families for our programs. In Alaba, our local team has already selected students for sponsorship AND has organized IGA’s and SHG’s (Income Generating Activities and Self Help Groups). 10 children and 20 women are ready to get started with school and small business entrepreneurship. The Alaba team will grow, as the site is developed responsibly with full inclusion in all of our staff training and in the quarterly roundtable discussions at our Hosanna, Ethiopia headquarters.

Alaba is Roots Ethiopia’s 15th Community Outreach Site in Ethiopia. Our other sites are in Angecha, Areka, Bonosha, Doyogena, Gimbichu, Hadero, two in Hosanna, Jajura, Shinshicho, Shone, and two in Sodo. Our work is in 3 zones plus the special woreda, Alaba.  Here is a map for your reference!

 

GIVE to our general fund in 2016. Recurring donations (for as little as $21/month) allow us to expand, while maintaining the quality of our existing program work in Ethiopia.

DONATE

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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Exceptional Results at an Ethiopian School


It was a day of celebration when our team arrived at The Jajura Primary School on October 19, 2015. The children cheered and the teachers boasted about the initial results of the Learning Resource Project that Roots Ethiopia funded last year! Check it out!

You Won’t Believe These Results!

The Jajura Primary School, a Learning Resource Project (LRP) that was funded in 2014 reported a 99% pass rate on their 8th Grade National Exam. Prior to providing essential resources, the school reported a 66% pass rate on this exam. The results are remarkable. The Principal, Wondimarium, attributed much of this success to the School Library which is filled with books and is regularly visited by students and staff.

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Wondimarium was beaming when he told us:

“We are so proud of this library. It is unbelievable to see the amount of people checking out books. It is so popular that we remain open on Saturdays, and allow the entire village to use the books.”

There is More!

  • More girls in school! Enrollment of girls prior to our LRP  was 50% of the Jajura Student body. It is now 55%.
  • More kids in school! School registrations have increased from 2,016 to 2,213. Parents are excited about the results and are encouraging their children to attend this school. The leaders at The Jajura Primary School are committed to working hard to sustain these results.
  • Kids helping other kids! They have created a peer-tutoring group. The higher scoring students tutor the lower scoring students. Lower scoring students also receive additional materials to strengthen their areas of weakness.
  • Teacher accountability! They have created programs that hold teachers accountable for planning for success for their students.
  • Motivated students! Of the 34% of students who did not pass the exam in in 2014, 100% returned and passed the test in 2015.
  • Confident leadership! In the entire 8th Grade, 1 student failed the National Exam. According to the Principal Wondimarium, “They will come back and they will pass the exam.”
  • A successful library! The improved library is now open all day Monday-Friday. 100 students per day go to the library. It also remains open on Saturdays, a rarity in any community.
  • Regional acclaim! The school is part of a cluster of 5 schools in the region and 70 in the district. It has outperformed all of these schools and is receiving regional attention as a result.

What’s Next?

The school reported needing science materials, improved latrines, computers, and better buildings. Roots Ethiopia does not build buildings as it is out of our scope of work. However, The Jajura Primary School will be included in our hygiene and sanitation work.  Roots Ethiopia will also improve science materials and we look forward to working with the school to improve its Science Curriculum!

 

Read our previous update about the Jajura Primary School and contact us about leading a Learning Resource Project to transform Ethiopia’s most vulnerable communities!