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Hundreds of children in rural Ethiopia are making a success of their education, thanks to an innovative programme funded by Global Care, preparing youngsters for school. MAMO KATSELA, director of our Ethiopian partners, the Addis Kidan Baptist Church Welfare and Development Association, explains how our pre-school initiative is changing children’s lives.

*Seada is 12 years old. She walks for an hour a day to attend the government-run Gimbichu primary school in the Hadiya region of southern Ethiopia, and is described by her teachers as an “outstanding student”.

But life could have been very different for this young girl. Seada is a former pupil at the Addis Kidan pre-school in the village of Selfe, where she lives with her family. The pre-school is one of five funded by Global Care in rural communities in Hadiya with the aim of introducing children from the age of four upwards to education, and preparing them for formal school.

Seada says that if it wasn’t for the pre-school, she would have stayed at home throughout her childhood, watching over the family’s cattle and raising her younger siblings. “But now my parents encourage and support me, because of the results they see,” she explains.

Seada is one of hundreds of pupils who have been through the Addis Kidan pre-schools since Global Care began funding them 12 years ago. Mamo Ketsela, director of Global Care’s partners in Hadiya, the Ethiopian Addis Kidan Baptist Church Welfare and Development Association, says her story is typical.

He explains: “In very many cases, families appreciate the change in their children after they send them to the pre-schools and they start supporting and encouraging them.”

“Previously the custom was to send children directly to government schools without any preparation and the drop-out rate was high. The pre-schools really benefit the children by improving their school readiness and helping them to transition successfully to primary school when the time comes.”

Mamo says the pre-schools are landmarks in the farming villages of Jajura, Sundusa, Gombe and Selfe, in a region where around 90 per cent of the population live in isolated rural communities, and numeracy and literacy rates are alarmingly low. A fifth pre-school, in the nearby town of Hosana, is attached to a church-run primary school.

He says: “The children learn their numbers, letters and shapes, share stories and enjoy painting and drawing too. Although there are no playgrounds in the compounds, there is adequate time for play, such as ball games.”

A total of 615 children currently attend the pre-schools, beginning in the pre-kindergarten class and staying a maximum of three years. More than 800 have already passed through and moved on to formal education, including more than 440 girls in a region where literacy rates among adult women are as low as 41 per cent.

The pre-schools are giving fresh hope to a new generation, says Mamo. “The skills the children are beginning to acquire in the pre-schools, such as reading and arithmetic, are critical to the economic and social development of our country. Without these basic skills, it is impossible for them to fulful their potential or to contribute in anything more than a rudimentary manner to society. And the discipline of learning taught in school helps them to learn new skills outside school.”

Mamo says the pre-schools have also brought about a gradual shift in attitudes towards education in the communities they serve: “There are still families who want their children to stay at home and work. But many parents realise that through education, their children can get good jobs, earn money and support themselves and their families.

“Because of the pre-schools, the children are much more competent and ready to learn when they join primary schools. There has already been a significant improvement in literacy rates, and the way education is valued is positively changing for both parents and children alike.”

*Amadi was one of the first pupils at an Addis Kidan pre-school. Now 17, he has just completed his secondary education and is about to sit his national exams. 

Mamo says: “Amadi is an outstanding and high-ranking student in his school, and believes the pre-school played very important role in his educational career. He is so grateful to the pre-school, and to the supporting organisation, Global Care, that he plans to serve the pre-schools as volunteer in the future.”

Mamo adds: “I would like to congratulate everyone at Global Care on your 35th anniversary year. Thirty five years is a milestone and a golden opportunity for you to look back on what God has done through your ministry and to chart your path forward. As a partner, the Ethiopian Addis Kidan Baptist Church Welfare and Development Association is very grateful indeed for the ministry of Global Care in Ethiopia. The Hadiya pre-schools are breaking the yoke of illiteracy and communities are becoming more and more aware of the value of education. Thank you so much for your generous support. May God Bless you.”

You can help us continue to prevent school dropout amongst rural communities in Ethiopia by giving via the link below