Empowering girls and women
This purpose of this project was addressing the extremely high rates of illiteracy in Dibate District, especially among the area’s minority ethnic groups, including the Gumuz. Children (especially girls) were being denied a basic education as their time was taken up by tasks such as tending to cattle, hunting, or collecting wood.
This project introduced the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) model to offer non-formal education to both children and adults. The ABE model allows for a customized curriculum and scheduling that fits with the needs and realities of daily life in the region. One of the main goals of ABE is to facilitate the transition of students into the formal education system.
The ABE curriculum was designed in consultation with village elders and government officials. The subjects taught included mathematics, Amharic (Ethiopia’s national language), science and English. The curriculum also integrated traditional knowledge relevant to the Gumuz way of life, including the promotion of agro-forestry farming practices, natural resource management, and dialogue around conflict resolution. ABE session schedules were modified to fit with agricultural activities.
Some featured results:
- Three ABE centres were built and equipped. Each facility featured three classrooms, a daycare centre, a study room, and a latrine. Furniture (including desks) and school supplies, textbooks and teaching aids were provided
- Two water points were established to provide drinking water for over 1,200 community members
- As the Gumuz language is an oral language with no standard written form, teaching the Gumuz to speak Amharic (the dominant and official national language of Ethiopia) and introducing writing and basic arithmetic skills represented a monumental shift. With these new skills, ABE students can now successfully negotiate when buying or selling goods in local markets, something they had not previously been able to do.
In the words of 11-year old ABE student Yempu Banja: “The opening of the ABE centre created hope for the future of women and girls. I was always helping my family by ploughing and sowing, fetching water, collecting firewood and herding goats before I joined the Shesh Alternative Basic Education Centre The school changed everything. The village children – myself included – are attending classes without fear of abduction as it is located close to home. Our parents’ attitudes towards female education have also changed and now they are the ones motivating us to go to school. An uneducated person means a blind person. I am seeing a bundle of light that can take me out from the darkness I am in.”