Access to education is limited in Ethiopia, especially for girls in remote rural areas. Numerous cultural, social, and economic barriers stand in the way of girls accessing education, and once in education, there is a high dropout rate among girls. People in Need’s CHANGE project seeks to support up to 25,000 girls aged 10-19 to improve their learning outcomes, literacy and numeracy, and raise awareness of the benefits of educating girls.
Amina (18) is a mother of three girls, living with her husband in the Afar region of Ethiopia. She was one of 43 students who happily enrolled in classes when the CHANGE project established a learning centre in her village in March 2022. Amina is among the most talented students attending the Cohort-3 basic literacy and numeracy programme at Kebirtobolo Learning Centre. Despite her household responsibilities, she does her classwork and homework regularly. Amina also supports her classmates by explaining what she understands and encourages them to do their classwork and homework properly. She is also an active member of the girls’ club at the centre.
“I am lucky, because neither my parents nor my husband are educated. But they encourage me to attend classes. They value my education and support me in caring for my kids while I attend school. Now, I can read and write, and I will send my daughters to school when they reach school age,” Amina says.
She aspires to reach the highest level possible, and she wants to attend college. Girls in her village are victims of harmful traditional practices. Among the most harmful practices is female genital mutilation (FGM), which is still practised in her village. In addition to this, early and arranged marriages are also still practised. Amina hopes to advocate for change in these harmful traditional practices.
“I want to study psychology and support my friends and women who suffer greatly from these practices.”
Education is still the first
So far, People in Need (PIN) and our partner organisations have constructed 129 learning centres, and 25,000 girls have enrolled in our alternative learning programmes. About 184 Gender Clubs were established to emphasise the importance of girls’ education and to create a safe space to discuss protection issues. So far, we have supported 4,200 families with cash to enable girls to continue their education.
Going to school is especially difficult for people with disabilities. Marta (18) could talk about in detail. She has difficulties hearing, which began at age eight because of an infection developed in both ears. She does hear many sounds and does not respond; this has created significant hurdles to following along in class. Thanks to the CHANGE project, Marta was diagnosed and supported with a hearing aid. Nowadays, she regularly attends the learning centre and participates in classroom activities with her classmates.
Education for girls in Ethiopia
Economic independence is an integral part of gender empowerment. More than 12,000 girls will transition to vocational training and income-generating activities to help them to find jobs and strengthen their self-confidence.
We will establish 650 self-help groups; women and girls gather together and become stronger. Self-help groups provide life skills, psychosocial care, and income-generating activities. For example, women at Kola Motte kebele established a tea shop together.
The CHANGE project (2018-2023) in Ethiopia is funded by UK aid through the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC). Launched in 2012, it is a 12-year commitment to reach the most marginalised girls in the world through quality education and learning.
People in Need is working with Alliance2015 partners Concern Worldwide, Welthungerhilfe, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, and Amref Health Africa Foundation and two national partners, FSA and GPDI.