The value of investing in education in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot be understated. Reports from a recent conference on the topic showed that the number of school-aged children in the region has increased 29 percent since 2000, which means the area is now home to 49 million more children. The government alone cannot accommodate the growth, and education partners such as the Tigrai Development Association (TDA) in Ethiopia have helped build and staff schools.
Studies show that education can promote everything from social well-being to protection against diseases such as ebola and AIDS, which have ravaged some African communities. Recognizing these benefits, governments and outside partners have invested in new schools, more teachers, and innovative programs such as computerized book distribution. Statistics support the pay-off of increased support for education. According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), for example, investments in education in Rwanda have allowed more children to attend school. The percentage of primary-aged children who were not in school has fallen from almost 15 percent in 2002 to 1.3 percent in 2012.
In Ethiopia, TDA has worked to build and support the Kallamino Special High School in the Tigrai region since 1997. Alumni have gone on to careers as technologists, professors, doctors, entrepreneurs, and engineers.
Here are eight ways the school provides an educational environment that helps students progress and succeed.
It offers easy access to education:
Kallamino High School is a boarding school, which allows students to live on campus and focus entirely on their education. Students come to the school from all over the Tigrai region, a high-plateau area in northern Ethiopia. The boarding school frees students from long and sometimes perilous walks to school and the extensive chores at home that could distract from their studies.
Students are removed from daily danger and strife:
The Tigrai region’s tumultuous history has had long-lasting effects on the area’s people. In 1975, a military group based in the region entered into civil war. Ten years later, the conflict converged with a drought and famine, which crippled communities even more. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the region when the government tried to relocate them to the south, and many others died. Ongoing conflicts have continued to cause instability in the region, which also faces environmental and economic challenges.
Kallamino provides a safe environment for students, as well as hope for the future through education.
Students learn from each other:
Kallamino brings together students from all over the large Tigrai region, many who never would have met due to difficulties traveling over the area’s rough terrain. As students form a new community at Kallamino, they share their cultures and learn from each other’s differences. The schools hosts a number of opportunities for students to socialize, play sports and games together, walk together on the school grounds, and share unique aspects of their cultures, such as dances from their hometowns.
Students also form long-lasting friendships through their life in the school’s dormitories, which provide safe and clean living spaces with large common areas where students can spend time together.
Students become family:
Living together allows students to share both in happy times and in each other’s difficulties. They learn to listen to each other’s problems, offer support, and discuss solutions to everything from family economic struggles to difficulties in a class at school. Students have collected money from dorm-mates to show their support for fellow students who have lost a loved one, and they have celebrated events with each other regardless of their background and religion.
Education can be free:
Kallamino offers scholarships to outstanding students who completed elementary school in the Tigrai region. The school also provides free educational materials, soaps and detergents, pillows, and blankets.
The school looks out for students’ health:
The school’s on-site clinic is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides education and free health care for all students. Two nurses staff the clinic during the day, and one staffs it at night, ensuring that students always have access to medication and care for minor illnesses. Students with more serious health issues are referred to nearby hospitals, and the school covers their expenses.
The clinic also keeps the school grounds clean, provides education programs in mental and physical health, and teaches students about the larger public health issues that affect the region and the country. All of the clinic’s work is geared toward helping students stay healthy without medication.
Clubs give students a range of valuable experiences:
Kallamino’s extracurricular clubs provide fun and additional learning opportunities for its students. The Language Club focuses on literature as well as helping students improve their reading, writing, and listening skills, while Mathematics Club members participate in math competitions and try to solve real-world problems. In the Future Doctors Club, students assess health problems and come up with solutions on the school level.