Attending school but not learning
At school, Chalachew appeared to have learning needs that the local teacher did not have the skills to meet. He had difficulty following the lessons and easily forgot the little he learned, putting him at a major disadvantage. Essentially, Chalachew was going to school but he wasn’t learning.
Because of a lack of understanding about his condition, Chalachew was bullied by many people in his life - his own uncle, classmates, and even his teacher. Instead of providing him with a supportive environment where he could learn, his teacher insulted him and questioned his capacity to learn.
This situation drove Tesfane to go above and beyond to seek help for Chalachew. His economic situation was dire, and he had to work several odd jobs to cover their most basic needs. However, their father-son bond was powerful, so Tesfane devoted himself to fulfill Chalachew’s two most pressing needs: providing appropriate medicines for Chalachew’s health problems and ensuring he received a quality education.
A father’s determination to defy the odds
Tesfane decided to follow advice from a health professional and moved from his native village to the city of Bahar Dar where he was told about Felege Abay, a school that welcomed children with disabilities like his own son.
Chalachew attended the school’s special needs class for one year and, during that short period, his progress was exceptional. Almost immediately after diagnosing him with an intellectual disability, the teachers noticed how eager Chalachew was to learn. Seeing his desire, teachers started him on a variety of subjects including math, Arabic, Amharic and English.
Chalachew’s academic progress was possible thanks to teachers who were trained in meeting diverse needs and had appropriate learning materials at their disposal, all of which provided the supportive and stimulating environment he had been lacking until then.
Because of his significant improvement, the teachers recommended that Chalachew, by now 18 years old, transfer from the special needs class to the regular grade 1 class.