Ethiopia: “The best is yet to come”

Read how GPE and Save the Children are supporting education in the country through a school feeding program and by building the capacities of education officers.

March 07, 2022 by Abdusemed Mussa, Save the Children Ethiopia
3 minutes read
Kibre, 13 (left), with her sister, Asefash, 15. Credit: Musema Unoro
Kibre, 13 (left), with her sister, Asefash, 15.
Credit: Musema Unoro

Kibre Haqamo, 13, is among the 705 (344 girls) children who benefit from morning meals served at Aleto Hawecho primary school of Boricha district, Sidama region, southern Ethiopia. Together with her sister, she has been actively participating in school activities since a school feeding program began serving the meal 10 months ago.

Sharitu Shanka is the principal of Aleto Hawecho primary school since 2014. “I am a live witness who saw the miracle a school feeding program can make. Before the start of the school feeding program in March 2021, the number of students was only 347; now they are more than 700,” Sharitu said.

“I was teaching here when there were no school meals. The small number of students enrolled were either showing up late or dropping out when food became scarce at home,” Sharitu recalled.

Kibre and her sister walk more than half an hour to school every day. They arrive at school exhausted and with empty stomachs. They always run fast to be on time for the morning meal.

“Children are more attentive when they have something in their stomach before starting class. It helps concentration and pushes parents to also send girls to school,” said Sharitu.

Kibre and her sister are among the 163,000+ pre-primary and primary school students in 499 schools who are benefiting from the US$20 million Save the Children–led school feeding program funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The Comprehensive, Inclusive Learning and Development–School Feeding Project (CHILD-SFP) operates in five regions of the country covering 13 districts.

Kibre is grateful for the meals she and her sister are benefiting from: “I come to school every day and stay here for the whole day. Gone are the days when I sit in the class feeling hungry. My school days are joyful now. The food helped me to be attentive. I had always dreamt of becoming a doctor. I work hard to achieve my goal.”

The program also provides support in building the capacity of the experts at the districts’ education offices as well as of the teachers in the target schools.

Additionally, it built modern kitchens and pit latrines. All of the kitchens in the target schools are equipped with at least three portable stoves that can be used for large-scale cooking. The stove can potentially save up to 70% of fuel compared with the three-stone open fire. This makes the stoves environmentally friendly and economical.

Feeding and cooking utensils are also distributed to the schools in sufficient quantities proportional to the number of students.

CHILD-SFP constructed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, including pit latrines.

“Before the program, the students used to practice open defecation. Now, this practice has changed for good. Our school has decent pit latrines with handwashing facilities. We have separate latrines for boys and girls. We also have special latrines for students with disabilities. A water pipeline system is installed in the school, from a source that is more than 1.3 kilometers away from the school vicinity,” the principal explained.

“We are hopeful that the support will continue in a much better way. We started to see positive changes. But the best is yet to come,” Sharitu concluded.

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Thanks for the great work and the sacrifice to achieve education for all

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