Bringing school closer to home

“Before, I stayed at home and helped in the house. I cleaned, cooked and fetched water. Now, I can go to school in my own village,” Medanite says.

Medanite Otto is nine years old and she loves to learn. With a shy smile, she talks about her school day and her favourite subject, English. Just two years ago, going to school was not part of her daily life. But thanks to the construction of an Alternative Basic Education (ABE) centre in her community, supported by UNICEF, she now has the opportunity to learn every day.

Medanite lives with her family of 12 in Gemeto Udo, a small farming village in Ethiopia. Like many rural communities, there is no government school nearby. It is hard for children to attend school because the road is too long and dangerous to walk, and they are needed for work around the home. The girls help in the house, fetching water, cooking and cleaning, while the boys look after the herds.

In the community’s new ABE centre, school hours are more flexible and students can combine school with their daily chores, attending either in the morning or in the afternoon. The centre is also located in the village to provide easy access for children who live in the area.

Without the construction of the ABE centre, Medanite would have had to wait until she was at least ten years old to start grade one. Instead, she started learning at the centre the day she turned seven and, when she completes her classes there, she will be old enough to walk to school and study with other students her age.

The Alternative Basic Education programme is part of the government school programme, implemented by Regional Education Bureaus and supported by UNICEF. With the support of donors like you, UNICEF will help expand the ABE programme so that rural students like Medanite can have a school to call their own.

© UNICEF/Ethiopia/2011/Liv-Heidi Pedersen

Medanite Otto proudly shows off her exercise book. Without the ABE centre, supported by UNICEF, she would not be able to attend school.