Polska pomoc


Support for education in southern Ethiopia by providing solar lights and library books for the primary schools

Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. For years it has been one of the poorest countries on the continent. Currently, the country with growth rate of over 10% per year has the ambition to provide a better future for the nearly 90 million citizens. The rapid development leads not only to great opportunities, but also threats. Over the last decade one can see a growing gap between the level of development in large cities and the development of rural areas, especially in pastoral areas. The PCPM project implemented from 2012 aims to assist in breaking away from the circle of poverty, especially citizens of disadvantaged areas in the south of the country.

PCPM decided to install lighting in schools to reach to children and adults who have no time to study during the day because of the responsibilities associated with cattle grazing and traditional agriculture. The aim of the project is to give these people opportunities to learn after dark, at a time when the work in households stops. Near the equator the sun sets after 6 pm., so every day before going to sleep, one can actively use solar energy lighted from school for a few hours. In 2015 Polish Center for International Aid planned to install lighting in 225 primary schools, attended by 70 thousand children.  

Support for education in southern Ethiopia by providing solar lights and library books for the primary schools

The project is implemented approx. 600 km to the south of Addis Ababa. It covers the whole zones of Guja and Borena. The zones are the Ethiopian administrative regions with a total area of 64 000 km2 – which is equivalent to 1/5 of the area of Poland, and in the African realities larger than the combined area of Burundi and Rwanda. In case of Ethiopia it constitutes almost 6% of the country.

PCPM activities are mainly directed to children at primary school. This is the most important stage of education in which children acquire basic skills needed to properly function in modern society. Basic knowledge of math and literacy are the foundations of education, without which a young man is doomed to remain in the circle of poverty in modernising society. PCPM actions focus mainly on improving reading skills, which is essential to continuing education. It is important that this ability is acquired at a relatively early stage because with age it becomes increasingly difficult. Students who have difficulty with reading must repeat the class and often choose to discontinue learning.

Support for education in southern Ethiopia by providing solar lights and library books for the primary schools

The project installed PV-powered lighting in Ethiopia’s 226 school libraries and classrooms, attended by over 100,000 children. The project focused on 8-year schools in order to reach the highest possible number of beneficiaries. The project authors had chosen schools that are located in villages with no access to electricity where the systems installed by the PCPM were often the only source of lighting within an area of some ten or twenty kilometres. In the evenings, those school premises are also used for adult remedial classes.

The same schools were also provided with books, mostly to teach the youngest children reading, and with dictionaries and extracurricular textbooks that are not supplied by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education.

Besides purchasing off-the-shelf publications, the PCPM in collaboration with a local partner (IIRR) published dedicated books in the Oromo language, themed around stories and fairy tales of Borena and Guji regions in the country’s south. Schoolchildren can now learn to read from stories drawing on the local culture. Ethiopia, a country with over 80 languages, still struggles with the lack of books in local languages, which makes learning to read much more difficult for the youngest pupils who have not yet mastered English or Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language.