After running EEF for 15 years very successfully in Addis Ababa, we decided in 2019 to help significantly more promising youngsters by expanding our programme.
One of the most deprived areas in Ethiopia is the province of Gambella, next to the border with South Sudan.
In addition to a population of 400,000, 420,000 refugees from South Sudan live in the region, 65% of the refugees are below the age of 18.
Education support is at the bare minimum.
The students on our Gambella Programme come from the harshest of backgrounds (example profile).
Most of them have fled war-torn South Sudan at a young age (between 8 and 12 years), many of them by themselves, leaving parents (if they are still alive) and often many siblings behind.
They may live in one of the many refugee camps, or in one-room mud huts with straw roofs with a distant relative or all by themselves from this young age.
There is no electricity, no water and no toilet. Usually this space is shared with many other family members, all of them sleeping on the bare ground or a straw mat. They do not have furniture or any other type of possessions.
They also have very little money for food. It is rare that they get to at breakfast or lunch. Dinner is normally a mashed stew of maze [the maze is provided to many families by international aid organisations] cooked over fire. It is not particularly healthy or even filling, and many children in the area go hungry.
To reach their schools, the youngsters often walk two hours into the town centre of Gambella. By the time they get home after school it gets dark and no homework ever gets done.
Despite the hardship they endure, the youngsters we select are also the most promising boys and girls in terms of academics. Our candidates usually rank between 1st and 3rd in classes of 85 to 100 children, cramped into small rooms.
Usually three students share a tiny bench and often there are only 2-3 books for the whole class, which they happily share.
During February and March, students for our Gambella programme are carefully selected from feeder primary schools that we have visited regularly since 2013.
The nominated candidates (boys and girls in grade 7) have to sit EEF own exams in Mathematics, Science and English, they have to write a short essay and take part in group and 1-2-1 interviews. They also receive visits to their “homes”.
The selected students join the EEF programme in grade 8 in September, just before the new school year starts and we support them all the way through to the end of university.
Our concept is simple and has proven to be extremely successful. All that our students need to succeed are
- Safe places to live
- Food to eat
- Time to study
To be able to fulfil their potential, we find them places to live (three students sharing) near the school with electricity (for a light bulb).
The huts are kitted out with small desks and chairs so that they can study together. They also receive mattresses, blankets, pillows and sheets and other essential items.
We also provide them with a monthly allowance for
- three meals per day: An egg, banana and bread (for breakfast), a traditional vegetable dish and occasionally meat (lunch) as well as their custom maze stew (dinner) which they will cook themselves.
- Some new clothes each year
- Study materials throughout school.
After grade 8 (last year of primary school) we review their performance and decide if they will go to high school in Gambella, or if they will join our high school programme in Addis Ababa.
After grade 12 (last year of high school) they will go to university (our programme track record for university entrance is 100%) and we will continue to support them with a monthly allowance.
Desks, chairs, mattresses, blankets, pillows and towels cost £60 per student. If you would like to help by covering this for one or more of our students, please make a donation here.