The first day of school is an exciting time for most children, as it usually brings new opportunities for learning many things. For some children, however, the first day of school brings feelings of stress, inadequacy, and uncertainty because they do not have any school materials needed to help them study. Eleven-year-old Ferdos has always loved school, but as he was born into a low-income household, getting proper school supplies can be a challenge. “Last year, I had no school supplies until the school found support and provided us with notebooks,” Ferdos said.
As the new term began, Ferdos worried about how she would return to school and manage her homework without any stationery. For the young girl who dreamed of being a doctor, going to school without a notebook was unimaginable. She then tried to find blank spaces in her previous year's notebooks and planned to keep on learning. “I did not want to fall behind because of the scarcity of resources,” she said.
On 20th November 2023, the World Vision Ethiopia North East Regional Programme Hub distributed educational materials such as exercise books and pens worth 13,490 USD (742,348 ETB) to 1,950 underprivileged students from 26 schools in Kombolcha city. The purpose of the donation is to ensure that all children, especially the most vulnerable ones, are equipped with the necessary materials and eagerly start the year with confidence.
Ferdos’ school, Yekatit 25 Primary and Secondary School was one of the schools selected for the donation. When the gift boxes were delivered to her school, she was more than excited. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that the supplies were meant for us. Now that I have what I aspired to have, I know I can perform better. World Vision’s support eased off my worries, and I am thankful for it,” Ferdos says with a beaming face.
Mrs. Karmen Till, World Vision Ethiopia's National Director, was present at the distribution event that took place in the school’s compound and witnessed the smiles on the students’ faces. “Giving these children the supplies to help them learn as they should and grow is so important. I am glad that we are making this effort to fill the resource gaps that the children are facing. Education should never be out of reach due to lack of supplies,” she said.
The school teachers were aware of the challenges the students were facing and were equally happy and thankful for the donations. Birhanu Dinka, the school principal, said, “The donation can be considered the herald of success." He hopes it will inspire others to assist underprivileged schools with more sustainable, all year-long, support.
While World Vision Ethiopia has been able to fill in many gaps during this back-to-school season, the harsh reality is the need is still very large. According to the Kombolcha City Education Bureau, due to a lack of educational materials, nearly 27% of primary students drop out at grade one, and only 39% are able to stay in school until grade 5. All stakeholders and duty-bearers in the country must find ways to provide more support to level the educational playing field for all children and make an even greater impact. Every student deserves the chance to achieve their dreams.
By Tesfagebriel Tekola, Communication Coordinator, World Vision Ethiopia