What We Do
EDUCATION: Schools in Kembata-Tembaro
Ethiopia’s population tops 85 million. Ethiopia is a country in which literacy rates are well below 50%, and half the population is 16 years of age or younger. School enrollment figures have never topped 70%, and the school enrollment figures among children 6 years of age and younger are below 5%. A commitment to education and literacy is crucial for those living in this nation that has historically been a leader in Africa, and consistently stands as a bulwark in politically fragile East Africa.
Tesfa Foundation first began working with children who were of kindergarten age because this was where there was the biggest need. In 2004, there was no public kindergarten available in Ethiopia. Only about 3% of kindergarten-age children were in school. Tesfa Foundation has since focused on supporting education for primary ages in the countryside. Recently the Ethiopian government has made a commitment to early childhood education, implementing kindergarten in urban schools.
Today Tesfa Foundation has three schools located in the Kembata-Tembaro zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR). In 2012, the first primary school was completed in Kembata-Tembaro in the village of Kololo. In September of that year, over 225 students started their education, many of them stepping into a classroom for the very first time.
Today 350 students in Kindergarten level (KG) through grade 4 attend the Kololo Primary School. Looking over the hills of Kembata-Tembaro, children at Kololo have access to education, a library, and a feeding program. Parents of the students are thankful their children can attend a local school and don’t have to walk a long distance to receive an education. The school director shares how when competing with other area schools in the region in academic contests, Kololo Primary School students are often ranked highest in the group. Since the addition of the feeding program in 2018, school attendance has remained consistent and the student drop-out rate has diminished. School testing scores have risen and parents say their children come home from school with more energy and are healthier because of the feeding program.
Azedebo and Fundame
Beginning in October of 2012, the construction team of the organization began working on two additional schools focused on preschool and kindergarten students. Located in the communities of Azedebo and Fundame, the two schools were built next to government-operated primary schools.
In the fall of 2013, 400 preschool and kindergarten students began attending the schools. Since then, approximately 60 new students are added to the enrollment of the two schools each year, providing the students with an opportunity to learn the foundations of education and giving them a step-up and a step-ahead for the rest of their primary and secondary education. Each school day students also receive a simple lunch as part of the organization’s feeding program.
One father of an Azedebo KG School student has shared how the education of his young child has changed his family’s life. He states, “I may not have land to give my daughter or many material things, but I can give her an education. Education is what matters most in life.”
Students of the Azedebo Kindergarten School and the Fundame Kindergarten School are taught the basic skills of math, reading, and science, as well as Amharic (the main language of Ethiopia), their local language of Kembattan, and English. Students learn in a safe environment by dedicated local Ethiopian teachers.
SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT
Since 2007, Tesfa Foundation has worked among the long-distance athletes of Addis Ababa. For more than a decade, Tesfa Foundation has experimented with a variety of programs to support these deserving young people with education and vocational opportunity. Programs we have sponsored:
Currently, Team Tesfa supports promising athletes with gear and small stipends in exchange for community service. We place athletes in The Tesfa Institute for Blind and Disabled and in the Nehemiah Autism Center.
The Women Athletes for Literacy and Learning (WALL) Program places young athletes in schools and school libraries to assist and to mentor children. With training and support from Ethiopia Reads staff in Addis Ababa, women athletes lead reading circles in primary school libraries and classrooms. They lead to the formation of book clubs. They assist school staff. Women athletes get a chance to see themselves in a different light. That provides confidence and motivation in their own education. Many are still finishing primary or secondary grade levels in night school. They gain work experience in a new and challenging environment, and they will be mentored by professional women.