Islamic Relief Ethiopia has launched an exciting project to empower girls through education.
The scheme, which aims to improve access to quality primary education for both girls and boys, began in December. It targets children in the rural district of Ewa, Afar, a largely rural regional state where many grapple with poverty and inadequate access to basic services.
Children struggling to access education
Afar is Ethiopia’s lowest performing region in terms of education. The most recent figures indicate that almost 65 per cent of primary school-age children do not go to school.
Children of poor families may be unable to attend school, as they are required to help out at home or support livelihoods activities. Schools typically lack qualified teachers and essential facilities such as water and suitable sanitation.
Removing barriers in Ewa district
The latest 12-month Islamic Relief project aims to remove the barriers that prevent children from attending school. Throughout 2015, we will build the capacity of ten primary schools in Ewa. This will include improving the condition of existing schools; providing school furniture, water tanks and separate latrines for boys and girls where required.
We will hand out educational materials to girls, to encourage them to attend school, and upskill teachers with specialist training on child centred teaching and gender sensitivities. In each school, girls and boys clubs will be set up to give children a voice in decision-making. About 1,500 girls and 1,500 boys are expected to benefit.
Changing community attitudes
The scheme also seeks to remove cultural barriers by raising awareness of the rights of girls to education, with mass community campaigns. We will also work with communities to tackle early child marriage and improve the involvement of females in decision-making. Our project will offer guidance on personal hygiene and menstrual hygiene management, to make it possible for more girls to attend school.
Islamic Relief is also to work with 30 young women aged 16-18, giving them skills training to boost their self-esteem and decision-making skills. The young women will then be helped to build small businesses, so they can support themselves – contributing to efforts to change community attitudes about the role of women and girls.
More than 3,000 children are expected to directly benefit from the project, which ends in December. Islamic Relief began working in Ethiopia in 2000, and delivers both emergency relief and development projects designed to reduce poverty and suffering.