Feature photo: Nuru Ethiopia Education team at Program Proposal Graduation (left to right: Getachew Abebe, Teferi Womber, Kevin Nascimento, Wondemagegn Gezahegn, and Feven Yimer).

We’ve done it! To the Nuru Ethiopia Education team, I can only say but one thing, gobez! – ‘good job!’ in Amharic! Completion of the Program Planning Process (PPP) marks a major milestone in the Nuru Ethiopia project and Nuru International. It is the first Nuru Education Program ever created using this process.

Beginning in January, 2015, the newly formed Nuru Ethiopia Education team – comprised of four Field Officers (Feven Yimer, Wondemagegn Gezahegn, Getachew Abebe, and Teferi Womber) and the Education Program Strategic Advisor Dr. Jimmy Leak – began the process with a community-based strengths and needs assessment focused on determining the greatest challenges faced by our households and community. From the strengths and needs assessment, they drew out a number of key insights for our operational area – namely, major barriers to education.

Based on the findings of our community-based strengths and needs assessments, our key informant interviews conducted with school and community leaders, and an analysis of secondary data from the Zonal, Regional and woreda reports, the team established the following problem statement:

Primary school-aged children in rural communities living in extreme poverty in Southern Ethiopia, Boreda woreda suffer from low levels of literacy. This is due to poor quality of teaching, poor quality learning environments, lack of follow-up and support from parents, teachers, and school administration, and lack of awareness by parents about the teaching and learning process.

With the problem statement created, the team then moved to establish the goal of the Education Program to address these issues. The combination of these three milestones greatly influenced what the Education Program would concentrate on.

It was at the end of these three milestones that I joined Nuru Ethiopia as the Education Program Specialist. After a brief turnover process with Dr. Jimmy Leak, I was handed the “reigns” of the program and presented with the shared responsibility of building out the remainder of the Education Program with the Nuru Ethiopia Education team. Albeit a challenging task, I soon found that the Nuru Ethiopia Education team was up for the challenge. The daunting tasks of creating activity groups and their accompanying activities, building out an eighteen-month rollout schedule, developing a monitoring and evaluation system, and projecting a budget for all activities, in the end, did turn out to be challenging and indeed tested the mettle of the team. Despite these challenges though, what I saw through these trials was a growing investment from each individual member – both in the program and in one another as a team. As Program Specialist, my short tenure of two years at Nuru International could only be judged successful if the Nuru Ethiopia Education team were to be successful in the implementation of the program. Witnessing them merge into a cohesive unit with a single, unifying mission truly makes me excited for the future of the program in their hands.

In the end, the four major activity groups of the Education Program model are:

  1. Teacher Training
  2. Strengthening the existing government education system of follow-up and support
  3. Community mobilization and involvement on literacy initiatives
  4. Preparation and provision of educational materials and enhancement of learning environment

You’ll be hearing much more about these different components of the Education Program model in the months to come as we roll them out.

Jumping ahead to the present: the Education team is more determined than ever to begin implementation. With our newly selected Field Manager, Ms. Feven Yimer, taking the helm and our Field Specialists ready to move from theory into practice, I find myself eager to see the program, that each of them were so pivotal in creating, in action.

As the Education PS during the latter half of the PPP, I had the unique privilege of assuming many roles – facilitator, advisor, student, and teacher to name a few. The freedom to move effortlessly from each of these roles was a result of the high caliber of the Nuru Ethiopia Education team. Each Field Officer brings to the team a plethora of experience, whether from years of teaching, a deep understanding of education policy, working with other literacy-focused NGOs, or school administration. From the onset, it’s been clear to me how fortunate I am to work with a team that has proven time and again, their desire to work to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. Let’s do this!