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You are here: HomeThe Ethiopian HeraldSocietyBold move to push education development forward

Bold move to push education development forward

Ersido Mikido, 83, Dega Kedida kebele dweller


The Amharic saying goes “Memmar Yaskebiral” literally translated to mean 'learning enables someone to be honored'. Those who accept the saying are observed to pass through ups and downs. Dreaming big amid such ups and downs, the Roman Dega Kedida first and second cycle school students in Kembata Tambaro Zone of South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State (SNNPS) are testimony to this fact, particularly Tesfanesh Domniko is, the all time outstanding student of the school.

Roman Dega Kedida first and second cycle school is located in SNNP State, Kembata Tembaro Zone, Kedida Gemela Woreda, Dega Kedida Kebele. It was established in 1976 and recently becomes a well-known school in which girl students are registering remarkable results even when compared to students at regional level.

Today, students from neighbouring schools are making efforts to join Roman Dega Kedida School. Those who are fortunate like Tesfanesh are becoming ranked students in a very short time possible because they have been learning to keep the words of promise.

In this school, it seems impermissible to score lower marks especially for female students. For them, it is also equivalent to breaking the promise of Roman Tesfaye to quit school. By the way, where, when and how did Roman and the school meet? And how the school was named after her?

It was in 2007 when Dr. Carl Heinz Bum, a founder of Menschen für Menschen went to the SNNP State to undertake his usual charity works. Pursuant to the State's request to establish a TVET college with a view to minimizing youth unemployment in the region mainly in the densely populated Kambata Tembaro Zone. The first night of Dr. Carl's trip, the then SNNP State Chief Haile-Mariam Dessalegn invited him, Almaz Bum (Dr. Carl's wife and CEO of Menschen für Menschen ) and his crew to the working dinner.

During the dinner invitation, Dr. Carl and Roman Tesfaye were talking to each other. He was impressed by her matured, kind and humanity words. Her vision for the betterment of women's livelihood for which he has been struggling for years had attracted him. So, he gave commendable value for her words of humanity in general and for the wretched life of rural women in particular. Though she was frankly talking to Dr. Carl what was in her heart, she could not get any clue to know his intention about her vision.

The next day, Dr. Carl and his team, Haile-Mariam and his wife traveled to Kambata Tembaro Zone, Danboya Woreda, Yebu Kebele to visit Hegon first cycle primary school. However, the school could not win Dr. Carl's aid. Because, there were few students in the school and the school building was relatively good compared to schools in the rural Ethiopia.

After a field visit, on their way to Durame, the zone's capital they encountered something strange in Dega Kedida Kebele. They saw large number of students rushing through a narrow gate. Dr. Carl asked his driver to stop his car and decided to see what kind of school it is. Haile-Mariam and his wife, Roman followed.

He realized similar situation he saw in the rural Ethiopia. The mud and straw made school had begun to incline. The floor of the school had became the place where insects breed. Learning-teaching materials worn out. Old, broken tables and stones were the seats. The students entered their class as they went back saying 'here comes a white person'. It was at this time when Dr. Carl observed over 100 students learning in such an old and uncomfortable class.

He asked the school principal to gather all the students and asked the students to tell him the problem of their school. None of the boys asked for a biscuit or candy. All spoke their common problem. “ No seat in our school even the school is old and uncomfortable to learn in.”

Immediately Dr. Carl told Roman something to her ear. Then he turned to the students: “I promise, next year you will not learn in this old school. You will have beautiful and well-equipped school. And the name of the school will be named after Roman. She told me that “Roman” means a sweet fruit. That is why I have decided to name the school after her name. Because, many 'Romans' will come out of this school. Now, promise me before her to actively keep on your education thinking of her,” he said.

The construction of the new school automatically began, completed within the shortest time possible and became operational on 8 January 2008. With the name of 'Roman Dega Kedida School'. On the inauguration ceremony of the school, Roman said: “ I have done nothing to get this privilege. But I do not know what Dr. Carl thought about me. He predicted that a lot is awaiting me. Today, I want girl students not to waste time. It is right now to be strong. I encourage you to keep on your education without any interruption so that you can benefit your society.” She presented in a television screen to the school to keep her promise.

Starting from its inauguration day, Romans words have been practical. The words have been passed to girl students since the last five years. The school has repeatedly been named a 'model'. Many students were moved to better places for further education including Tesfanesh Domniko, who is from Kerchicho kebele in the same zone.

Ersido Mikido, 83, is a resident of Dega Kedida kebele. He was 46 years of age when the Dega Kedida School was established in 1976. As to him, the school was built at a cost of four birr which was contributed by the local people. He witnessed that the result of the local girl students is advancing and the school survived by the sudden visit of Dr. Carl and Haile-Mariam Dessalegn.

These days, Roman Dega Kedida first and second cycle primary school is a modern, well-equipped school. Some 1, 202 students are learning from grade 1 to 8. The result of the students is also the highest at state level. The school Principal, Elias Markos says it is for two important reasons that the performance of the students is becoming the highest.

First, the school environment is inviting. Menschen für Menschen had fulfilled the library, laboratory and other necessary facilities. As a result, students from high school and other primary schools are currently using the library. Besides, following the restructure of the school, teacher- student ratio, textbook distribution, class size are all contributing to the students' performance, according to Elias.

Secondly, the name of the school itself is highly inspiring the local students. Roman has become the First Lady of Ethiopia. She is also their icon and influential like Dr. Adanech Kidane-Mariam, former minster of health and charity woman, Dr. Bogalech Gebre, both were born in the same state. Following the footstep of First Lady Roman Tesfaye, the girls in this school envisaged being actors to make a difference. They are more active than the boys as they register excellent results.

For his humanity jobs in Ethiopia, the founder of Menschen für Menschen, Dr. Carl Heinz Bum has been granted recognition and citizennry honor. His sculpture has been curved in various towns including Addis Ababa city.

Above all, he has done remarkable job for the accessibility of education in the rural Ethiopia. Until 2012, his organization has built 326 standard and well-equipped schools in the areas with difficult topographies. Addressing inaccessible areas, he contributed a lot to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in education sector.

Public Relations and Communication Head with Oromia Education Bureau, Letibelu Motuma said that in the state, the schools built by Menschen für Menschen are all up to standard and long-wearing. Teaching aids provided and schools built by this organization are greatly supporting the accessibility of education in the state and beyond that it is playing a glaring role in ensuring the quality of education.

Both the government and people of the state are carefully utilizing the equipment and schools given to them from Menschen fur Menschen, said Letibelu.

The education sector is one of the best performing sectors as per the MDGs. In this achievement, the role of Menschen für Menschen is quite indispensable. The schools and colleges built by this organization are all best in their kind and content. The top-quality TVET college in Durame Town which the organization set up with an outlay of 25 million birr was handed over to government. It is really a good witness to this.

Durame TVET college was established in 2010 with a view to serving the local community. But today, it is one of the well-organized colleges in Ethiopia. Teaching aids, library, laboratory, comfortable classes and training facilities are all fulfilled for it. There was no any TVET College in Kambata Tembaro Zone before 2010. Students from seven woredas of the zone had to travel hundreds of kilo metres with large expenses to get colleges.

To date, however, 1,426 students of whom 752 girls were able to graduate in the fields of Automotive, Electricity, Electronics, Manufacturing, Construction and Information technology from the college. In addition to Durame TVET College, the organization has built colleges in Marabete, Humera, Alem Ketema, Sheno including Harar Agro-technical college.

The fact that education is a weapon with which poverty could be bravely fought, Ethiopia has given due attention to it inviting development partners to this sector. Of these development partners Menschen für Menschen comes at the forefront and takes the lion's share.

Identifying inaccessible areas, old, poor-equipped and uncomfortable schools, Menschen für Menschen has been undertaking buildings of schools. In Horo Guduru Wollega Zone, Jimma Geneti Woreda, Harato Primary School is best instance for that matter which was rebuilt by this organization in 2012.

Student Abdi Fekadu is 4th grader in Harato Primary School. While he was first and second grade student, due to the crowded classrooms, he and his classmates used to attend their classes seated under a big tree found in their school compound. Beyond that, the mud on the wall of the school once fell on a student and hurt him. It was unforgettable happening as to the school principal, Alemayehu Dugassa.

Modern building, modern tables have replaced the old ones to day. The school environment has become inviting enough which in turn assisted to improve students' performance.

Head of woreda`s schools bureau Tegegne Fekadu, also said that before the reestablishment of Hareto primary school there was a repeated question from members of the community. Most of the classes were old and small in size. For that reason they cannot accommodate students. If the school was not build by the organization it would be difficult to reestablish it by the community.

Learning is the right medicine to tackle poverty, indeed. Therefore, the presence of suitable classrooms and creating favorable condition for teaching and learning procedure must be a precondition. This task must not be left only to the government. Both the community and NGOs have to play their role in this regard.

In addition to Roman Dega Kedida School, Menschen Fur Menschen, which aimes at alleviating social problems, has built and transferred a number of schools to the government. As it had been doing before, the organization has allocated 63 per cent of its budget for education sector. On its part, the government is properly administrating these schools too.

Sources indicated that in addition to the quality of schools, students who are attending their education in these schools are registering remarkable result. As it was indicated before, Tesfanesh Domnico is one of exemplary top students. Menas Tesfanesh is one of the top students of Roman Kedida School. Her remarkable results have motivated other girls in the school. She has became an instrument to attract other students into library. She is also becoming an icon to Roman Kedida promise.


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