In our time, people in Ethiopia face many challenges, some of which you’ve heard about on the news: poverty, disease, and famine. People around the world have rallied to their side, sending food, doctors, and supplies. And what happens in the next crisis?
According to the World Bank, 58% of Ethiopians age 15 and above cannot read or write, compared to 37% in neighboring countries. For Ethiopian women, that number could be as high as 75%. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Education figures for the 2002/03 school year, 2% of kindergarten age children are in school. There are no public kindergarten schools in Ethiopia. In the capital city, Addis Ababa, where the number of private schools has grown in recent years, only 33.1% of kindergarten-age children are in school.
What you may not have heard about Ethiopia is its millennia of history as one of the world’s richest and most beautiful cultures. You may not have heard of its unique language and rich literature. You may not have heard of the gentleness and generosity of its people. You may not have heard about the history of its Christian church, one of the world’s oldest; nor of the peaceful coexistence today of Muslims with Christians, each religion claiming roughly half the population, and neither calling for holy war against the other. You may not have heard of its heroic resistance against the Italians, making it the only African country never colonized by Europeans. It is a proud race and one with a deep, abiding dignity. What the people of Ethiopia want and deserve is a chance to reclaim that dignity and true self-sufficiency among the community of nations. They have the resources to do it. All they need is a chance.
Ethiopia’s kindergartens today are not a part of the public school system. Kindergartens are private and therefore only available for children of families with money. What we want to see is the same chance given to children of needy families, and to children orphaned by the latest scourge of AIDS. The children deserve it; the nation deserves it.
What we propose at the Fregenet Foundation is to bring to thousands of children in Ethiopia, a chance at education. What these kids deserve is dignity and the power to change their own lives and the course of their nations’ history. One generation can do that.