April 3, 2018
Dear Friends and Supporters,
One of the best ways to combat poverty is through education, and The Fregenet Foundation (TFF) continues to positively impact the lives of young children in Ethiopia. One of The Fregenet Foundation’s core missions is to provide access to high quality early education to vulnerable children. By doing this we develop human capital and improve the quality of life in the communities we serve.
Under consideration, as TFF seeks to uncover the best path forward and achieve that mission, is a new idea. New schools would be built by Fregenet but operated by the local education administrations in the area, not by TFF. These model schools in Ethiopia would be focused on serving poverty affected children under seven years of age.
The reason for this potential shift in approach is because The Fregenet Foundation finds itself in a unique situation – poised to act and ready to build our first model school, but long delayed due to problems with land acquisition in the capital city, Addis Ababa. As Fregenet’s flagship school, Fregenet Kidan Lehitstanat, continues without interruption in a rented space, the Fregenet board is considering this new tact with an eye toward future accomplishments.
The Foundation is now engaged in a process of negotiating the building of Early Childhood Education (ECE) Units on existing public-school lands in areas outside Addis Ababa. According to the Ethiopian ministry of education’s 2010 benchmarking data, 34% of second graders are not able to read. The data also shows inequity between urban and rural areas. Urban schools offer 3 years of preschool to those who can afford to pay. Compare that to a single year in kindergarten in rural areas. The data shows that urban children are better prepared for success in first grade. The model school will help reverse these inequities. When accessibility and quality of learning improves, then transitioning to higher education is smoother and the development of a culture of literacy follows.
Since preschool and kindergarten are not offered in Ethiopian public schools, the model school would expand educational opportunities for this age group. Besides classrooms, the ECE Units would house a library, a computer lab, a cafeteria, and a clinic. The plan, upon completion at TFF’s expense, would be to turn over the operation of each newly built ECE Unit to the public-school system in the area. The foundation will insist upon signing a memorandum of understanding with the public school to guarantee the quality of the program and to ensure that TFF’s high standards are maintained.
The importance of nutrition and health programs on school sites cannot be stressed enough. The Fregenet Foundation wishes to bring hope and positive change to those families impacted by extreme poverty. As anyone knows, one of the main effects of poverty is food insecurity. The daily promise of a quality meal keeps children in school and is a big incentive for parents to send their children to school. Research shows a strong link between healthy bodies and better students. Six out of the seventeen U.N.’s Sustainable Goals 2015 have to do with hunger, health, sanitation and education. In addition to offering nutrition, building a clinic on site would make the delivery of simple health interventions possible.
The computer lab has the capacity to increase the quality of the educational programs. It would create opportunities where none existed. The promise of e-learning is limitless, and in Africa mobile services are well developed even in resource poor settings. Just like the library during non-school hours, the computer lab can benefit the whole community.
Primary education plays a key role in preparing children for school and beyond. We invite you to join us to help us fight poverty and the inequity of access to early childhood education. Help us continue to open doors of opportunity in the communities we serve. Your continued financial support is crucial as we move forward with our plans.
The Fregenet Foundation