Education and Equal Opportunities for 65 Women in Ethiopia

Project location: Ethiopia, Wolayta
Project start date: September 2010 - Project end date: October 2011
Project number: 2011-26


Since January 2001, the primary concern of the Rita Levi-Montalcini Foundation has been the need to tackle one of the major issues that affects the populations of the Southern World, particularly in Africa, namely support for the education for members of the female sex. The deprivation of the right to education is the primary cause of the tragic conditions in which they live and which are reflected in the lives of people throughout the continent.
It can be considered that by such means the tragic mass migration of these populations can be impeded.
The goal is to offer a school education that fosters the conditions for the development of women, as well as prevent inflictions such as poverty, disease and prostitution.

This project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, is in Ethiopia. 65 young women from the territory of Wolayta will benefit, including secondary school enrollment in the 2010 - 2011 school year for 35 girls aged from 16 to 25 in the ninth grade, and for 30 in the tenth grade.
The project lasts one year and takes place at the School of Wolayta, the only one in the area. Initially the Institute planned education until the eighth grade but has now planned extension until the tenth grade as called for by the Ethiopian government programs. Based on the results of national tests in the tenth grade, students are either directed to preparatory courses for university or vocational school (including paramedics) or else they must leave formative education.
English is the vehicular language in all school levels: elementary, middle and high. Currently 82 official languages are approved for teaching in public schools in Ethiopia.
Rural schools are almost entirely conducted in ethnic languages while in those in cities are generally conducted in Amharic. The Institute therefore decided in September 2006 to use English as the vehicular language, without excluding the local language (Wolayta) and the national (Amharic). This choice, which is shared by local authorities and parents, helps overcome the difficulties of communication between ethnic groups and provides opportunities for work or further education to the highly disadvantaged women.

The grants are part of a broader project called "Equal Opportunities for the Women of Wolayta" (emancipation through quality education), in the city of Soddo, the largest city in the region. The main problems of the area are high demographic pressure, the prevalence of technically backward subsistence farming, the weakness of traditional fabric, the marginalization of women who are often subject to fathers or husbands who relegate them to the status of semi-slavery, and an extremely widespread poverty.
The prospects of using the training provided is based on the increasing demand for educational and language skills needed in foreign companies in Ethiopia, in tourist hotels and local businesses where English is required. Extra curricular activities are alsoplanned: clubs for Gender Equality, HIV / AIDS, sports, personal hygiene and hygiene of clothing. To facilitate learning English, books are available in the local library, and films are shown in the main hall three times a week.

Through its activities the Levi-Montalcini Foundation has now awarded more than 12,000 scholarships to young women from different African countries to facilitate literacy and primary, secondary, university and post university education, giving them the ability to assume key positions at social, political and scientific levels. To implement projects on site, the Foundation relies on secular and religious non-governmental organizations, working in direct contact with local conditions in the African territory.
There are innumerable girls who can hope for a better future by being able to continue their studies in many African countries including Ethiopia, Madagascar, Kenya, Nigeria, Eritrea, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Algeria, Rwanda, Morocco, Malawi, Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ghana, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde, Sudan , Benin, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Somalia, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Algeria, The Republic of South African and The Republic of Guinea.
Furthermore the Foundation promotes, and participates in, numerous initiatives in various cities in Italy and abroad to raise awareness of the importance of supporting women's education on the African continent. Every two years it organizes an international conference which brings together public and private organizations for dialogue and discussion with the purpose of identifying new strategies for development.

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