Project information

A secondary education for girls in rural Ethiopia

Quality secondary education equips girls with the confidence, skills and freedom to escape the poverty cycle. Our project will transform access to secondary school in desperately poor rural districts of Ethiopia and directly support 63,571 at-risk girls to gain literacy, numeracy and life skills.

January 2018 - May 2024

Charity information: Link Community Development International

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  • Need


    Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Access to quality education is low, with just 11% of girls from rural areas going to secondary school. Most schools are in towns, with overcrowded classes, sparse resources and substandard teaching. Girls face many barriers, from domestic burdens to inadequate sanitary protection, harrasment, violence and early marriage. Even when they can access school, many feel unsupported and drop out without livelihood and life skills.


    We will work with communities, schools and government to address the critical obstacles girls face to access and complete their education, and develop sustainable new secondary schools in the deepest rural areas of need. We’ll support girls through each stage of their learning to develop literacy and numeracy, core subjects knowledge and lifeskills, using proven interventions such as intensive teacher training, tutorials, guidance and essential support packs such as sanitary wear and textbooks.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To help 63,577 girls become 'ready to learn' and transform the quality of education in Wolaita.


    » Deliver programmes of literacy, numeracy, financial literacy, guidance, counselling and social and emotional learning for girls in 140 schools.
    » Provide essential supplies and support to girls in 123 schools to aid attendance and transition to secondary, e.g. bursaries, books, sanitary wear.
    » Provide intensive training and mentoring for teachers in gender-friendly teaching, core subjects, classroom management and language competency.
    » Build capacity with schools to support girls, through Girls’ Education Advisory Committees and training on vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and violence.

    What success will look like

    Through significant improvement in girls' foundational and higher-order literacy, numeracy, core subject knowledge; transition to the next stage of their education; lower drop-out.

    Aim 2

    Increase access to secondary education in Wolaita.


    » Construct 4 new low-cost secondary schools in 'black-hole' rural areas of need.
    » Upgrade 13 existing secondary schools with separate female sanitation and language and literacy centres.

    What success will look like

    17 new or upgraded secondary schools across Wolaita Zone, complete with separate sanitation for girls and improved language and literacy teaching/facilities.

    Aim 3

    To enable mobilised, gender-aware communities across Wolaita, demanding high-quality education.


    » Encourage support of girls through Mothers’ Groups, Fathers’ Groups, Gender Clubs and ‘Good Brother’ awards to champion boys who support girls.
    » Introduce the School Performance Review in 140 schools, wherein communities and parents monitor children’s performance and guide school improvements.
    » Deliver community awareness-raising campaigns to challenge entrenched attitudes on education and equality.

    What success will look like

    140 communities participate with school improvement processes and unite with schools to tackle issues such as domestic roles, learning inequalities and HIV/AIDS.

    Aim 4

    Improve leadership for girls' learning at school, district, zone and regional level.


    » Introduce accreditation of girl-friendly districts and schools.
    » Train schools and district officials in gender equality, gender action planning and prevention/reduction of school related gender-bsed violence.
    » Embed effective practices in schools for reporting of school related violence and abuse.

    What success will look like

    Support for girls' learning is embedded in local education systems, with capacity increased by 60% and sustained after project closure.

  • Impact


    This project will directly benefit 63,571 marginalised girls, and indirectly benefit 230,000 more children attending improved schools. Girls will transition to secondary school and gain a quality education; schools will flourish from effective teaching, leadership and gender equality; and communities and authorities will become experienced in school improvement. We’ll measure change at four stages, using reading/math assessments and a sustainability tool, and compare against a control group.


    Political unrest: Wolaita Zone in SNNPRS is not currently affected by recent political unrest in Oromia and Amhara but travel to and from the project site and Hawassa/Addis Ababa via the road networks could be affected if further unrest occurs; Drought - Wolaita was not hugely affected by Ethiopia's last drought but the situation could worsen based on climatic conditions; Construction delays - we will use a committee of experts and thorough due diligence to minimise issues.


    We will develop annual and visual reports on project progress for all major donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £138,831

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £45,120 Classroom furniture Desks and chairs for children
      £29,667 Laboratory fittings Lab desks, stools, shelves, reading box
      £10,411 Science equipment Science apparatus, learning resources
      £18,825 Computers Computers for one school
      £3,500 Computer tables & chairs Computer tables and chairs
      £20,825 Textbooks Books for pupils, teacher guides, reference textbooks
      £3,442 Lockers Lockers for students
      £7,041 Administration supplies Shelves, filing cabinets, admin resources
  • Background


    Our project will be based in Wolaita Zone in the Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS) in Ethiopia, 330km southwest of Addis Ababa. This is an area of severe poverty, battling high rates of HIV/AIDS, high population density, vast rural areas with poor roads and alarmingly low access to quality education.


    63,571 highly marginalised girls will directly and significantly benefit, as well as 230,688 children indirectly, who will attend improved schools. Girls will receive better support, equal opportunities, guidance and sanitation in school, and attend through to completion, gaining higher-order literacy, numeracy, self-esteem, life and livelihood skills. More girls will marry later, therefore reducing population growth in Wolaita.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Since 1995 we have worked in 3,000 schools and improved the lives of 2 million children through innovative school improvement models. This project follows a highly successful four-year girls’ primary education project in Wolaita Zone, where we worked to address the complex challenges facing girls in primary school. It improved girls’ literacy by 200%, numeracy by 300% and retention by 30%. This impact was achieved at low cost, just £15 per girl per year, using sustainable local engagement.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Laura Garforth

    Laura will lead project delivery in Ethiopia, and is an international development specialist and Amharic speaker with 15 years' overseas experience.

    Dr Samantha Ross

    Samantha will provide crucial support with programme implementation, strategy and reporting.

    Caroline McKay

    Caroline will manage communications and fundraising for the project.

They say if you give a man a fish, you feed him for one day. If you teach a man to fish you give him food for life, just like the project changed our lives forever. It brings change for a lifetime. They have given what cannot be lost, no one can take it away from us.

Female primary school teacher, Wolaita Zone, Ethiopia, speaking of the impact of our former girls' primary education project in Wolaita.