SOS Children’s Villages Boosts Access to Education for Ethiopian Youth

In Ethiopia, many children and their families experience poverty, forcing them to forgo school. In 2014, grantee SOS Children’s Villages launched EduCare with a clear goal to reduce public school dropout rates by ensuring students’ health and well-being not just through education, but with essential services and caregiver support. The program has now achieved a dropout rate of less than two percent in Bahir Dar, and has since expanded to Debre Tabor, Debre Markos, Woldiya, and Gondar City.

EduCare has demonstrated real gains for vulnerable families, like Samra and Helina.

Helina’s world was turned upside down when her parents separated. Her mother Samra was left as the sole provider when her father abandoned them.

To survive, the family began brewing and selling traditional Ethiopian alcohol from their home. Samra recognized that this created an unsafe environment for her teenage daughter – but with no prior work experience, she didn’t know what else to do. And although Helina loved learning, she often skipped school to help, exposing her to harassment and abuse from customers. Looking back, she says, “Life was terrible.”

Thanks to SOS Children’s Villages, the family received essential services and support. Helina received school supplies and uniforms. Tutoring helped her advance academically, and life-skills training rebuilt her self-confidence. Now an ambitious tenth grader, Helina plans to be an engineer. She describes EduCare as her “second father” for fulfilling her dreams of an education.

Simultaneously, Samra sought safe and reliable means to earn a living. She joined an EduCare self-help group and began saving money. After attending an urban agriculture training, she secured – and repaid – a loan to purchase cattle, fully transitioning her business from alcohol sales to dairy farming. Samra attended parenting trainings, and began to prioritize education, monitoring her daughter’s school attendance closely.

Within two years, the family achieved self-reliance and joined the first cohort of EduCare graduates. Countless families like Helina and Samra across Ethiopia are now emerging from trying periods of instability to enter a promising new beginning with fortitude and dignity.