Mukerem Jemal is a 15-year-old 8th grade student at Soramba Primary School. He lives with his parents and two brothers in a rented one-room house made of mud and thatch. Mukerem’s father, a fruit vendor, could not afford to buy books for his sons – and neither could their school.
In the slum areas of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, children attend under-resourced government primary schools that have poor facilities in comparison to private schools. The sub-standard education they receive further hinders their chance of progressing in life and escaping a life of poverty.
Addis-Tesfa and Soramba are two large primary schools in the Kolfe-Keranio district of the capital, attended by 3,500 pupils from impoverished backgrounds. Neither school could provide proper access to drinking water or toilets, let alone a library or science laboratory.
“Before Islamic Relief came, I had to go to my friends to borrow reference books. Sometimes they would lend them and sometimes I came back empty-handed. I always felt ashamed to ask,” Mukerem recalled. He also questioned whether his school was a proper school, and whether his education was worthwhile.
“It was just not interesting to go to school back then. There were long queues at the water tap and sometimes I’d return to the classroom thirsty. Computers were strange things I only knew from a distance.”
In 2014, an Islamic Relief Waqf project provided both primary schools with libraries, science laboratories and ICT rooms, along with computers, lab equipment and furniture. The libraries were stocked with 1,900 reference books. Ten teachers received training in computer skills, and new water and sanitation facilities were installed to improve health and hygiene standards, including twenty drinking water taps.
“After Islamic Relief came, so many things improved. Now my main focus is education. When I get free time, I run to the school library and spend hours there. My grades have improved dramatically. I plan to get the highest grade in the national exam and go on to secondary school.
“I am so grateful for the support that Islamic Relief has given to our school. Thank you.”
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