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Project Background

This project was focused on improving the wellbeing and learning opportunities for the most marginalised children from Amhara in the northern highlands of Ethiopia, by supporting parents and guardians to act to improve the development of children 0-8 years. A key component of this project is a Donkey Mobile Library, which aims to achieve improved learning opportunities and open the imaginations of hundreds of children.  

Similar to mobile libraries common in Australia, the Donkey Mobile Library addresses the urgent need for books in rural Ethiopia. The donkey-pulled cart holds a treasure trove of books, has space to store stools for seating, and contains a special compartment for food for the donkey. When the library visits a school, it’s parked under a big tree, and enough stools are placed in the shade for up to 200 children to sit.

Key Project Outcomes

Strong progress has been achieved by parents and guardians taking action to improve the development of their children, shown by observed changes in parenting practice such as: improved hygiene practices, providing a more balanced diet, making homemade toys for stimulating children, and accompanying children to Early Learning Centers.

Some key program successes are:

  • This year, 907 children (402 boys and 505 girls) attended early learning programs
  • The mobile Donkey Library reached 620 out of school children in remote and rural areas, increasing literacy levels and access to books
  • 2 new community-managed centers were established
  • 10 children with disabilities were enrolled in Early Learning programs and provided with necessary support (such as wheelchairs)
  • The total number of children directly benefiting from this project increased to 3,273 in this iteration
  • 109 parents participated in the parenting program
  • To ensure children transition successfully into primary school, visits were exchanged and experiences shared with 7 local primary schools. 383 children (224 girls and 169 boys) completed Early Childhood center programs and started primary school this year

Training Provided

In addition to the above stats;

  • 75 people received training in disability inclusion
  • 26 Early Childhood caregivers and partners were trained on gender inclusion and 26 female caregivers were trained in facillitation skills, toy production, classroom organisation, disability inclusion, child protection and gender equality
  • Two Donkey Library attendants received training in play-based approaches to literacy, promoting the joy of reading.

Attitudes Within the Community

  • The sense of ownership and empowerment felt by parents and communities is clear and participation has been very strong. 
  • Communities themselves provided the land and labour to build the two newest Early Childhood Learning Centers and produce and repair play equipment.     
  • Communities were impressed that local elders’ stories were transcribed, illustrated and published as books for the mobile Donkey Library.    

What's Next?

As this is the final year of funding, Plan International has worked to ensure that this project is sustainable at the grassroots level.  This is achieved through promoting peer leadership, examples of positive parenting behaviour change, social networking and wider community sharing of lessons learnt. 

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