Eighteen-year-old Behati is ambitious. She describes education as her “first, second and third goal” and plans to go to university to study law.
Behati was born in Dessie, in South Wollo in the Amhara Region. She describes growing up as an “ordinary Ethiopian child” and started school at standard primary age. However, school was not always the experience it is now, due to both the standards of the school and because she has a visual impairment which adds further challenges.
“There is no primary or secondary school for students with disabilities near to our village so the first challenges were transport and cost. The schools didn’t have safe toilets and there were no sanitation supplies. Teachers didn’t focus on students with disabilities and there were no books written in Braille in class. We didn’t take notes because there was limited knowledge about Braille.”
These conditions resulted in frequent absenteeism and poor academic results. Since then, however, the support of the Girls’ Education Challenge has changed things significantly.
CHADET have provided Braille kits and audio resources and reading corners designed for students with disabilities that make it easier for them to learn. Changes to the school environment and facilities are helping to ensure regular attendance and teachers have received guidance on teaching children with disabilities
“We are now going to school without fear and I talk to school principals without fear if there is a problem, and teachers give attention to students with disabilities. My academic results improved and I have developed self-confidence.”
Behati’s results have not just improved. She is consistently one of the top two performers in her class. Having successfully transitioned to secondary education she is well on her way to reaching her goal of going to university.
She does admit that Covid-19 resulted in a loss of confidence and hope at being away from her education but she received Braille work sheets from CHADET, which she completed and was given a pass on Year 11 and allowed to progress to Year 12. The pandemic has done nothing to quell her ambition. In fact, she says isolating at home has given her more time to reflect on how she can “turn the steering wheel of my future”.