IIE Blog Opening Minds
IIE Blog Opening Minds

Introducing the Higher Education Readiness (HER) Program: A Path to University for Girls in Ethiopia

By: Edie Cecil on Monday, March 18, 2013

32.4% of girls in Ethiopia enroll in 9th grade, but only 3.5% continue to 11th grade, which is their path to advance to university. Imagine what the impact would be on the girls, their families and their communities if we could significantly increase that number?

Higher Education Readiness (HER)IIE is piloting a program in Ethiopia to do just that. The Higher Education Readiness Program (HER) will provide 100 girls entering 11th grade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, with scholarship support combined with innovative leadership and life skills training to help them complete their secondary education and equip the students with the tools they need to continue to university.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and, with my colleagues from IIE’s Sub-Saharan Africa office in Addis Ababa, lay the foundation for this exciting new IIE-funded program. After coordinating with the Ministry of Education, we chose two schools to be part of the pilot project. Addis Ketema Preparatory School is located in a bustling market area of Addis. Fitawrari Abayneh Secondary School is located on the outskirts of Addis where many people have a subsistence lifestyle. Both are academically high performing schools with students that come from very underserved populations. While there, I met with the principles and key staff. All were talented professionals, deeply committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for their student body. 
IIE held application completion workshops at Fitawrari Abayneh and Delachen School (a feeder school for Addis Keteme). Hundreds of girls attended, all interested in learning more about HER and how to complete an application. Applications are due this week, and IIE is hosting independent selection panel meetings on March 25th and 26th in Addis.
IIE’s goal for HER’s pilot year is to refine an effective model for a secondary school scholarship program that will not only increase girls’ participation in higher education, but will also achieve greater scale that we can expand in Ethiopia and replicate in other countries. 
Check back next week for more blogs about the application selection panels and then join us to follow the program over the coming year!      

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  • CHolt said:
    3/22/2013 12:00 PM

    This is a phenomenal program for the girls of Ethiopia that is being sponsored by the IIE. I hope that as time goes on there are even more girls given the opportunity to participate in this program. There was an identified need and IIE stepped in to try and offer some assistance in bridging the gap between gender differences in higher education. It's exciting to think that it's in the plan that this program will be replicated in other cities and countries. Great planning on the part of IEE !!

  • Sahlu said:
    3/23/2013 7:23 AM

    This is a very interesting program and would like to know how it goes. Just curious, if these are two high performing schools, why is the program located there. Why didn't you choose less performing schools. How will we know that your program is making a difference if the schools are already performing above average?

  • CHolt said:
    3/26/2013 2:11 PM

    I was thinking the same thing about the choices that were made to include higher performing schools. I guess the committee wanted to ensure a high level of success for the participating girls in the program. Otherwise, there might be a lot of money wasted on students who were not a good fit for higher education.

  • Edie Cecil said:
    4/4/2013 3:18 PM

    Thank you for your comments. IIE is excited about the HER pilot and hopes to refine the program over the coming year to best meet the girls needs and goals of the program. The longer-term plan is, once we have analyzed the data and learned from the pilot, to expand the program in Ethiopia and other countries.

    The two schools were chosen because they serve the exact population that HER is targeting – under-served communities where girls have few opportunities and, as a result, often do not complete secondary school. The schools also needed to be ones that focused on academics and placing students in the Ethiopian university track after 10th grade. As such, Fitawrari Abayneh and Addis Keteme are perfect schools to launch the pilot. There is a need to better support girls so they will stay in secondary school and if they stay, have good academics in order to qualify for the university track in 11th and 12th grades. We appreciate your interest in HER.

    Please keep your questions and comments coming.

  • CHolt said:
    4/11/2013 1:57 PM

    I can understand the need to select schools that were comparable to the target population for this pilot program. There are many schools that need this type of support so it really is a great situation for the students at any school that is chosen. I am sure that these students will show significant progress in their ability and desire to complete a higher education program. This will be good because the IIE will see that this program is changing lives for everyone involved. I can't wait to see the program expand to other countries so that we can get some information about the global expansion and the improvement of economic, social, educational, and cultural conditions in these places.

  • Catherine Watuka said:
    4/13/2013 6:18 AM

    Our NGO in Kenya works to improve the lives of women,am particularly interested in girl child projects, partnership?
    Twitter: @mwendecathy

  • velma layne said:
    5/12/2013 11:55 AM

    It is very encouraging to see educational aid coming to Ethiopia. The number of students enrolled in the 9th grade as compared to students continuing to the 11th grade will certainly improve improving their path to continue to college. I know that other countries are facing educational difficulties. I am a doctoral student and have this question. Do you feel this is the overall fix to enhance educational standards for other countries across the globe?

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