Shebraber School was established in 1978 in a remote, rural area of central Ethiopia. Before the school was built, parents in the neighboring communities, most of whom are subsistence farmers, saw little chance of a better future for their children. They often had no choice but to marry off their girls at an early age and send their sons to the big cities to work as shoe shiners or street vendors.
Construction of the original classrooms in the 1970’s were a community effort under the leadership of Arga Moach, a coffee farmer, who remains the current chairman of the school’s parents association. Villagers contributed their own limited resources and labor to build a small cluster of classroom buildings from handmade bricks of mud and straw.
The buildings were small, dark, dirty, over crowded and not conducive to learning. Most of the children did not have chairs or books. But to the community, even these insufficient facilities represented hope. Children who completed their primary education at Shebraber School few were able to continue to junior and secondary education and in seldom cases advance to Addis Ababa University. Arga’s son Mesganu was one of those rare success stories and has since become the community’s inspirational “role model” for their children. He returned to his primary school and pledge to someday replace the deplorable buildings that are still being utilized today. Read more about Mesganu Arga.
As awareness grew about the benefits of sending children to school, the number of students increased dramatically. From an original student enrollment of 356 children, the school now attempts to accommodate 2,500 children. Currently there are 25 teachers that teach 6-7 classes a day to a classroom size of 100 children in a room about 500 square feet. Teachers can’t possibly provide the individual attention needed to ensure a quality learning environment. The school lacks reference books and educational tools and there is no clean water or electricity readily available.
What makes Shebraber School unique is the earnest and tireless support of its community and their understanding of the value of education. Poor families have given what they can and have participated at every level to build the existing school and fence the compound. The community has pledged to provide local construction materials and free labor for any future construction.
Another distinguishing characteristic of this school community is its fervent belief in the education of girls. A sign on the school grounds emphasizes this belief that if you educate a boy, you educate an individual but to educate a girl, is to educate a community.