Your Impact: Zagray Primary School

Sometimes all it takes is a strong, clear vision and a tarp.

At least that was case for Zagray Primary School located in a hilly, rocky area approximately 8 km from Dangla town. In 2008, local parents started an alternative school (a school that teaches only reading and writing and does not have grade levels) under some trees at the current site of Zagray Primary. They started with a strong desire to give their children an education and a study tarp strung between the trees to provide cover from the sun and rain.

Soon after, the community organized to donate the land for the school. They started by growing corn and teff to raise money to build a two-classroom facility in 2009 and a small administration building the following year. Classes moved out from under the tarp and into classrooms offering instruction from kindergarten to 2nd grade. Within another year the school had space to offer instruction through 4th grade. However, the community ran out of resources to support further expansion and provide classes through 8th grade so that students could continue on to high school. The only option was for children to walk 1.5 hours to Zubra School for grades 5 – 8 and in the rainy season, this was nearly impossible.

Project Ethiopia stepped in to work alongside the community in 2014 completing a 3-classroom building so that students could attend classes through 8th grade. We partnered again with the Zagray community this year to add a 4-classroom building to the campus and retire one of the original buildings that was falling down and beyond repair. The new building also includes a dedicated lab room for science instruction.

Today the school is serving 290 students (146 female and 144 male) in kindergarten – 8th grade. The school has a young and dedicated School Director named, Emiyamrew, and a staff of 18 teachers and assistants. Most importantly, Zagray Primary has created a pathway to high school for rural students as evidenced by the results of the national exams taken at the end of 8th grade. The first two 8th grade classes to graduate from Zagray in 2018 and 2019 totaled 65 students. Among those students, 59 passed the exam and continued on to high school and 6 are being allowed to repeat 8th grade this year. Where previously no opportunity existed to complete school through 8th grade in Zagray, there are now 91% of the students in 8th grade successfully completing their primary education and moving on to succeed at the secondary level.

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