January 2021: Ethiopia, Lalibela: Primary Boarding school

Lalibela Primary Boarding school

This is a makeshift arrangement where children from very far villages in the mountains stay during the week andvreturn to their families over the weekends. Lalibela primary school is the first public school in Lalibela.

The background:

In the Ethiopian educational system, there are three national exams for a student to be eligible. These exams are given at grade 8 (to joina high schoo), grade 10 (to join the preparatory school) and grade 12 (to join a university).

In 2010 E.C, this pioneer school had so many children failing to qualify to join the net grade. Only 70 out of 280 students were able to pass the exam.

The Program:

A teacher by the name Mulualem Setegn, volunteered to start a program to support the children who walked several kilometers. He came up with an idea that would help these children to improve their grade before the national exams.

The program is to address the following:

  1. There are students who come from rural areas and spend two hours on the road each day.
  2. There are also students who come from rural areas and stay for one week but they have not enough food to survive the whole week.
  3. There are students who waste their spare time just playing games, doing some other activities not related to learning because of guidance and care.
  4. Farmer parents who live in far away villages have no chance or capacity to care or guide their children in the town. They also cannot provide for them in their weeklong absence.
    These are the main factors that prevent the children from doing well in school. Most of them drop out and engage in several deviant activities.

Mr. Mulualem wants to solve all these problems for these children. Himself he comes from far away and therefore he understands the challenges these children go through.
He has established a temporary boarding facility inside the Lalibela primary school to:

  1. Preventing students from any bad habits, behavior or addiction.
  2. Guiding them up to concentrate on their studies.
  3. Creating a team work by letting them do their homework and assignments together.
  4. Building the culture of teaching each other through discussions.

He presented his idea to the school administration and the school offered him one old hall for that purpose. He could not implement his idea though because the hall was in a bad state and also there were no beds or beddings.

Because he couldn’t get beds and mattresses to accommodate students in that hall. He started by giving voluntary tutorials in the evenings for two months in that hall. This made alot of difference in the children performance that year with, 279 students out of 305 passing the national exam in the year 2011 E.C.

A well wisher tour guide shared the efforts of Mr.Mulualem to a group of tourists who donated a few beds and mattresses to enable the children from far to sleep in the hall to avoid walking long hours to and from school.

Program status:

Currently the hall hosts 100 children 60 girls and 40 boys
Each student has to bring their own mattress and beddings. After the regular classes the boarders look for something to eat then go back to the class to study in groups with the help of the teacher.


The boarding is a private arrangement between parents and this particular teacher. Most of the children come from far and their parents cannot afford to provide them with basic requirements like food to survive them the whole week.

  1. Beds, mattresses and beddings
  2. The hall need to be repaired and maintained.
  3. Food support.