Awlaelo Schools Alumni Association (ASAS) has been involved in serious development activities in Awlaelo mainly in the education sector. It has launched best student-teacher award programs, and the construction of a modern library that is nearing completion. Beyond this, the association has been instrumental in mobilizing Awlaeloyans from all corners of the nation to meet and greet and deliberate on the future of our children, brothers and sisters back at Awlaelo.
Given the number of Awlaelo Diaspora in North America, the association has been able to accomplish a superb job that is being taken exemplary to other sister associations in Tigray. Now that the major project, construction of a library in the name of the late Kiros Alemayehu, is toward completion, it is time to plan for upcoming activities the association wants to be engaged in the coming five to ten years.
General Tentative plan
The association wants to engage itself the following major activities:
- Enhancing the quality of education in Awlaelo schools
- Transforming the association’s finance from member contribution to a wider financial base
- Optimization of resources by enhancing networking both inside and outside of Awlaleo – stakeholder networks
- Creating the future social capital of the association – cultivating the youths through Awlaleo Youth Network
- Contributing to the growth of cultural capital and heritage
- Establishing science, math and language (English) foundations
- Promoting of the physical and mental welfare of our youths through sports & cultural awareness
- Promoting wealth creation among the youths (business education)
- Establishing children’s library
- Information technology
- Providing short and long term trainings
Project 1: Enhancing Quality of education in Awlaelo Schools
The ‘Best Student-Teacher’ award program launched recently is achieving fruitful results. It has created a sense of healthy competition among high scoring students. ASAA would like to make an empirical assessment of the results and broaden the project. There are already suggestions from the school community that average students should be targeted by the program so that they come up to the level of the high achieving students. ASAA could mandate a survey to be conducted by the school, and get a baseline to plan a broader and more inclusive project that enhances the already excellent beginning.
As part of this project, ASAA will work hard to do the following:
- Achieve usable books from national and international sources to furnish the new library.
- Encourage readership clubs that enhance the reading culture of the school and the community at large.
- Collaborate with other nongovernmental organizations such as ‘Ethiopia Reads’ to achieve our objectives
Project 2: Transforming the association’s finance from limited member contribution to a wider financial base
So far, determined and committed Awlaelo Diaspora has been the sole sources of finance for the operations of the association. As time goes by, this solitary source may not be adequate to finance our ambitious projects and it could cause financial fatigue on the part of our members. Hence it is high time to plan other sources of finance that consolidate our existing financial base. Different sources should be brainstormed by members and especially by board members, but the following can be suggested as a springboard:
- Approaching donors by designing mini projects that they are interested in sponsoring (This includes donors both in Awlaelo, Tigray and outside of the country.)
- Working out small but income generating projects that can be run by the school itself
- Aggressive search for funding outside of Ethiopia involving both private and public foundations
Project 3: Optimization of resources by enhancing networking both inside and outside of Awlaelo – stakeholder networks
So far ASAA has been more focused on working its activities all by itself. With the exception of the linkage made with Awlaelo Development Association, there has not been any significant networking made with other development organizations and agencies in Awlaelo. ASAA would like to make every thing possible to network with governmental and non-governmental associations, and other multi-lateral development agencies operating in Awlaelo to optimize resources. It is imperative that our association
- Works together to design and implement joint projects that maximize resources. For instance, NGOs may provide us paid experts to give training in our schools, and in return we may be able to publicize their development activities through our website and our networks.
- Involves itself into a lobby activity. For instance, we can use our social capital to lobby administrators of the weredas to slate significant budget to education so that we do not have to spend much on the issues the government can handle.
- Offer expert advice to schools and to the wereda administration with regard to financing and administration of the schools. For instance, our expert members can suggest ways the schools can get soft loans from banks to construct labs, and install electricity that can be paid from the tax base of the wereda people in the long run. Other innovative school financing activities can also be advised to the school board and the wereda administration in general that optimize our use of resources.
Project 4: Creating the future social capital of the association – cultivating the youths through Awlaelo Youth Network
ASAA should have a succession plan not only to its leadership but also to its members. The future of ASAA will depend on the involvement of the youth in the philosophies, aspirations and activities of the association. Our dreams of better, literate, and prosperous Awlaelo cannot be materialized or can only go half way if we do not pass the torch to the youths. Hence ASAA is desirous of launching a youth network. This network will enable all Deki Kilte Awlaelo that are in high school, enrolled in higher institutions as well as in technical and vocational schools to get together either via electronic forums or conferences or some other means that the technology offers them to discuss their future and the future of their Kilte Awlaelo and its citizens. This interdependence leads to collaboration among members of the network in the following ways:
- Those who are in high school will be motivated to do better and excel in their academic achievements so that they can enroll in universities.
- Those in universities will be motivated to score high in their studies so that they can have a better chance of employment and further their postgraduate studies.
- Those that graduated and are professionals and heads of departments will mentor the new graduates in how to find a job, how to do interviews, how to prepare their resume and when possible share more information on internships and job opportunities.
- Beyond this career and personal development the youth network will be a perfect forum for our young men and women to socialize and at times even find their life mates.
Project 5: Contributing to the growth of cultural capital and heritage
Awlaelo is one of the heritage icons of Tigray. It has incredible tourist attractions and it is a home to state wide famous artists. There is a wealth of literature that can be tamed to the spiritual, cultural, historical and academic development of the younger generation. Especially the Diaspora children can be direct beneficiaries of such activities. Hence ASAA is desirous of encouraging the following activities:
- Support documentation of the history of Kilte Awlaelo
This plan can be materialized by encouraging and supporting emergent scholars engaged in documenting the history of Awlaelo. For instance, undergraduate and graduate students who write their senior essays and theses on the history of Kilte Awlaelo can be encouraged both morally and financially by submitting their proposals in advance. The following are some of the areas that require scholarly attention:
- Historical sites available in the area
- The origin of the name ‘Kilte Awlaelo’
- Overall demographic essence
- Types of crops and animals (both domestic and non domestic)?
- Major food staples and drinks
- Minerals and other natural resources
- Major tourist attractions and scenic fascinations
- Historical figures from the area from early times to present
In order to realize the documentation effort, a call for proposals can be sent out and winning submissions can be funded with proper monitoring mechanisms.
- Encourage scholarly and creative writing in Tigrinya
- Awarding best literary works from teachers and students
- Creating a competitive atmosphere for writing supplementary teaching materials (This may apply to other subject areas as well.)
- Publishing best literary works and supplementary teaching materials, and make them available for sale in Ethiopia and outside of Ethiopia (Literary works can be critical for the cultural and moral well-being of Diaspora Tigreans and can be easily marketed.)
- Encourage scholarly and creative writing in Tigrinya
Project 6: Establishing science, math and language (English) foundations
Be it in the form of foundation or other organizational form, ASAA will plan to encourage the advancement of science and math in Awlaelo Schools, as these subjects are instrumental for the advancement of the region as well as the country at large. Hence the highest support possible will be given to all high schools to enhance student efficiency in math, science and English. If establishing foundations for these subjects is organizationally feasible, it should be done so as to benefit from other mega foundations like the National Science Foundation of the USA. The foundations will execute the following and other activities.
- Coordinate summer tutoring of Awlaelo schools by university students (mainly 3rd and 4th year university students)
- Acquire and manage resources like prepared videos of science, English and math to the library so that students can use them. Teachers of these subjects can be encouraged to assist students outside their normal teaching schedule
- Hold annual science fares
- Organize Awlaelo wide math, science and English competitions and award winners
- Transfer technology to students: exposure to the world-class science tools
- Encourage science innovation by students and award best innovations of the year in science
Project 7: Promotion of the physical and mental welfare of our youths through sports & cultural awareness:
- Encourage the establishment of different cultural clubs where students from different localities exchange ideas about their district values, norms, and heritages and enhance the collective esteem and pride of the youths.
- Encourage the establishment of competitive sport clubs in the school – intra and extramural activities – to motivate Kilte Awlaelo students and youths to be number one in sports in the Tigray region and for this purpose supply them with sport materials
- Encourage tourism and writing clubs to motivate students to write about folktales. Takes videos of historical sites and put them on web sites for tourist attraction. Promote by all means to engage students and teachers in publicizing anything Kilte Awlaelo can provide in tourist attractions and for these activities seek funding support from Culture and Tourism Office.
- Encourage the establishment of music clubs with the intention of establishing future music school in the area. Music is a powerful tool to sustain moral values and wisdom to our children. The late Kiros Alemayehu was a great person in sustaining hope in our people in trying times. The younger generation needs to follow suit!
- Cultivate the culture of reciprocity among the youth – lending a hand such as helping elders, cleaning the city and tourist sites, volunteering at clinics and hospitals, help orphans, and so on.
In the area of health and science, the following initiatives can be undertaken:
- Encourage the establishment of health clubs to make students aware of their health and the health of others in their surroundings. Make all students ambassadors of health so that they impact their family and neighbors about health issues particularly HIV-AIDS, TB and many other communicable diseases, thereby transforming public health in Kilte Awlaelo.
- Encourage medical professionals of Kilte Awlaelo origin to have a once a year health screening service at each high school, and provide lectures at some intervals through the health clubs on various health issues pertinent to the area such as teenage pregnancy, VDs, HIV-AIDS, TB and other public health concerns
- Encourage students to offer free support to the hospital in Wuqro and all clinics in the area.
- Support with equipment to the hospital such as heavy-duty washing machines, provision of latex gloves, syringes, surgery knives, etc.
Project 8: Promoting wealth creation among the youths (business education)
Education should be intertwined with professionalism and wealth creation. There is limited knowledge and tradition of wealth creation in Tigray/Awlaelo. Hence it is high time that business education is emphasized in Awlaelo schools. Students should be exposed to accounting, economics, finance and law concepts at high school unless they declare their field. Therefore, ASAA plans to:
- Provide some workshops in high schools and towns through its business graduates who may be vacationing in Kilte Awlaelo
- Encourage the creation of student cooperatives through which basic understanding of business concepts can be taught and actual business can be practiced by students.
- Exchange experiences on how businesses in corporate America operate
- Exchange some ideas of issuance of business licenses, tax collections and audit works for the benefit of the public and transparency in business work environment
- Exchange ideas on some business ethics issues, how to serve the public and what to expect from the public
Project 9: Establishing children’s library
Children are forgotten little angels back home. We have not seen a library that is children- oriented anywhere in Tigray if not all over Ethiopia. Consequently, there does not exist a good habit of reading fiction or any material beyond the textbook by most Ethiopian students. In order to create favorable literacy and reading tradition among the younger generation, ASAA intends to execute the following plans:
- Set a children’s section in Wuqro High School Library
- Allow parents to come to the library to reach to their children
- Assign a librarian for weekends to help the little kids in addition to the adults studying
- Collect children books
- Establish a network with other non-for-profit organizations such as ‘Ethiopia Reads’ and others for experience sharing and book donations
- Story reading for kids by good readers
- Set up kids tell kids story program
- Create park and recreation areas for kids and establish playgrounds
- Establish boys and girls soccer and other teams
Project 10: Information Technology
We are living at information age. Our world is becoming smaller and smaller primarily due to the Internet. Our youths in Kilte Awlaelo should have the basic knowledge of the use of the information system. They should acquire basic skills of surfing the Internet, email etiquettes, and do some research on any subject they want to know. To do this our association will provide support by:
- Donating computers to each high schools and to public libraries
- Subscribing to some web sites such as Lexus-nexus so that our brothers and sisters can get articles and research papers
- Giving workshops on how to use email, set email accounts, look for information in an easy manner with less information load, and basic computer training
- Teaching all basics in Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and Access
Project 11: Providing short and long term trainings
ASAA plans to mobilize its human resources all over the world, including in Ethiopia, and would like to organize short and long term trainings in basic skills like computing, Internet surfing (World Wide Web), business skills (like business plan preparation), environmental education, and all sorts of trainings. ASAA can rely on its members for these trainings but we may also spend limited resources for paying trainers and/or partner with NGOS to conduct these trainings. These trainings could be for teachers, students and the general public as well.