According to UNESCO, 244 million children and youth are currently out of school and an additional 771 million adults are illiterate in 2023. Since 2011, Geneva Global has taken up an effort to reduce the number of out of school children in Ethiopia through the Speed School Program, also launching in Uganda in 2016. Still, approximately 3.6 million children in Ethiopia remain out of school according to Education Cannot Wait, and the numbers continue to increase due to violent conflict, climate change, malnutrition, and displacement. In Uganda, more than 10 million children were kept out of school for two full years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the country enforcing the longest lockdowns globally. It was speculated in 2021 that nearly a third of students may not return, according to Ugandan Education Officials on top of the approximately 400,000 children who were out of school prior to the pandemic.
While these numbers seem overwhelming, we at Geneva Global aim to view them as a source of motivation and a call for action. Given the many trials the world, and particularly these two nations have faced over the last several years, this can be a difficult task. As we wrapped up the 2022 year we reminded our Education Teams in the Uganda, Ethiopia and the United States of the impact they have made over the years, siting the more than 250,000 out-of-school children who were supported to return to the primary school system in both countries through the Speed School Program. We then called them to take a moment to reflect on the aspects of their work in education that have brought them the greatest pride this year. We will now share those here, in hopes that they highlight the progress being made in the education sector, even in moments when the enormity of the problem feels overwhelming.
“This time last year classes were opening with doubts of how long children were to stay in school before classes are closed again due to COVID. Uganda holds the record of closing its schools for the longest period in the world. This year comes with a beaming smile for the educationist because the normal calendar for schools is normalized. Children, their parents, and teachers can plan effectively with a normal school calendar, the years and period of uncertainty on when teachers will meet their learners physically are gone!”
Hannington Kakembo, Deputy Program Director, Geneva Global Uganda
“I am proud of the constant progress we are making in reaching more children in need of quality education. Specifically, I am pleased with Geneva Global branching out to new Districts in Uganda, expanding student-centered offerings to regular public schools in Ethiopia, and strengthening our Speed School for out of school children in both countries.”
Abdechafi Boubkir, Director of Programs, Geneva Global Inc.
“I am most proud of the joyful and vibrant speed school class when I see children progress all around, particularly in the lifeskills part, which is one of the big foundational pillars of lifeskills education: communication, decision-making, collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, and other 21st-century skills in applying their day-to-day lives.”
Abebaw Abitie, Deputy Country Director, Geneva Global Ethiopia
“I am most proud of the scale-up of the Speed School Program to four new districts in Eastern Uganda- a region that has for long grappled with high cases of primary school dropout. This expansion comes as the Ministry of Education and Sports and the National Curriculum Development Centre requested to have the program tested in other parts of the country, following good results it has yielded in Northern Uganda.”
Adnan Aluma, Program Manager: Education, Geneva Global Uganda
“I am most proud of the parental engagement in Speed School Program. They are improving their income and their awareness toward educating their children. I am also most proud of the Speed Schools learning achievement. They are gaining holistic knowledge and practical real skills.”
Megersa Wegari, Junior Manager, Geneva Global Ethiopia
“I am so thankful to our Education Teams in Ethiopia and Uganda and the students they were able to accelerate learning for during a time in which this issue became paramount around the world”
Scott Jackson, President & CEO, Geneva Global & Global Impact
“This year, I am very much proud as we are benefiting the most disadvantaged children in emergency ( conflict and drought ) affected areas, seeing the Speed School activity based pedagogic methods serving as a healing for traumatized children, facilitators and supervisors in the intervention areas.”
Takelech Abebie, Education Programs Director, Geneva Global Ethiopia
“I am most proud of mothers of the Speed School Children in Northern Uganda who are gradually having a mindset shift with more now opening up to creative ventures as an alternative to the traditional means of livelihood that depends entirely on climate. New off-farm enterprises such as shea butter production and bee keeping have come up.
Amazingly, the difficult situation during the COVID-19 period was used by some mothers productively as an opportunity to venture into new enterprises especially the production of liquid soap.” The introduction of these new skills has empowered some of these mothers to become Trainers. They are hired to train other mothers and are paid training allowances”
Caroline Adokorach, Program Manager: Community Engagement, Geneva Global Uganda
“I’m most proud that the support of the Speed School program for Children with Disabilities (CWDs), It created great opportunities for marginalized and children with disabilities, especially in the conflict areas, children social emotional interest maximized and now that several CWDs have benefiting thtedrough the program with bright future and hope.”
Abebayehu Kassa, Program Coordinator, Geneva Global Ethiopia
“I am most proud of the success of the virtual ECoPs. It was an idea Josh and I had started with the three new recruited Program Officers but until the last one at the end of the year, we would register over 25 participants from various titles and job roles. The enthusiasm each participant showed each Friday and the active participation always gave me more energy”
Rebecca Ecwou, Program Director, Geneva Global Uganda
“I’m so proud of our staff and partners in both Ethiopia and Uganda for finding ways to navigate a global pandemic and keep children learning as best as possible under nearly impossible the circumstances. Their dedication and commitment is incredibly inspiring!”
Nathaniel Heller, Vice President & Managing Director, Geneva Global & Global Impact
“One of my greatest prides from 2022 is how our Geneva Global teams in Ethiopia and Uganda have pivoted so effectively to capture new opportunities, responding to government priorities while maintaining such high quality with our conventional Speed School Program. In Ethiopia, this is illustrated by our support of government to embed Speed School methods into the national teacher training program while in Uganda it is visible in our adding new areas of the country with sizable out-of-school populations.”
Josh Muskin, Senior Director, Education Team Leader Geneva Global Inc.
“I am proud of deploying the Speed School program to reach out of school children (OOSC) who were deprived their right to education for one or another reasons. Its activity-based learning (ABL) method to prepare children for formal schooling within few months to reach their age met even with high performance and confidence. The multidimensional advantage is also another social gain to keep OOSC persuing their education through empowering mothers by providing startup money for IGS through organized self-help group . Still mothers are happy and committed to generate income, enhance saving culture, equipping their own children with necessary materials, and able to feed them at home. Besides, many of facilitators are also witnessing that ABL is encouraging and helpful for students in a way they can demonstrate skills and talents, so that they hope to change their lives through education. Many of adolescent girls in emergency affected areas become rescued from early marriage. And this makes me happier while serving the underserved community members.”
Nebiyu Mosa, ECW Program Director, Geneva Global Ethiopia
“I am endlessly proud of my colleagues in Uganda and Ethiopia. Despite constant challenges, their commitment to ensuring every child has access to education is awe inspiring. I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside individuals who are so willing to put the shared mission of Geneva Global and UNESCO above even themselves for the greater good of their communities, countries, and the future.”