Building Environmental Literacy in Ethiopia

Written by: Yeama Sow

Editors Note: Yeama Sow is a Green For All fellow from Class 5 (2011-2012). In October, she joined USAID-IFESH and the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia to establish a reading department at the Teaching College in Harare! She is also implementing her fellows project there.  Her project, Read and Eat, is an effort to improve literacy while educating children and families about healthy eating and increasing access to fresh food in Nashville, TN.  Below is an update about her work in Chiro, Ethiopia. 

In Chiro, Our Chiro “Go Green” Environmental Literacy project has been quite successful.  The purpose is to promote community and family literacy by developing a meaningful project that will change the reading culture of Chiro Town. Family literacy is a critical component of increasing reading levels of students in schools and communities. Currently, there is no local newspaper or reading information available in the community concerning issues of the day or other world-wide concerns. Through this project, environmental issues will be used as a way to interest community members in reading. The project also aims to help the Chiro community and students to become interested in reading for information and community development while increasing an awareness of helping to protect our air, water, and natural resources. College students and school age children will be asked to read about local environmental concerns and then create written reports about their discoveries in the form of a newsletter to the community.

As a result of our efforts with this project, we expect the interest in reading in the Chiro community to increase.  The students will experience reading in their natural home life, making reading more relevant, and the project will also raise awareness about solutions that will help keep the local environment clean and healthy—which will ultimately keep the community healthier. The idea is to make reading for information and community education part of Chiro’s daily life, and in the process, plant the seeds of environmental awareness. Our hope is that people in the community will become more conscious of recycling, reducing, and reusing resources. Finally, we will also increase the interaction between the college and community, with the college serving as a resource agency.  A clean environment will also create space for more innovation and creative thinking for building a thriving community education program and appreciation for reading necessary to community development.

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