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NewsAug 5, 2022

Event raises $33,000 for Ethiopian schools

Longstanding partnership between Lesley and Ethiopian nonprofit distributes graduate student-created, culturally relevant science books

image of children's books on tagle
Educators and others recently raised $33,000 to support Ethiopian schools as part of an event celebrating culturally relevant science books for children. The books were written and illustrated by students in our Graduate School of Education.

A recent Ethiopian Science Story Project book launch at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, raised $33,000 late last month to support 30 schools.

The July 15 event celebrated the publication and distribution of 13 culturally relevant, scientifically accurate books for schools in Ethiopia as part of the story project, which was created by Graduate School of Education faculty member Dr. Susan Rauchwerk.

The books were written and illustrated by Lesley students in Rauchwerk's science methods course and are accompanied by a read-aloud guide for family and educators. Each book was translated into English, Amharic and a local language (Tambarsa, Kembatisa or Hadiyisa, languages of the Hadiya and Kembata Tembaro regions, where the books will be distributed). The books will be printed in Ethiopia and will be ready for students when they return to school in the fall.

Rauchwerk has worked with several organizations over the years to support access to learning in Ethiopia, including WEEMA, which is responsible for the translation and distribution of the books in Ethiopia.

In 2018, Rauchwerk and her Graduate School of Education students began collaborating with WEEMA (Water, Education, Economic Empowerment, Medical and Alliance). The partnership resulted in the production of children's science books for areas where none are available.

There are over 80 languages in Ethiopia, but few local languages are taught in schools. Students are mostly taught in English and in the national language of Amharic, which, according to Rauchwerk, puts them at a disadvantage in terms of literacy. Creating simple children’s books about engaging science topics is an opportunity to help children succeed.

“This is really groundbreaking,” Rauchwerk said when the partnership was first launched. “Ethiopia has not had many of their textbooks translated into these 80 languages so most learn in a language not their own.”