How do students get selected?

Those students that EYES supports directly are referred to us through the local Office of Rehabilitation and Social Affairs (ORSA) who maintain a register. This register is compiled from kebele (local parish type locations) referrals through the Social Affairs Bureau. Additionally accepts referrals of disabled students through the Makale Ortho-Physiotherapy Centre (MOPC). EYES supports Aids orphans through an Aids support NGO and ex-street children through another local NGO. Those NGOs select and administer their own students with funding from EYES, which we monitor regularly. Exceptionally, and subject to fitting our criteria, a foreigner may recommend a student to us that they undertake to sponsor through our scheme. No student is discriminated against for their gender, religion or ethnic background.

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What is the Ethiopian School System?

Kinder gardens have up to three years, and they are fee-paying, Government schools go from Grade 1 to Grade 10 and students can get a school leaving certificate at Grade 10. Dependent on grades received student can go onto a government TVET college (Technical and Vocational Education Training) to study a trade, computing or agriculture. After two years the student receives a Certificate, after three a Diploma or pre-university (2 years) and university 3-6 years, dependent on course. Those exceptional students ineligible for government university places may be supported at a number of the new private fee-paying universities or colleges for degree or diploma courses.

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How long do you support students?

EYES will support a student from Kinder garden up to the maximum of their academic or vocational potential at any recognised educational establishment within the country. This can mean support for a minimum of 15 years, something few other organisations do. After leaving the scheme on completion of their education male students receive three months support, female students a full year. This is to enable them to find work or work on free service to gain valuable work experience.

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Do students leave the scheme and if so why?

Some students leave if they find full-time employment, or employment paying more than their scholarship. This is encouraged - as that is what we are educating them for. These students often continue their education in the evenings at their own expense. One student went overseas to study with direct sponsorship support. A very few students have, sadly, had to be withdrawn from our support scheme due to their, or their carers, misuse of funds. So far no student has had to be excluded for discipline.We see our job to help them see their errors and get them back to studying.

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Why do some students get higher scholarship than others?

A basic scholarship is US $ 20 a month. Disabled students get more to enable them to rent a room near to school as access is often difficult for them. Students in Addis Abeba get more as it is more expensive to live there, and again this depends on whether they are living with relations or renting a room on their own. Some students get a little more if their particular sponsor requests it, but this is generally not encouraged as can cause a certain amount of resentment.

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Do you give overseas scholarships?

The value of one overseas scholarship can often pay for a hundred elementary student scholarships, so the answer is generally no. Unless, that is, we have a specific donor who is prepared to underwrite this cost for an exceptionally well recommended individual student.

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Do all students have sponsors?

Not necessarily, older students often do not have sponsors as they are more difficult to get. Whether a student has a sponsor or not does not in any way affect how they are treated.

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Can sponsors write to students?

Yes this is encouraged but not obligatory. If you start writing, please be prepared to continue for many years. Please address your letters/packets to Bisrat Mesfin, EYES Manager, PO Box 839, Makale, Tigrai Region, Ethiopia and put your student reference number and name on the letter/packet. We recommend that you do NOT use surface mail as Ethiopia has no sea port. Remember few students will be able to read or write English until they are Grade 10 so we will have to translate both ways. Whilst we will try to tell you when your message is delivered, please bear in mind some of our students are far away in remote places often under military occupation - so not always easily accessible. Rarely letters/packets do go astray, it happens during civil disturbances or border wars. We know air postage is expensive, so please consider this minimal risk and do not expect too much! Our Post Master and his staff are well known to us and very supportive of our work. Be assured that they are totally honest.

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Can sponsors send small things and if so what?

Yes , educational things are best with perhaps a few plastic bobbly things for girls hair. Exercise books, pens, pencils and coloured crayons are appreciated, as all have to be bought. Your photo is welcome! Plesase do not send money since it may get lost.

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Why have you got so many disabled students?

Over 20% of our supported students are severly disabled.Sadly Ethiopian and indeed African rural belief traditionally stigmatises disabled people.Many of our children have polio due to being unable to get vaccinated due to civil wars. Others, near the border areas or land mine-injured victims with lost limbs. There are few special facilities for the disabled. By helping these youngsters attend school we are helping them live normal integrated and useful lives. Invariably all our disabled students do incredibly well academically are become much admired by their peers. All are incredibly cheerful, a joy to help and uncomplaining.

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Can I send my old computer or some books I do not want?

Thank you but not really. Experience has taught us that it is very expensive to ship. Old computers do not seem to last long .Books again are heavy and often do not fit with our curriculum. In the UK there are organisations that renovate and process computers and book for developing countries. They are: Computeraid and Bookaid

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How can I help?

Buy an ethical gift - a double desk set costs US $40 and we will arrange for a Certificate of Appreciation to be sent to you or your nominated friend. Raise funds, run a marathon, have a sale or an event - and send the funds to us, or through our UK funding partner. Or sponsor a nominated child for US $ 20 a month - contact in the first instance, our funding charity.For more information look at the Donors Site.

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Why can't I come as a volunteer?

Thank you for the offer. We are a relatively new fledgling organisation and really at this stage do not have the infra-structure to support any over-seas volunteers. If you are really interested and self-financing, we may be able to direct you to another larger organisation. We do know of other organisations that take Gap Year and older English teachers.

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How do projects get selected?

Requests for school upgrading usually come to us through a village community supported by a local Ministry of Education official. We only would support elementary school projects in poor rural communities. We visit the school and affirm the need together with the capacity of the local community. After discussion, we may submit it to our major funders A-CET who, if acceptable to them, will look for overseas sponsor/s

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Why are there always famines in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a huge country (the size of France and Spain together). There can be a food shortage in one region whilst, at the same time, a plentiful harvest in another. The country has contingency plans for self-sufficiency and moving food from one area to another on an im proved road infrastructure does take place but - population is increasing very fast, much land is degraded and we still do have droughts and poor harvests. Sadly we have learnt that the international media seem to like to highlight disasters - rather than our good newsstories.

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Why do we always hear of troubles and does it affect what you do?

As in the answer above, international media seem to love to report a crisis. All countries have dissenters. We need steady long-term help, debt cancellation and fair world trade, not carping criticism. We do not want off and on support programmes dependent on political whims. We continue educational programmes for decades so a few civil disturbances will not affect any of our programmes.

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What about the corruption we always hear about?

Please be assured that there is an absolute zero tolerance to any form of corruption in the areas where we work. We get full support from all branches in all areas, even if sometimes it takes longer to get things done due to the available infrastructure.