A Community Leader Works to Create Future Leaders

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Megabi Benti, 60- year- old Parent Teacher Student Association leader, lives in Didesa Woreda of Oromia region.

A well-known community elder with a passion to tell stories to children, Megabi Benti started his story telling sessions with children in the community in December 2018, when READ Community Outreach started to strengthen its intervention in Tullu Lami school in the Woreda. Megabi tells us why he is passionate about story telling for children.

“There was no school in this area when I was a child so I couldn’t go to school. I had to keep animals when my peers with wealthier parents travelled to other towns in search of education.  Fortunately, I was able to learn how to read and write thanks to the alternative basic education program that came to my community later

In December 2018, I came to a decision that I should help children in my community to be efficient readers and learn from local stories. The school director at Tullu Lami school, Tsegaye, told me that children gather in the school to participate in reading and writing clubs under the Community Outreach project. I thought I should work around this schedule and started telling stories to about 50 students once every week. I mostly tell them local stories which teach them about the importance of education, our community norms, and the importance of protecting our environment and good hygiene practices.  Right now, more than 240 children come to my story telling sessions. Over half of these are girls.”

Meagbi Sits under a Tree Surrounded by Childen who Listen to his Stories

Tsegaye Worku, the director for Tullu Lami school, speaks about how much children love to attending Megabi’s story telling sessions. He says, “The children’s love of reading has increased since Megabi started his story telling session in the school. He is doing something exemplary. The children love him a lot and they don’t want to miss the story telling sessions. His stories were recently changed in to books for the school and so far, three books containing 13 stories and 2 poems have been prepared for children. The students now read them in class and teachers are using them continually.

“Local stories like Megabi’s can help increase children’s appetite for reading and also serve as another opportunity for schools to get more reading materials for the school. We have got supplementary reading materials with different titles which were provided by the READ Community Outreach project and most of them are already read by students. People like Megabi can help us get more titles of new stories. As they come from the community, they are easy to access and the children relate to them better,” added Tsegaye.

“My dream for these children is to become great readers and to realize their dreams through education,” concludes Megabi.

Save the Children, under the leadership of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education, has been implementing USAID’s four-year long READ-CO project since January 2015. The project aims to improve the reading and writing skills of children by developing and providing new supplementary reading materials and creating opportunities for children to practice these skills at school, home and elsewhere within the community. Implemented in 96 Woredas in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions and 2,488 primary schools, the READ CO project is currently reaching 962,757 children in grades 1-4.