Introducing the Higher Education Readiness (HER) Program: A Path to University for Girls in Ethiopia

32.4% of girls in Ethiopia enroll in 9th grade, but only 3.5% continue to 11th grade, which is their path to advance to university. Imagine what the impact would be on the girls, their families and their communities if we could significantly increase that number?

IIE is piloting a program in Ethiopia to do just that. The Higher Education Readiness Program (HER) will provide 100 girls entering 11th grade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, with scholarship support combined with innovative leadership and life skills training to help them complete their secondary education and equip the students with the tools they need to continue to university.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and, with my colleagues from IIE’s Sub-Saharan Africa office in Addis Ababa, lay the foundation for this exciting new IIE-funded program. After coordinating with the Ministry of Education, we chose two schools to be part of the pilot project. Addis Ketema Preparatory School is located in a bustling market area of Addis. Fitawrari Abayneh Secondary School is located on the outskirts of Addis where many people have a subsistence lifestyle. Both are academically high performing schools with students that come from very underserved populations. While there, I met with the principles and key staff. All were talented professionals, deeply committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for their student body. 
IIE held application completion workshops at Fitawrari Abayneh and Delachen School (a feeder school for Addis Keteme). Hundreds of girls attended, all interested in learning more about HER and how to complete an application. Applications are due this week, and IIE is hosting independent selection panel meetings on March 25th and 26th in Addis.
IIE’s goal for HER’s pilot year is to refine an effective model for a secondary school scholarship program that will not only increase girls’ participation in higher education, but will also achieve greater scale that we can expand in Ethiopia and replicate in other countries. 
Check back next week for more blogs about the application selection panels and then join us to follow the program over the coming year!