HER Program Graduates 100 Ethiopian Girls

NEW YORK and ADDIS ABABA, June 27, 2015—Among the proud graduates of Addis Ababa’s high schools this week, 100 extraordinary girls have a special reason to celebrate. These girls — 50 from Addis Ketama High School and 50 from Fitawrari Abayneh High School — have overcome significant obstacles to complete secondary school, with the help of special mentoring and financial and academic support from the Institute of International Education’s Higher Education Readiness Program (HER). They are the first group to take part in the HER program, which IIE launched in 2013 to provide girls in Ethiopia with pathways to university. IIE announced today that it has secured additional funding to provide the HER girls with additional support that will enable them to continue on to university.

The families, teachers and mentors of the students, along with IIE representatives from Addis Ababa, New York City and Washington, DC, gathered at the graduation ceremonies on June 27 to celebrate the girls’ accomplishments. The graduation event was sponsored by Enat Bank SC, GIZ, School of Tomorrow, and Coca Cola.

IIE Vice President Edie Cecil, who came from Washington for the graduation, said, “I met these girls over three years ago when they first started as HER participants. We are so proud of the work they have done not only to stay in school but to succeed and grow to become young, confident women focused on their futures and reaching their dreams. Jaye Chen, IIE, Executive Vice President and I am delighted to announce today that, thanks to generous contributions from our donors, IIE’s HER program will be able to provide the supplies and support that these outstanding girls will need to be able to continue on to university, along with mentoring so they can focus on their studies and work toward successfully completing their degrees.”

    The girls who are graduating from high school through IIE’s Higher Education Readiness Program have big dreams, and continuing on to university will help them reach their goals:

  • One HER student lives in Addis Ababa with her parents, five sisters and a brother, on a small monthly income. She helps her mother, who dropped out of school after 6th grade, with the chores. Her dream is to be a cardiologist because the heart’s functioning is critical to human survival. “It is especially agonizing to see babies and young people suffer from heart disease.”
  • Another HER student has lived with her mother and two brothers since the death of her father. Her mother, who has been the primary breadwinner, has had limited job prospects due to her 8th grade education, and currently works as a temporary janitor for a government office. She wishes to study science so as to be able to stop yellow fever, the disease which took away her father, from preying on others. She strongly believes in gender equality. In her words, “If given equal opportunity, women can demonstrate that they have the capacity to manage the world in a much better manner.”
  • The girls have outlined their goals in vision statements created through the program. Among them:

  • 50% want to study medical science and want to be medical doctors; some have specified that they want to be a dentist, cardiologist, pharmacist, or other specialist.
  • 20% want to study engineering and want to be an electrical, chemical or civil engineer.
  • 20% want to study law and  want to be lawyer, professional judge or women’s right advocate
  • 5% indicated they would like to have a double major, and have expressed interest in becoming an astronomer and astro-biologist, medical doctor, chemical engineer, engineer, artist and designer, author, doctor and artist, archeologist and journalist, doctor and astrophysicist.
  • The remaining 5% of the girls wish to pursue diverse fields of study, with the goal of entering professions such as economist, hotel manager, international reporter, business woman, chemist, architect, accountant, IT person, or model.
  • The Higher Education Readiness program provides 100 girls entering the 11th grade with scholarship support combined with innovative leadership and life skills training to help them complete their secondary education and equip them with the tools needed to continue on to university. In addition to tutoring and mentoring, HER conducts a two-year series of activities that included parents meetings, health and nutrition programs, entrepreneurship and English language training workshops, and opportunities to meet inspirational Ethiopian women who have overcome obstacles and become leaders in their fields. The program recently awarded its second round of 100 HER scholarships to 11th grade girls from Fitawrari and Addis Ketema schools who are scheduled to graduate next year at this time.

    IIE created the HER program in the belief that an investment in girls’ education is an investment in future female leaders who have the power to transform their communities. Research has shown that although 32 percent of girls in Ethiopia enroll in 9th grade, only 3.5 percent continue to 11th grade, and even fewer advance to university. This has a profound impact for workforce development and for the economic advancement of the society as a whole.

    Experts agree that educating girls and women is critical to economic development. According to a World Bank report on Girls’ Education in the 21st Century, educating girls is one of the most cost-effective ways of spurring development, and it correlates positively with increased economic productivity, more robust labor markets, higher earnings, and improved family and societal health and well-being, a major component of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) goals.

    The Institute of International Education is committed to expanding access to higher education globally. Drawing on IIE’s extensive experience in managing scholarships and conducting leadership and skills training, the Higher Education Readiness program aims to identify and address the obstacles that are keeping girls from entering university, and to provide financial resources as well as tutoring and enrichment activities that will prepare them to succeed in higher education and subsequently in the workforce.

    During the pilot phase of the HER program, experts in IIE’s Sub-Saharan Africa office in Addis Ababa, together with staff in IIE’s New York and Washington offices and IIE’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives in San Francisco, have begun to establish best practices for creating pathways for underserved secondary youth, particularly girls, to pursue higher education. 

    This new support for girls in higher education represents an expansion of the program, which will be implemented in the coming months. This activity will be a part of IIE’s participation in a Brookings Institute/Clinton Foundation led partnership of more than 30 partners—from governments, NGOs, foundations, and the private sector, called CHARGE — Collaborative for Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Girls’ Education, an initiative announced at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting last year. IIE will officially join CHARGE this September, making a commitment to support up to100 girls as they transition into higher education, with investments totaling up to $100,000 for the 2015-2016 academic year.

    IIE welcomes expressions of interest from potential partners who wish to advance the goals of the HER program. For further information, please contact HER@iie.org.

    About the Institute of International Education

    The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.

    IIE’s presence in Sub-Saharan Africa has spanned over 30 years. From 1979-2001, the USAID-funded South Africa Education Program opened the doors for black South Africans to obtain the knowledge, skills and professional credentials required to succeed in a post-apartheid government. In 2008, IIE established an office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we implement a strong set of programs in leadership development, organizational effectiveness, and higher education scholarship administration. By creating and administering exchange and training programs, IIE helps develop the talent and human resources needed to address the challenges and harness the opportunities emerging on the African continent.


    Public Affairs