Success Story

Back from the Brink: Allowigadhsii School nearly closed down due to low attendance of students before OWDA/ECW’s intervention with school feeding


It’s a bright sunny day morning on 11th of June and students line up for the mid-day meal that OWDA/ECW provides to students in every week day. Today 365 students feed at the school.

This primary school is the only school in Allowigadhsii Kebele and its surrounding communities and serves population of about 8,500. The village, which lies on the bank of Wabishabele river, was recently devastated by flood which forced its inhabitants to flee to higher grounds; many of them have not yet returned. In addition, the community endures many hardships including abject poverty and social marginalization.

The school has registered 1,218 students at the beginning of this academic year – 2020/2021 but the since the flooding the school saw sharp fall of the students’ attendance and welcomed daily on average less than 10% of the registered students.

According to the school principal Mr. Hirmoge Ali, sitting in tiny hot office with earthen floor and with no furniture other than old simple chair and table with piles of papers on it, explained that the reason for the students’ low attendance was primarily related lack of food and energy. Those who came to class often had difficulties in focusing on the lessons and their performance and attention in the classroom was low because of the empty stomach and low energy; their interest of the school was dropping. In addition to the low student attendance, the school had many other challenges including low teachers’ capacity and morale, damaged classrooms and students’ lack of scholastic materials. As a result, the school was facing the imminent risk of closing down.

Luckily, the school was selected as one of the Education Cannot Wait project target schools in Kelafo Woreda.  The project has quickly started to address the major problem the school faced – low students’ attendance – and launched school feeding on May 29, 2021. The school feeding provides home grown nutritious food consisting of maize and beans to every attending students at the break time. Since the start of the feeding, the school has seen climb in the students’ attendance, receiving on average about 318 students per day, more than triple the number before the start of the school feeding, and that number continue to increase every day. According to the teachers, the performance and attention span of the students in the classroom have increased.

According to the School Director the school feeding is good incentive for not only students but also parents. It is relief for the parents who used to worry about their children in the day time while away to fields. The parents struggle to make the ends meet and cannot prepare food for the young students during the day. So the school feeding encourages them to send their children to the school.

Among the students the school feeding attracted back to the school is Ayan Dahir.

Ayan, 12, is grade three and travels to school for an hour and half in one way. Her parents work in the field in the day and come back home – tired – in the night. The family prepares only one meal a day. She initially registered at the start of the school but did not use to attend classes. She benefits from school meal and also received ECW distributed scholastic materials and regularly attends school now.

“I like the school. It gives me chance to learn new things and to be around my friends and play with them” says Ayan. “The school meal is nice and provides me with energy I need to focus on my lessons, now I don’t have to worry about hunger”

For Ayan, there are no model females to follow in her community. Girls school dropout is high in her community and vast majority of girls are married off at early age. Nonetheless, Ayan has aspiration of becoming a teacher. “I want to become a teacher and educate future generations in my community” Ayan tells

In addition to the school meal, OWDA/ECW has provided scholastic material to 156 students in the school and trained 12 teachers and school director on instructional leadership, psychosocial support and literacy and numeracy.



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