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Transforming Early Childhood Education in Ethiopia – Alumna, Dr. Hawani Negussie

Published February 18, 2020

CED alumna, Dr. Hawani Negussie’s (MA, Early Childhood Education ’06; Ed.D, Educational Leadership, Elementary & Secondary Education ’14) non-profit Early Childhood Education Ethiopia was founded after her dissertation research led her to Ethiopia.

Dr. Negussie’s research examined how indigenous and cultural practices were being integrated in early childhood education programs in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abeba. “Once I started spending time in the classrooms…I realized early childhood education in Ethiopia faced several barriers, hindering the potential and challenging the current early education infrastructure.” That first-hand experience inspired Dr. Negussie to act. Thinking how she could positively impact Ethiopia’s educational field, Dr. Negussie, “came back with this urge to be useful, effective and wanting to give back to my country which has given me so much.”

Hawani Negussie
Dr. Hawani Negussie

Part of Early Childhood Education Ethiopia’s work partners with schools to create new or bolster already existing childhood-education programs. Through a “strength-based approach” Early Childhood Education Ethiopia reinforces school programs via teacher training and promoting best practices through the lens of a student learning outcome.            

“Currently, more than 50% of eligible preschool children in Ethiopia are not attending school due to lack of facilities, overcrowding, chronic illness, distance to school, and much more. We want to address these challenges by creating age appropriate and culturally relevant early education programs not only in the city where the concentration of preschools are, but in rural areas where the need is extremely high.”

Adopting the PK-16 approach allows for a comprehensive and holistic strategy that follows the student from early childhood through early adulthood. This PK-16 strategy directly links back to Dr. Negussie’s time as a student in the College of Education where she studied under Dr. Jyostna Pattnaik, Dr. Charles Slater, and Dr. Xin Li, who now serve as Board Members or Advisors to Early Childhood Education Ethiopia. “The educational approach at the College of Education is both highly rigorous in terms of course content but [is] also practice oriented. That is what I most valued during my tenure here, my education was directly linked into the work I assumed, during and post-graduation,” shared Dr. Negussie. "If I have to narrow down what prepared me to [do] the work we plan to do with the organization, I would have to say the PK-16 approach has been foundational to my study here."