Disatu Eyes Foundation Students Outperform Local & National Peers on the Higher Education Entrance Exam


by Dan Shiferaw


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Fifty percent of high school female seniors supported by Disatu EYES Foundation passed the Ethiopian Higher Education Entrance Examination (EHEEE) for enrollment at Ethiopian public universities in 2023.  Only 2.3% of female 12th graders passed the EHEEE nation-wide in addition to 2.8% of locals.

DISATU EYES foundation is a 501© (3) tax exempt foundation established in the state of New Jersey. The foundation provides educational & healthcare support to high-achieving, low-income girls with great character in secondary school in rural Ethiopia. These girls are encouraged to study natural sciences in high school and college. Services provided include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and mathematics) tutoring, basic healthcare assessments/training, food stipends, and scholarships.

The foundation was established in New Jersey, USA before registration in Ethiopia as an NGO in 2018. The foundation’s board members, staff, and its supporters are committed to empowering these young high-potential girls by providing them with educational, financial, & personal support. Our goal is for our students to complete high school, pass the 12th grade national exam, graduate from college, and give back to their communities and society at large.

In addition to its location in the village of Woliso, Disatu EYES Foundation has a base of operations in the capital city, Addis Ababa. This site focuses on elementary school students following them from 4th grade on through high school and college. There are currently twenty-four students in this program who have made it to 8th grade and are performing well so far. Through this program, we seek to evaluate if early intervention with our students in elementary school will make a significant difference in how many attend college as compared to our girls in the Woliso program, who start in high school.   

For more about the organization, please visit www.eyes.foundation.

All in all, the EYES foundation has several projects to achieve its high-level goals:

  1. Medical Care & Counsel: sex education, menstrual hygiene, one- to-one health counseling, & routine medical screening
  2. STEM Subject Teaching: take advantage of modern educational tools such as Khan Academy 
  3. Mid-Day Meals & Monthly Stipend: promote continued attendance. 
  4. College Scholarships: support higher education attainment in STEM fields.

A significant number of high school seniors supported by the foundation passed the Ethiopian Higher Educational Entrance Examination (EHEEE) for enrollment at public universities in the last four years (2019-2022). All 40 students who passed the national exam are now attending several universities continuing their education.  

Please see the chart below for the results comparing % of EYES v local students attending college after passing the EHEEE.

Nearly 900,000 Ethiopian high school students took the EHEEE in 2022. Only 2.3% got the passing grade nationwide compared to 50% of Disatu EYES students. While we expected higher performance by our students this year, their results were still significantly better than the national average.

While all graduating Ethiopian high schoolers have the option to apply to private colleges, public universities include free tuition and room/board. Therefore, disadvantaged families have a more accessible opportunity to attain a higher education and build their careers & livelihoods if they pass the national exam and attend public universities.

However, high schoolers from rural areas are at a significant disadvantage compared to urban and private secondary school students, who dominate public universities, due to the reduced resources available to them. The fact that EYES Foundation supported seniors outperformed local & national peers is a testament to the hard work of our students, the excellent instruction of our staff, and the success of our program since 2018.

Our students attending college still need more financial support for their higher education. As little as $20 a month will go a long way towards helping our girls take care of food, books, & miscellaneous expenses to supply their education & day-to-day living. We also accept donations of iPads, desktop/laptop computers, classroom supplies, summer/spring clothes, menstrual hygiene products. 100% of your tax-deductible financial support will directly be given to these students to cover their needs and help them achieve their dream. 

We would like to sincerely thank our corporate sponsor, Johnson & Johnson for their generous financial support and encouragement in the last four years. 

Please visit https://eyes.foundation/give/donate to learn more.

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