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Playing hard and dreaming big in Ethiopia

Hennock hugs his friend before class in Ethiopia.

Hennock plays with his friends before class at their Plan-supported early learning centre.

5-year-old Hennock wants to be a pilot when he grows up. “I want to go anywhere I like,” he said. “I want to take my friends to the countryside!”

It’s an ambitious goal for a little boy who lives in one of the poorest countries in the world. Ethiopia is a country where 36 million people are struggling to survive, and a place where most children are denied their right to participate in school. Instead, they spend their time fetching water, tending to crops or caring for their siblings at home.

Keeping the minds of children active

But play is crucial for a child’s development and proven to help with brain development. Through play, children make lasting friendships and they’re encouraged to explore. Being able to participate helps children process and manage their emotions, build social skills, learn to share and helps kids get creative.

The right to play is an essential part of growing up and one that ensures all children reach their full potential.

But just 4.2 percent of all children living in Ethiopia are enrolled in early childhood education centres, causing millions of children to miss out on their right to play and learn.

Early learning helps children thrive

Hennock is one of the lucky ones. He attends a quality early learning centre supported by Plan in Ethiopia. Here, Hennock learns from trained teachers, uses proper education materials and plays with other children.

  • Hennock hugs his friend before class in Ethiopia.

     / Hennock plays with his friends before class at their Plan-supported early learning centre.

  • Hennock, 5, stands at the chalkboard and receives help from his teacher.

     / Hennock receives help from his teacher during a math lesson

  • Hennock, 5, from Ethiopia, raises his hand in class.

     / The early learning centre gives Hennock the confidence to participate in class.

  • Hennock and his friends play on a swing in the playground of their early learning centre.

     / Playing outside with friends is a crucial learning experience for children who attend Plan's early learning centres.

  • Hennock plays hopscotch in the school yard while his friends watch.

     / Hennock and his friends are encouraged to play games outside in the school yard.

  • Hennock stands at a chalkboard and writes letters of the alphabet

     / Hennock practices his writing during class at the early learning centre.

  • 3 of Hennock's teachers stand in front of the early learning centre in Ethiopia.

     / Plan supports the training of the teachers who teach at the early learning centre to ensure all students are receiving a quality education.

Plan is supporting communities across Ethiopia by setting up early learning centres, just like the one Hennock attends. To help these centres thrive, we’re training teachers and parents to support the development of their young children, and working with the government to help develop policies and initiatives that promote early learning.

Today, thousands of Ethiopia children are getting a better start to life, just like Hennock – the future pilot.

Help children like Hennock reach their full potential.