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Books are really essential for learning. Unfortunately, most schools in Ethiopia don’t have adequate books for students. Some call it the “book dearth,”
and in Ethiopia it is a huge issue, since the number of students each year grows at a significant rate.
Abebe Kebede is a professor at a North Carolina university and for the past four years he has been involved with “Books for Africa”, a U.S based organization that specializes in collecting books from various countries and sending it to schools in Africa.
“Information is power and books can provide that. There are so many books in the developed world that are not being used and are redundant; therefore, why not get people to donate books they didn’t need and send it to different schools in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa where so many students could benefit from them?” said Abebe.
Currently, there are over 20,000 books and 15 computers being shipped to Ethiopia and the shipment has reached Djibouti. “These books and computers that are on their way here will be given to some schools in Assela and to Gondar University.
Right now we are facing some problems with customs. Since these books are collected from many different people, we don’t really know their prices and customs authority in Addis Ababa asks for that kind of information in order to determine how much to tax. I think the directive on tax should be flexible for cases like ours, because the books are donations and are sent to help students in Ethiopia. The government should take this into account and make things easier,” said Abebe.
The Ethiopian Scientific and Academic Network (ESAN), which is another organization that helps with similar projects alongside Books for Africa, has sent over 44,000 books to Ethiopia since 2009.
“Everybody can do something; we all have to own the problem and we shouldn’t wait for foreign aid or NGOs to solve the problem for us. We should do it ourselves,” said Abebe.
Other than donating books, Abebe and The Ethiopian Scientific and Academic Network (ESAN) also organize the “One Dollar” campaign regularly. It is a project designed to collect donations to use for scholarships, meals and uniforms for needy students in Assela.