Changing educational narratives


Lebawi International Academy announced last week that it has decided to run a commercial school while maintaining many scholarships. After five successful years of full scholarships, Lebawi will admit competent students for the coming academic year. The school was established in 2013 with a goal of developing an Ethio-centric curriculum.
“It all began with a dialogue with my friend Haddis Tadesse, 15 years ago,” said Panos Hatziandreas, head of the school, and Country Representative. “He and I talked in Seattle while I was a university professor and we talked about how we had achieved what we had there just because we had the chance. He and I wanted to create that opportunity for smart Ethiopians.”
The school began with five teachers and 25 students. The school has graduated two batches and 50 percent of the students have been admitted in continents all over the world and in universities like Stanford and Yale. The other 50 percent are also doing well.
The school has researched and is incorporating indigenous knowledge and traditional learning instead of teaching only history and culture. Students must get the chance to learn Ge’ez and every student has to be able to translate a Ge’ez book to graduate from senior high school.
Teachers are said to be gathered from all over the world and have met high standards.
Lebawi allows students to mobilize resources from individual networks, the founders and board members.
“Haddis, who is the representative of the Gates Foundation in Africa, has mobilized various individuals and both of us have convinced them that there are very brilliant minds in Ethiopia so we want to help that be fully expressed,” said Panos.”It is easy if you ask donors to tell them that there are various children in Ethiopia which can’t access education, we don’t want that to be the scenario.”
We want to tell the truth that we have brilliant minds which can transform the world not only their country.
The scholarship is said to be continuing with the paying students on board since the coming year.
Most of the competent schools in Ethiopia are owned and run by foreign missions, like France, Britain or India, according to Panos. “We need to change the narrative that we are able to have an education system that can contribute to the rest of the world.”
The word Lebawi is derived from a Ge’ez word “Lebewe” which represents the act of strong desire truth and wisdom, from the bottom of the heart.
“We believe that wisdom is delivered from the heart, not a mind,” he said. “So, the Lebawi is represented by the Ethiopian narration of the source of wisdom to be one with the espousal.”
The opening of the school for the general public to get access is expected to raise the number of scholarship students and to cover the expenses of the school independently.
During the launching of the new format of the school students performed a play focusing on the popular argument in Ethiopia of the introduction of modern education.
The play depicted the popular argument around 1917 between those who want modern education and Ethiopian civilization to be based on the indigenous knowledge and those who argue in the contrary.
“We hope to see this school among the best schools on the continent and we are asking for everyone’s effort to bring up that change together.”