Panafric International Academy




2016-teethA new year may not be magical in itself to transform anything. However, New Year's resolution has become almost a cultural tradition in the West. It is a time that many reflect on the past year, rethink and reorganize for the coming year. Moreover, it gives one the opportunity to forgive oneself for broken promises, to right wrongs, to reaffirm relational commitments, look forward to new promises, hopes, plans, and energize oneself to become a better person

So, I would like to wish everyone a happy New Year and success in your 2017 New Year resolutions!



The Brain-Drain Dilemma

For the past thirty-five years Ethiopia suffered an immeasurable level of brain-drain. From the time of the communist military junta (1974-1991) to the present (1991-2011), it has become the norm for thousands of Ethiopian brightest-and-best to leave their country that needs them most and migrate towards the West for a better life and political freedom.



The Uncertain Future

As I write this entry, and a U.N agency (FAO) reported a severe drought in progress in East Africa. According to the report, “In Ethiopia, millions more require emergency food assistance.  What’s more, the lack of rain is blamed for the deaths of 220,000 cattle in the Borena Zone along the southern border with Kenya.”



For the Sake of the Future Generation

“Transformation” is a recent buzz word in Ethiopia. The politicians of the ruling party and the state television constantly introduce this English word into almost any conversation. It gives the impression that either the targeted audience is those outside of Ethiopia or the Amharic equivalent (i.e. lew’T) is too dynamic for the context it's been used.



TEACH THEM HOW TO FISH - That is the help needed!

 fishEthiopian immigrants are not strengers to the existing stereotype associated with their homeland. For many minds, Ethiopia is a country so dependent on foreign aid and one that may never pull itself out of poverty.

The genesis of that perception might be traced back to the mid nineteen-eighties where the horrible famine that ravaged the norther part of Ethiopia was brought into every household through the television screen- the Michael Buerk 1984 BBC documentary.



The Problem

Teacher in Empty ClassroomThe following information was taken from the report "Back to School?", produced by the Global Campaign for Education (Education International, Plan International, Oxfam, Save the Children and VSO).  According to the report, Ethiopia is  "teetering on the brink of an education crisis".  It is one of the five worst countries in the world to be a school child.  This assessment was based on 4 factors:

  • Access to universal basic education
    • Only 37% of Ethiopian children complete Primary Education, and only 12% complete Secondary Education. Two out of every three Ethiopian adules do not even have basic literacy.
  • Political will for education
    • Ethiopia has no legal guarantee for free education, and free school meals are not provided.
  • Quality and learning
    • Ethiopia has only 34% of the minimum number of primary teachers required, and only 72% of the minimum number of secondary teachers required. Furthermore, learning outcomes are low because schools only operate for half a day, resources are sorely lacking, many teachers are untrained, unmotivated and/or undisciplined, and classrooms are crowded.
  • Equal opportunity for education
    • Ethiopia ranked 51st out of 60 nations in providing education for girls. Over 80% of girls do not reach secondary school; 46% work as labourers before the age of 14 and 55% are married before the age of 18.

Education Beats Poverty

Children in ClassroomThere is compelling evidence that failing to achieve universal education holds back economic growth. Simply getting all children into school has a direct positive impact on economic growth. Then once children are in school,ensuring that the education they receive is good quality multiplies the impact because it provides them with the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to thrive in the world. A recently completed study from 50 countries established that every extra year of schooling provided to the whole population can increase average annual GDP growth by 0.37%. Where the education is good quality, the improvement of cognitive skills increases the impact to 1%. Another survey of 120 countries from between 1970- 2000 provides compelling evidence that education consistently and significantly affects economic development and is a necessary precondition for long-term economic growth. Put simply, the better the quality of education, the bigger the impact on growth. Good quality education also provides people with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to pursue their livelihoods more effectively. Completing just four years of basic education makes a farmer an average of 8.7% more productive. Having been to school also means that farmers can adapt more quickly to new techniques and technologies. Some key statistics:

  • No country has ever achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without first having at least 40% of adults able to read and write.
  • An adult who has completed primary education is likely to earn 50% more than an adult who has never been to school.
  • A single year of primary school can increase the wages people earn later in life by 5-15% for boys and even more for girls.

We have a vision to help address this problem.




To learn more about the Panafric International Academy, contact:

In Ethiopia

Mesfin Atlaye

Executive Director
Panafric International Academy

Hawassa, Ethiopia

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

+251 928-409310 or

In Canada

Martha and Wayne Cole

(519) 471-1897

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or

Mr. Roy Wallace

(519) 473-0909



Our Story

The Genesis

Personal Story:

My name is Mesfin Atlaye. I’m an Ethiopian national, a Canadian citizen, academic, and a visionary. In the Fall of 2012, my wife and our five children relocated from London Ontario to Awassa Ethiopia for the main purpose of opening a purpose driven school. For some time, it has been my desire to return to Ethiopia and contribute to the social and economic development of my homeland. The idea of building a school in Awassa was born during my visit in 2007. At that time, I observed a drastic decline in education quality, an alarming number of lower grade dropouts, and a high level of brain drain in the country.

During that visit, I also saw a number of school aged children roaming around the cities aimlessly when they were supposed to be at school- young boys and girls, most of them under the age of ten, begging the passerby for pennies to feed themselves. According to some of them, they beg on the street to buy bread for their siblings. Their playground was the underground drainage holes where the city filth flows.

I had the opportunity to talk with many of them and I was disturbed by the fact that most of these children were unable to go to school simply because that opportunity did not present itself to them. Some of them claim to have no parents. Some are runaways from abusive care givers. Yet others, either their parents could not afford to pay the little registration fee at the public school or to buy for them the basic writing materials- so they quit school.

Panafric International Academy (PIA) is a humble response to that need. I’m part of a group of Christian educators and other professionals in Canada, organized to give quality education to those who cannot dream it. Our short term goal is to immediately open a KG-8 school in Awassa using a leased premises and locally hired staff. Our long term goal is to build a (K-12) progressive school in Awassa that will accommodate between 900-1300 children where a significant number of children from destitute families will be included. This will be a school for all children without discriminating against them through ethnic, religious, economic or other labels. PIA will use the national curriculum as its base. All fulltime teaching and administration staff will be Ethiopian nationals- carefully recruited and retrained according to the PIA policy and principles. We will have a wide volunteer program where educators and people with various skills from Canada and elsewhere will volunteer their time to train and share their expertise with our school community. That is the vision.

Panafric International Academy is a progressive school. It has started its operation in Hawassa, Ethiopia in 2014 academic year as a Kindergarten.  In our second year of operation, we have now opened a branch in another location within the same city for grades 1-4 in order to widen our service to more communities and to give the opportunity for more children. In the next academic year we plan to grow to grade 8; and in five years to open grade 12.





About Awasa

Awassa (also spelled Awasa or Hawassa) is a city on the shores of Lake Awasa in the Great Rift Valley. Located in the Sidama Zone 270 km south of Addis Ababa, find Awasa is the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) Region. It has a population of over 260,000 people, comprising over 45 indigenous ethnic groups..

Awasa is home to Hawassa University (which includes a Main Campus, an Agricultural College and a Health Sciences College), attractive Resorts, Industrial Park, an airport, and more.

The Southern Region is very fertile, and is well know for its coffee plantations.  Fishing is also a major local industry, and soccer and basketball are popular sports.



On the Brink of an Education Crisis


In 2010, the Global Campaign for Education (comprising Education International, Plan International, Oxfam, Save the Children and VSO) produced a report entitled "Back to School?" According to that report, Ethiopia is one of the 5 worst countries in the world to be a school child, and is "teetering on the brink of an education crisis."



About Ethiopia

Women Carrying WaterEthiopia has become a landlocked country since EPRDF became the rulling party in 1991. Located in the Horn of Africa, and officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 90 million people, and the tenth-largest by area, with its 1,100,000 km.



Our Vision


Panafric International Academy will be the school of choice for families in the Hawassa area who are seeking an exceptional education for their children. PIA will be recognized as an educational leader – providing enriched programming, inspiring teachers, and a safe, happy, loving and caring learning environment.




Through quality education, active learning, and strong work ethics, we empower our boys and girls to overcome their academic, socio-cultural and economic limitations.

To BUILD and operate a progressive KG to grade 12 schools for children of all ethnic, nationality, religious, and economic backgrounds.

To CREATE a safe and resourceful learning environment where young minds are nurtured to reach their full potential and dream  big dreams.

To ESTABLISH a school culture where all stakeholders respect and value one another and become compassionate citizens.

To EQUIP students with essential social skills and age appropriate practical life-skills so they become socially responsible and economically independent, starting from early years.

To EMPOWER the school community to appreciate and be proud of their African identity and heritage.


“No child should be left behind!”




Support Us

I.  PIA Building Fund: 

Over the next 2 years Panafric International Academy will move to a new premise in Hawassa. The student population has grown so fast and the rental properties have become so expensive it is now time to move to our own building. Please consider a donation towards the Building Fund! 

donate now

II.  Sponsor a Child:

Currently, PIA has registered 26 children from destitute families who would never have been able to attend school had we not accepted them. All of these children are victims of poverty.

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  • A donation of $35/month or Annual $350 will cover the child’s monthly tuition, pay for a uniform, transportation, and school materials- a back pack and other necessities.

donate now

III.  Join Our Team

 We need volunteers to serve as advisors, board members in Canada and Ethiopia. Consider this worthwhile venture in Canada by sending your name to PIA Advisory Board representatives, Martha Cole: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or Roy Wallace at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or in Ethiopia to PIA Executive Director, Mesfin Atlaye: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 

IV.  Volunteer Your Time: come and teach at our schools

  • English Language (ESL) Teachers
  • Music and Drama Teachers
  • Creative Writing
  • Trades: woodwork, metalwork, etc.
  • Basic Computers Teachers and Website Developers
  • A Librarian and library organizer
  • Physical Education/Gymnastics, etc.
  • Art and Crafts

Please donate via Devxchange International Development!

donate now

 DevXchange International is a Canadian registered charitable organization. Charitable tax receipts are issued for all donations.