Parents of children of Ethiopian Diaspora at Sandford International School in the capital have complained to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over fees paid for students. The parents are complaining that they are being excluded from a lottery system that allows Ethiopians to enter the prestigious school based on a local rate.
The school is alleging that these children carry an international citizenship and they should be forced to pay fees in American currency and multiple times more than local students as the school only recognizes passports of parents and the children are considered local or international based on their parents’ passport.
The school has had a long history in the country and is named after Christie Sandford, who was the wife of the head of the British Military Mission in Ethiopia. The school opened its door in 1947, shortly after the end of illegal occupation of the nation by Italian forces. The family were said to establish the school to allow their children to receive English education while in Ethiopia.
The parents are alleging that Ethiopia’s Yellow Card, that allows almost all privileges that is otherwise given to a citizen and given to Ethiopian natives with adopted citizenship from abroad gives them the right to be treated as local Ethiopians and pay in local currency.
The school was granted free land on the promise it would allow Ethiopian children to attend on a subsidized system. However, the administration is endorsing the premises that it can no longer allow the middle class to benefit from a program that is meant to those who cannot.
“Our admission policy only has two components, national and international,” Kumlachew Aberra, senior manager of Sandford, said. ”International means, at least one parent should hold a foreign passport, while national is having one parent with an Ethiopian passport. We target to be at least 60 percent national and the balance international.”
“Even with the yellow ID card, we recognize passports and that is in accordance with our policy”.
Internationals do not have to enter the lottery to enter the school.
Kumlachew confirmed to The Reporter about an ongoing conversation with the board and parents; however, according to him, there is no plan to change the policy to appease the complainants at this time.
According to the school’s website, Sandford International School is part of the Sandford International Endowment, a non-profit entity. The school is being run by a Board of Governors which is chaired by Addis Alem Balema (PhD).
Some parents complained to The Reporter about being forced to pay as much as five times more than the locals, but want to see that reduced.
“We were hoping to settle on perhaps paying about three times, but not six times and contribute our share,” one parent told The Reporter on conditions of anonymity.
Famous graduates of the schools are Noah Samara, the multimillionaire CEO of WorldSpace, Richard Hamlin, the son of Catherine Hamlin, who moved to Ethiopia from Australia and later founded Fitsula Hospital and award winning artist, the Armenian-Ethiopian Vahe Tilbian.