Freshly turned 18-year-old Alador Fitsum has been head over heels in sports since childhood. Growing up in a family of football enthusiasts, he was fortunate to spend most of his breaks outdoors.

Alador joined Feedel Youth Football Academy as a wing player parallel to his school work two years ago. His passion grew to pursue football as a career alternative, with plans to go to the UK next year.

His mother Yenenesh Fantahun, observed her children's growing interest and enrolled her five years old son to follow in his brother's footsteps.

"Investing in their future makes me happy," she told Fortune.

Founded by the Nigerian Samson. S. Samsun, Feedel Youth Football Academy established its operations three years ago.

The academy was founded as a Non-Governmental-Organisation and run through a Sports Commission registration license. However, Samson claims it is yet struggling to have a stable training centre or football field.

The summer program entails three days a week sessions for two months, with 4,500 Br.

Samson trains up to 80 children under the age of 15, at 11 Meda around Haile Gebreselassie Street. He longs to see some of his students turn to players in the big European leagues while settling for having some in the under -17 national league for the season.

"I had dreams of building a facility in Ethiopia," Samson told Fortune.

Besides the cold and misty weather, the rainy season offers less traffic congestion during rush hours on the roads of Addis Abeba as students take a couple of months' break from regular school.

For those with an eye for business, it serves as an opportunity to offer over a million children extracurricular activities that may hone their physical fitness, technical skill and social interaction.

"I myself was sent to a garage to be handy," said Hruy Tsegaye, a product manager at iCog Lab, an early entrant into the pre-nascent robotics and AI sector in Ethiopia.

iCog Lab offers programming language, web and mobile app development courses throughout the year with particular training sessions during the summer.

According to Hruy, the courses are best suited for children between the ages of eight and 14 interested in programming. The session with online or in-class options costs between 3,700-6,000 Br per month around Bole Medhanialem, Namibia Street.

It was founded by Getenet Assefa, Hruy Tsegaye, Misgana Bayeta, Amen Belayneh, Iskinder Tamerat and Ben Goertzel in 2013 with 50,000 dollars in capital.

The Anyone Can Code project spearheaded by the programming prodigy Betelhem Dessie is a subsidiary of the iCog Labs, operating under a software development license. The majority of the company expenses hover around human capital and high-tech computers, according to Hiruy.

"A trainee is expected to have the basic programming and coding skills upon completion," he told Fortune.

iCog offers another annual country-wide camp program called "SOLVE IT", funded by US Embassy and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), where students taking weekend coding classes for nine months present their applications.

Child psychologists suggest allowing children to relax in a creative and socially interactive environment guides children to develop problem-solving skills.

Metasebiya Mamo, a psychologist and guidance counsellor for over two decades, stresses fostering children's natural inclinations while monitoring the age appropriateness of the programs is necessary.

She observes the multidimensional impact that social media and smartphones have on the development of children needs careful attention. Metasbiya recommends limiting screen time and digital presence while pushing for activities that require socialisation.

"We are in a challenging era," she told Fortune.

Under its founder Hiwot Mamo, Hiwot Music School, located near CMC Michael Church, offers summer classes for children above four years old. While the school offer summer packages, the music school and vocal training have been available all year round since 2008.

The summer package includes special art classes, dance classes, storytime, and musical instruments three times a week for half a day, while parents are expected to doll out 13,500 Br for the two-month program.

Painted bright yellow colours, the classrooms have a child-friendly ambience complemented by miniature keyboards and guitars.

Hiwot is known for her long-standing career in music. After graduating from Yared Music School, she spent over a decade as a music teacher at Nazareth School.

She started giving private music lessons to the students, and the idea of opening a music school was incepted. Since then, Hiwot has released several videos of children's songs online that have become a staple at events and birthday parties.

Evidence shows that each additional year of education boosts a person’s income by 10pc and increases a country’s GDP by 18pc.

Research made in 2018 by Francesco Agostinelli on investing in children’s skills indicates that, on average, introducing a child to an environment where children have one percentile higher skills at an early age improves their skills as opposed to a later age.

Million Kibret, a managing partner at investment and finance consultancy firm BDO Ethiopia believes that summer programs that promote the acquisition of skills and innovation are capital expenditures.

According to Million, increased productivity of children will influence the country's growth in the long run. He reasoned that these schools are working on market-based skill building, which goes hand in hand with the current demand for soft-skilled human resources.

"Highest returns on investments are those spent in skills," he told Fortune.

For the children, it is discovering their natural talent, chasing a hobby, or connecting with peers with the variety of options laid out. For parents, it all comes down to their pocket and economic status.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 15,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1211]

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