The idea for Reach International Center of Education (RICE) was conceived in the early months of 2012 arising from two sparks. The first spark was seeing yet again the demand by parents for an education that will both prepare their child academically, but one which will also lay a solid moral and ethical foundation, developing a child’s character; a character especially moulded with Christian values. The second spark was the desire to provide quality international education that would encourage Ethiopians living abroad to return to Ethiopia. Ethiopians who live overseas or have been studying overseas with their families are often concerned about the education of their children when returning. This concern has unfortunately resulted in many families deciding to remain overseas. We would like to see RICE provide one contributing factor for Ethiopians to return to their home country of Ethiopia.
These two sparks ignited an ongoing conversation between Andy, Haimi and Clare about the desirability and possibility of starting an international school that was framed within a Christian environment. After much prayer and deliberation we decided to push the doors and see what God would do. God not only opened doors wide but also in doing so He confirmed to us that the seeds of vision growing within our hearts were indeed set there by God Himself. Within two months all requirements were met in order to obtain the appropriate license from the Investment Agency in Ethiopia.
Beside the expectation of raising the minimum required capital amount of $60,000 was the need to find a suitable facility in which the school could be started. Current land prices and building costs are such that a significant amount of capital would be required if we wanted to buy land and build our own school. But would we find suitable facilities? The same week that we started to push doors we found a local university in Addis Ababa that had a block of classrooms they were looking to rent. Built in the last couple of years but never used, and with green space that could be developed as a play area, we again found God leading us through doors beyond our expectation.
Unfortunately, as so often happens when on a journey with God, we found several challenges facing us in early 2013. The first challenge came with the news that the university were no longer able to rent to us. After the initial shock, we began to look for other property we could rent and were able to narrow our choice down to several houses. However, before signing a lease agreement Andy again enquired at the Investment Agency to ensure there were no ‘surprises’ as we moved forward. Along came the second challenge. We discovered that the Ethiopian Law regarding foreign investment had changed and the minimum capital investment had been changed from $60,000 to a minimum of $150,000.
In February 2013, we therefore decided to postpone starting the school for one year. Though disheartened, we also knew that God’s timing is perfect.
The journey from that decision in 2013 until August 2014 presented many challenges. By the end of that summer we had raised all the required capital through the generous support of many. So we again began to look for a suitable facility in which to start RICE. That turned out to be quite a hurdle. We found one suitably large building towards the western edge of Addis Ababa but the owner was unable to complete the required paperwork despite several months of effort. Another house was found but at the last minute the owner decided not to rent. Then finally in May 2014 we found an old villa house on 1000 square metres of land. Though rather tired looking the house provided everything that we needed to start a school; classroom space, toilets and several play areas. We signed the lease in June 2014. Then began two solid months of hard work turning the house into a school.
By the middle of August 2014 we not only completed the building, but also received our Ministry of Education license and finally the much anticipated business license. We were ready to go. Though perhaps considered as backwards by many, we had already started to advertise and register new families despite not having a building to show parents. God was gracious and we began to have parents registering their children for RICE. Quite a faith step on their part too!
So having been established in August 2014 with 33 children, we have steadily grown so that in the 2020/21 school year we will have more than 420 children across Grades Year 1 (Preparatory) to Year 10 (Grade 9).
February, 2017 will remain a key milestone for RICE. This was when we became a registered Cambridge International School, able to formerly offer the Cambridge Primary and Cambridge Secondary 1 programmes.
2020 will also be remembered by everyone around the world, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like many schools, we moved to an online Home Learning format. Though simple, we are learning from this experience and continue to explore ways how to improve learning at home.