Walal believes that education is the sole means of bringing about a positive change in any society. An educated student is a changed family and a changed family is a changed community. The partial scholarship program was started to assist bright poor students who have been accepted in state preparatory schools (grades 11 and 12), colleges and universities but lacked the financial means to pay for transport and to cover small but essential expenses. Many students have to forgo education opportunities due to lack of money for transport from home to the center that accepted them. The first students to be accepted were seven in number. This was back in 2003. After that the numbers rose to about forty five.
Students are accepted by a committee made up of Walal staff, community elders and representatives from schools and the zonal education bureau. The criteria include educational performance, character and economic status. The assistance given is the coverage of a two way bus ticket from home to their college annually and one hundred birr per month. This money is intended to cover small expenses such as local transport, photocopies etc. Although it is far from enough to cover the needs of the students, it makes life just a little bit easier and gives the students the feeling that somebody cares. That amounts to about ETB 2,000.00 (US$ 160.00) per student annually. This year, there are students studying in various universities such as Bahr Dar, Gonder, Mekele, Haromaya, Robe (Madda Walabu), Jimma and Nekemt in various departments such as law, medicine, education and others. So far, a total of eight assisted students have graduated. The first student to graduate (Ms. Roman Abdel-Qadir) worked for some years in Dembi Dollo and is now doing her Masters degree in Addis Ababa.
The program faces two main problems.
The first is that both the number of girls applying and the number of girls accepted are very low (about 15%). This is despite the encouragement given whereby the acceptance committee gives a 20% advantage to girls over boys i.e. a girl with an overall grade of 71 will be accepted before a boy with an overall grade of 90. Apart from a few cases most of the few accepted girls find it very difficult to compete in colleges and make it through. This is a result of the low status of girls in the Kellem society whereby a girl is not considered fit for higher education, has the burden of house chores, is the first to be removed from schools during difficult times and suffers abduction or early marriage. The second problem is financial. The costs of this program are covered through funding from humanitarian organizations and individuals who decide to sponsor a number of students. But the needs are enormous while the funds coming in are dwindling due to economic crisis and lack of information amid people who have the potential to assist.