The summer work program has been an emblem of the summer season in our country for more than two decades now. I was one of those who took part in trying to make an evergreen nation a couple of years ago. Seeing my younger brother waking up every morning excited to give some of his young energy to his environment and nation has made me remember my younger self. I had participated in the summer work program for three years when I was in high school. It was an opportunity that gave me physical, mental, and behavioral growth.
In 1994, the Government of Eritrea started the summer work program with the aim to restore the natural environment, and it has been earnestly working to make it a reality. The program was launched to ensure the participation of high school students and teachers in protecting the environment, creating an environment of cooperation as well as inculcating the culture of working hard among the students.
Many years back 30% of Eritrea’s land was a dense forest. However, war and other human-made disasters have destroyed the land, leaving only a mere 1% of the land covered in forest.
After schools are closed in June, every rainy season high school students are assigned to do a variety of tasks mainly aimed at protecting the environment from getting degraded. This year’s summer work started on July 7 nationwide and will last around five weeks until August 15. The summer work, which is conducted in 39 sub-zones, involves 24 thousand students, 42% of whom are girls. The summer work includes planting trees, constructing and renovating terraces and water diversion schemes, and renovating roads.
Based on my personal experience as a high school student, I believe the impact that the summer work makes on the minds and souls of young Eritreans is immense. One of the chief aims of the summer work program is to work for a better tomorrow and help create a rich and green nation, which is what the people and Government of Eritrea have been striving for.
Through the summer work program, young minds are learning a healthy morning habit and to accomplish extraordinary feats which help develop the nation as well as the students. In the past, high school students from different parts of the country would be assigned to work at the same site (which could not be practiced now due to Covid-19) and learn to collaborate, which allowed them to interact with one another and build relationships. Learning about their country’s landscapes and rich resources is also part of the program.
What is more, the fact that both boys and girls engage in the summer work at a young age helps avoid gender bias as both of them are treated equally and perform the same tasks. The confidence that Eritrean women and girls have can be partially explained by the way the summer work program and other similar community-based development programs are carried out.
The outcome of the hard work by high school students has shown not only a gradual restoration of the environment but has also taught the young good work ethic. As citizens, we should all work cooperatively to create a safe and better environment. Let’s all work to revive the forests and protect our environment. Relentless development through summer work!