The importance of role models

Most successful people will tell you that having a role model was a big part of their success. We all like to have someone to look up to, someone that inspires us and drives us on to be the best we can. The same applies to children; whether they’re from a bustling city in the UK or from a remote community in rural Ethiopia.

A case in point is Bilal Hussein, a 14 year old boy currently enjoying an education in one of the Imagine1Day & Costa Foundation schools recently funded in Ethiopia. The following words are from Bilal and truly do emphasize the importance of role models in the life of a young child.

“When I was very young my dad taught me an old saying – “Youngsters will always follow an Elders feet”. He also advised me to be a role model to my four younger siblings “They will follow your feet too if you lead and have success with your life” my father added.

I was scared at the thought of being their role model at first “What can I do to make them look up to me?” I asked myself.

But all became clear when I got my grade one first semester results, the same day that I became a hero reader at my school. I thought to myself “that’s how I’ll be a role model for my siblings; I’ll do really well at school and make all of my family proud of me”. You see; that day; my homeroom teacher was constantly praising my fellow student who stood 1st in my class for academic achievement. I was ranked 2nd in my class and it was when my teacher told me to view the first ranked student as my role model; it dawned on me. I can strive to be 1st and can help my brothers and sisters strive to do well in their studies at the same time. I will be a better person by trying to make them all better students. A real win win.

Continued Bilal, ”ever since that day, I started to study hard and I stood first for the following two years in a row my parents, my teachers and my fellow students have encouraged me- I always win the reading hero competition held in my school. Five students out of six in my network are now able to read after I became their role model and assisted them and they always tell me that they want to win the reading hero competition like I have.” 

With the support of his father and the school teachers, Bilal is now working to develop more role models in the school through the introduction of a “role model network”

 “I want to be an Engineer and learn to construct quality classrooms like those that have been constructed here- I want to build schools in remote areas where children lack access to education. I want to say thank you to imagine1day and the Costa Foundation for constructing these classrooms for us and for being role models to me” said a beaming Bilal.

And the really good news is that all four of Bilal’s younger siblings are so proud of his achievements that they all want to enroll at the school and follow in his footsteps.


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