Eritrea came into independence in 1993 after a long period of war and military conflict. After gaining its independence, Eritrea continued to struggle with neighboring countries Yemen and Ethiopia, and the consequences were devastating to its people. Today, the country continues to work on rebuilding its infrastructure and developing its economy. Despite the many structures the country has implemented, education still remains a top concern. Below is an exploration of education in Eritrea.
Top 6 Facts about Education in Eritrea
1. Enrollment remains one of Eritrea’s biggest issues. In 2012, data put forth by the World Bank determined that only 42 percent of elementary school-aged children were enrolled in school.
2. Eritrea’s location in the Horn of Africa is a major contributor to the country’s low enrollment rates. Eritrea is extremely susceptible to droughts, as well as floods caused by heavy and sudden rainfall, which makes attending school—and maintaining school grounds—increasingly difficult.
3. Vast disparities in development in Eritrea’s zobas, or regions, is also a significant factor that plays into the low school enrollment rates. Remote regions such as Gash Barka and the Southern Red Sea simply lack schools altogether, so children then lack any access to education opportunities in those regions.
4. Remote regions in Eritrea are also inhabited by nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists, for whom attending formal schools that are located at far distances is not impossible, but is in fact undesirable. Families in nomadic communities simply cannot—or don’t—send their children to school.
5. The country is working hard to address the issue of education for nomadic communities. With support from donors and the Netherlands government, 65 nomadic schools have been set up in Eritrea, a vast increase from the seven pilot nomadic schools that existed in 2007.
6. Gender disparity in education remains a top concern within the country’s education system. Though the government claims to be committed to achieving education equality, more than half of school-aged girls are not receiving an education.
Eritrea, ranked 177th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index, struggles with severe poverty and countless other obstacles that make improving education conditions for children extremely difficult. The country’s unique climate and nomadic communities, coupled with its new independence and lofty regrowth plans, require tailored education initiatives and ample help from foreign aid programs. These programs will help the country improve its education opportunities, and therefore its economy and quality of life as well.
– Elizabeth Nutt