In 1999, less than half of the school-aged children in Ethiopia were attending primary school. In 2010, the number increased to 87 percent. As a result, literacy rates have also increased.

How did education in Ethiopia grow so rapidly?

Access to Free Education

Government-led efforts, including building schools in rural areas and abolishing extra fees, have expanded access to free education in Ethiopia. Between 2000 and 2010, the education sector expenditure and aid increased by 25 percent. Participation rates have also increased to 86 percent. The rapid growth in the number of students and schools presents additional challenges including the purchase of academic materials, getting students to the appropriate literacy levels and updating the curriculum.

Local Autonomy

Education in Ethiopia is supported by local leaders and community members. Regional and local leaders have more autonomy over education in their respective areas, creating an environment more conducive to community participation.

The Next Step: Training and Retaining Teachers

Now that Ethiopia has made strides in increasing access to education and involving the community, the country needs to focus on recruiting, training, deploying and retaining qualified teachers. Teachers need to be able to instruct in the mother-language and their training must equip them to meet the needs of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. While incentives can draw teachers to remote and rural areas that have the greatest need, they can also help retain teachers.

Global Education First Education Initiative

In January, Ethiopia joined the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Education (GEFE) Initiative, which recognizes the prime minister’s commitment to education in Ethiopia. Ethiopia joined the group of Champion Countries, which serve to catalyze political and financial support for education as well as advocate for GEFE. As a Champion Country, Ethiopia will work to rally other countries, particularly in Africa, towards overcoming the challenges created by education expansion.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: All Africa, Global Education First, Voice of America
Photo: Nazret