In September 2012, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI.) Operating under the principle that access to education is the number one factor for promoting global development, the Initiative strives to represent the 250 million children worldwide who struggle with some form of illiteracy. The initiative fights for three priorities: placing every child in school, improving the quality of learning and fostering global citizenship.

A key component of achieving these initiatives is appointing “Champion Countries” to spearhead global education.  And, on January 29, the GEFI welcomed its newest Champion Country: Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s progress in promoting education is tremendous.  In 1994, roughly three million children were enrolled in primary school throughout the country.  By 2009, that number had risen to an astounding 15.5 million.  And, as of 2011, 87 percent of children were enrolled in school.

Crucial to the impressive strides made for education is the nation’s financial investment in schooling.  Over the past decade, the Ethiopian government has doubled the allotted funds for education in the budget while allowing for more local control over school administration.  This combination of financial stability and autonomy has also increased educational opportunities for young girls.  As of 2009, 90 percent of school-age girls were enrolled in school.

“The movement to get more children into school is unstoppable,” says Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. “Now our big challenge is to give those children the best teaching possible.”  With governmental support of education at an all time high in Ethiopia, incentives for teaching are increasing.  Although there are still roadblocks to hurdle, Ethiopia’s role as a Champion Country ensures education will continue to be a priority for the nation.

Taylor Diamond

Sources: ONE, Global Education First
Photo: nationsencyclopedia