Ethiopia has recently suffered from a two-year-long civil war that has caused thousands of deaths, millions of people becoming homeless, and countless people facing famine. In November 2022, the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) reached a peace agreement to declare an end to hostilities. Nevertheless, the civil war has left deep scars on the country, one of which is the impact on the education system.
Now, Ethiopia is facing an unprecedented education crisis. According to a 2022 UNICEF report, the number of out-of-school children in Ethiopia has soared from 3.1 million to 3.6 million in just six months, making it become one of the biggest education crises in the world.
The war has resulted in the severe destruction of schools. The United Nations (U.N.) estimates that the war completely or partially destroyed 9,382 schools across Ethiopia, as of August 2022. The state of educational facilities in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions is even worse, with many schools needing provisions such as furniture to continue operations.
The COVID-19 Outbreak
The global pandemic has produced a significant impact on the education and future prospects of children in Ethiopia. Within the three years since the COVID-19 outbreak, about 2.3 million children could not attend school because the pandemic was causing significant economic losses to the already impoverished country. More than 22,500 teachers in Tigray did not get salaries for up to two years, and this resulted in difficult financial situations for them and their families. Unfortunately, such circumstances make come in the way of how well teachers can focus on educating children and providing them with the support and guidance they need.
The most severe drought in more than 40 years has affected 24.1 million people in Ethiopia, including 12.6 million children, according to Education Cannot Wait (ECW). In the Somalia area, there are 1 million people who have to leave their homes to find food and water due to drought. The harsh living conditions leave parents unable to make plans about how to send their children to school. According to the U.N., 20 million people in the country need food assistance. The drought has brought about challenging economic and social pressures to the whole country, causing hardships and poor living conditions.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Since 2017, ECW has provided $55 million to assist the education crisis in Ethiopia, along with the Ethiopian government, UNHCR, UNICEF and Save the Children Fund. This education fund is helping Ethiopia build schools by offering school facilities and meals. Moreover, the program also provides psychosocial support to children who suffer psychological setbacks under multiple crises, including war, pandemic and drought. Through the construction of gender clubs, environmental clubs and remedial education, the fund has enabled more than 250,000 vulnerable girls and boys in Ethiopia to receive comprehensive educational support in the past three years.
Since the inception of the program, the enrollment rates in some schools have quadrupled. In addition, the U.N. is continuing its efforts and hopes to boost the response to drought through a new $5 million grant that will provide more extensive aid in Ethiopia and support more people to overcome the natural disaster.
ECW, in collaboration with the Ethiopian government and other organizations, has made significant strides in addressing the crisis by providing financial assistance, building schools and offering support to vulnerable children. Enrollment rates have seen remarkable improvement, and the U.N.’s commitment to providing additional aid demonstrates a continued effort to overcome the challenges and ensure access to education for Ethiopia’s children.
ECW promises to persist in its support for the education crisis in Ethiopia and plans to renew the multi-year program in 2023. Currently, the program is calling for significant funding from public and private donors to expand its aid model in a way that enables every child in Ethiopia to have access to quality education.
– Mingjun Hou