News / Africa

Official: Education Investment Key To Eritrea Development

Semere Russom is Eritrea’s education minister Semere Russom is Eritrea’s education minister
Semere Russom is Eritrea’s education minister
Semere Russom is Eritrea’s education minister
Peter Clottey
This is Part Five of a five-part series on Eritrea Today
Continue to Parts:     1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Eritrea’s education minister says the country invests 45 percent of its annual budget on schooling as one of the main tools for human resource development. 
Semere Russom said Eritrea places emphasis on technical education as a means of producing the necessary manpower for the country’s development.
Eritrea’s educational system starts at pre-school, and continues through elementary, junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary levels.
Russom said the formal education system collapsed prior to independence due to over three decades of armed struggle to attain freedom.  Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia 21 years ago.
“Educational opportunities were disrupted, but after independence, our educational system was on track, and for the last 21 years it has been going on very well,” Russom said.
For over two decades, official records show, the government has increased the number of pre-primary schools from 91 to 476,  including 237 kindergartens and 239 community care giving centers. 

At the elementary level, the government says enrollment jumped from 160,000 in 1991-1992 to about 311,700 in 2010-2011.  Records show that over the same period,  middle school enrollment increased from 28,000 to more than 100,000, and the number of technical schools also increased from two to six.
Education minister Russom said the government has also established the Eritrea Institute of Technology and six other colleges in different parts of the country.
But the U.S. State Department notes that there remains a shortage of schools and teachers at all levels, and in rural areas girls often stop going to school at a young age, in order to work at home. The report also notes that though primary education to grade 7 is tuition-free, students are required to pay for uniforms, supplies and transportation, costs which are prohibitive for some families.

In addition, in order to graduate high school and qualify for higher education, all students are required to spend their final year at a military camp -- but the State Department report says many students drop out or attempt to leave the country after grade 11 to avoid going to the camp.

And State Department also reports that Eritrea restricted academic freedom, including sanctioning teachers for their writing, research, or curriculum.

In 1991, Russom said the new nation had to begin from scratch to build up the education system, including new curriculum.
He said the government recently initiated a reformed curriculum, which he said better equips Eritrean students to compete globally.
“Students who went through our educational system in the country have been going for further education in different parts of the world [including] South Africa, United States, [the Netherlands], universities in various countries in Europe," Russom said.

"All these students have not only coped with the educational systems of these different countries but [also] they proved that they are capable of carrying whatever is needed of them and they have been doing it very successfully,” Russom said.
He said the government supports sending some students abroad to further their studies, but mandates that upon completion of their programs they return home to participate in building the country.
“We are employing a sizable number of foreign expatriate teachers from international markets. But we have an exit mechanism, whereby students who are going abroad for their further studies come back to their country and then replace the expatriate teachers,” Russom said.
Some education expert groups have sharply criticized Eritrea’s “poor and substandard” educational system. They said the system falls below international standards and is not capable of equipping students to compete on the global stage.
But, education minister Russom disagrees with the assessment.
“I wonder on what their evaluation is based," he said. "What other proof is needed to attest that the educational system of the country is sound?   These students have been through our system and you found them capable of coping with the rest of the world’s higher education wherever they are going.”
He said the government realizes that education is a foundation for Eritrea’s development. He cited the government’ five-year strategic plan to help improve and transform the country’s educational system.
“In this plan,  all evaluations of the education system has been made and recommendations and future plans are set for action to be taken in the five years and further as well….Human resource development is a priority in the country, and we are working very hard [to emphasize] this issue,” Russom said.
Education minister Semere Russom tells Peter Clottey education investment is crucial
Education minister Semere Russom tells Peter Clottey education investment is cruciali
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs