News / Africa

Ethiopia Set to Achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015

Ethiopian school children attend a class at a school in Addis Ababa (File Photo)
Ethiopian school children attend a class at a school in Addis Ababa (File Photo)

Multimedia

Audio
This is Part 6 of a 12-part series:  Education in Africa
Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /
6 / 7/ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12

 

Ethiopia, one of Africa's poorest countries, is among the few on track to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015.  Our correspondent in Addis Ababa, reports on how, according to analysts, an otherwise repressive government is winning praise for its campaign to bring learning to the people.

“I can say we made [an] education revolution in the history of this country," said Petros Woldegiorgis.

Education Ministry Spokesman Petros Woldegiorgis tells how Ethiopia, which had fewer than 2,000 primary schools 15 years ago now has 28,0000, and is on the verge of providing access to education for all of its 20 million school age children.

“We gave great priority for education," he said. "Why we are doing this is we know the value of education.  Therefore, the huge investment was made for [the] education sector by this government.”

Development aid experts say Ethiopia has devoted as much as one quarter of all public expenditures to schools during the past few years.  This commitment is prompting international donors to pump in an estimated $150 million a year to support the effort.

The World Bank's senior education specialist in Ethiopia, Rajendra Joshi, says the investment is beginning to pay off.

“If we look at the progress toward achieving universal primary education from 2003 to 2009-10, it increased by 40 percentage points, which is huge," said Joshi. "Ethiopia at the beginning of the '90s used to be one of the worst countries in terms of participation rate.  Now participation rate in primary education is 86 percent - grades one to eight.”

But getting children into classrooms is the easy part.  The challenge is bringing them up to basic literacy levels.  

The rapid growth in the number of schools has created a severe shortage of qualified teachers.  In most classrooms, there are no books.  Surveys indicate that many children leave school without learning to read.

The nearly $1 billion a year in U.S. aid to Ethiopia includes a five-year $100 million commitment for education.  USAID's chief education officer in Ethiopia, Allyson Wainer, says the plan is to bring reading skills to 15 million students.

"Currently the books don't exist, and the curriculum doesn't exist from a reading perspective, and that's what we'll be developing in the coming year," said Wainer. "And the government's taking it very seriously.  And we're taking it extremely seriously in that our goal is to contribute to the literacy rate and the learning of children in grades one, two and three, so they have the skills they need to be literate."

The program also aims to end the literacy gender gap.  Ethiopian girls traditionally have lagged far behind boys in school attendance and achievement.

Wainer says neighborhood schools should remove all obstacles to educating girls.

"Knowing that girls can safely get to school because the distances is not overwhelming, and that girls can access a safe school, hopefully a separate latrine facility for boys and girls, teachers who have been trained on the needs of girls, and girls were the ones who generally weren't going to school as well," she said.

In its quest to meet the goal of education for all, Ethiopia has also established mobile classrooms to travel with nomadic herders who roam the countryside in search of grazing land for their animals.

Education Ministry Spokesman Petros Woldegiorgis says being poor should not be a nation's excuse for failing to make education accessible to all of its citizens.  

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid