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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More