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
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid