Education in Ethiopia

Education in Ethiopia has been dominated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for many centuries until secular education was adopted in the early 1900s. Prior to 1974, Ethiopia had an estimated illiteracy rate well above 90% and compared poorly with the rest of Africa in the provision of schools and universities. After 1974 revolution, emphasis was placed on increasing literacy in rural areas. Practical subjects were stressed, as was the teaching of socialism. Recently, there has been massive expansion throughout the educational system. Access to primary is limited to urban locations and they are mostly owned by the private sector and Faith Based organizations. Primary school education consists of two cycles from grades 1 to 4 and grades 5 to 8. Secondary schools have two cycles from grades 9 to 10 and grades 11 to 12. Primary schools have over 90% of 7 year olds enrolled although only about half complete the two cycles. This situation varies from one region to the other and it is even worst in agro-pastoral locations, such as Somali and Afar regions, as well as in the growing regions such as Gambella and Benshangul Gumz. A much smaller proportion of children attend secondary school and even fewer attend the second cycle. School attendance is lowest in rural areas due to lack of provision and alternative occupations. The school curriculum in later years covers more subjects at a higher level than curricula in most other countries. Low pay and undervaluation of teachers contributes to poor quality teaching. This is exacerbated by large class sizes and poor resources resulting on poor performance on national assessments.

There is evidence of corruption including forgery of certificates. Many primary schools have introduced mother-tongue teaching but there have been difficulties where small minority languages are concerned. English medium instruction remains a problem throughout the later years of education. Girls' access to education has been improved but early marriage decreases their attendance. Girls' educational attainment is adversely affected by gender stereotypes, violence, lack of sanitary facilities and the consequences of sexual activity. Jimma University is addressing some problems women experience in higher education. TVETs have introduced competence based assessments although many lack adequate resources. Teacher training has been up-graded. All higher education has been expanding but this has not been accompanied by sufficient expansion in staffing and resources. There have been difficulties in introducing BPR with poorly paid university staff supplementing their incomes where possible. Universities need to match training to market demands. All colleges and universities suffer from the same disadvantages as schools. Library facilities are poor, classes are large and there is lack of equipment.

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