Category: "Education"

Ethiopia: U.S. Provides 5.5 million English Language Textbooks for Elementary School Children

December 5th, 2012
Three of the 5.5 million English language textbooks, developed and published with USAID assistance, for students in grades 2, 3 and 4 in more than 28,000 Ethiopian schools nationwide. (photo: Robert Sauers/USAID)

Ethiopia: U.S. Provides 5.5 million English Language Textbooks for Elementary School Children

Press Release

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
– USAID Ethiopia Mission Director, Dennis Weller, presented to Ethiopia’s State Minister of Education, Fuad Ibrahim, 5.5 million English language text books for primary school children in grades 2, 3, and 4 at a handover ceremony on November 29 at the Ministry of Education. USAID’s Textbooks and Learning Materials Program (TLMP) developed the textbooks in cooperation with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education. USAID printed the large amount of textbooks in order to allow every child in grades 2, 3 and 4 to have access to the learning material. Previously, USAID has developed, printed, and donated English textbooks for other primary school grades.

“These books will serve to improve the English language skills of students in grades 2 to 4 in over 28,000 Ethiopian schools nationwide, in support of the Ministry of Education’s General Education Quality Improvement Program,” said Mission Director Dennis Weller.

Ethiopian State Minister for General Education H.E. Fuad Ibrahim (left), USAID Ethiopia Mission Director Dennis Weller (center), and Ato Solomon Shiferaw of the Ministry of Education discuss newly published English language textbooks donated by USAID for students in grades 2, 3 and 4 at some 28,000 Ethiopian schools nationwide. A handover ceremony at the Ministry of Education marked the delivery of 5.5 million books. (photo: Robert Sauers/USAID)

Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University collaborated on textbook design, development, and production with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. The English textbooks are fully aligned with Ethiopia’s national curricula, culturally relevant to the Ethiopian context, and incorporate everyday themes, such as gender sensitivity and equity, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, and community responsibility.

“This partnership between the government and people of Ethiopia and the government and people of the United States to improve basic education started when USAID first came to Ethiopia 50 years ago, during which time the U.S. government has contributed to increasing access to primary schools, especially for children in hard to reach areas and girls, improving the quality of education, building the capacity of teachers, strengthening partnerships between the school and community, and enabling females to complete secondary and higher education,” said USAID Mission Director Dennis Weller.

The symbolic presentation ceremony was held at the Ministry of Education, in Addis Ababa, and was presided over by State Minister Fuad Ibrahim and attended by Regional Education Bureau heads along with officials from the Ministry of Education and USAID Ethiopia. The book donation is valued at almost 6 million US Dollars.

Ethiopia children hack tablets in 5 months with zero instruction

November 1st, 2012
Self-taught: Children in Ethiopia are learning to use tablets distributed by OLPC.
Photos courtesy of Matt Keller

Ethiopia children 'master tablet PCs'

BBC Today

American researchers from the organisation Global Advocacy, One Laptop Per Child have mounted an experiment in two small Ethiopian villages to see the effect of new technology on children in remote regions of the developing world.
Helped by the Ethiopian government, they gave out tablet PCs, programmed in English and without any instructions, to every child between four and eleven years old in their target areas.
Early findings, they say, are astonishing and appear to suggest that tablets may do more for some children's education than schools or teachers. Global Advocacy's Matt Keller explained the thinking behind the experiment to the Today programme's Mike Thomson.

Listen to the Story from BBC Radio 4


Self-taught: Children in Ethiopia are learning to use tablets distributed by OLPC.
Photos courtesy of Matt Keller

Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction

What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.

The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell "neighborhood" properly and whatnot isn't a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn't going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.

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"We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He'd never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android."

Photos courtesy of Matt Keller

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves

October 29th, 2012
Self-taught: Children in Ethiopia are learning to use tablets distributed by OLPC.
Photos courtesy of Matt Keller

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves

With 100 million first-grade-aged children worldwide having no access to schooling, the One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages—simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens.

The goal: to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs.

Early observations are encouraging, said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC’s founder, at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference last week.

Read more from MIT Technology Review

Ethiopia Set to Achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015

February 9th, 2012

Ethiopia Set to Achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015

Phillip Walter Wellman | Addis Ababa

VOA News

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 28,000, 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.

Two Indian publishers win $5.9 mn contract to publish textbooks for Ethiopia

January 4th, 2012
File Photo: Ethiopian Students

Two Indian publishers win $5.9 mn contract to publish textbooks for Ethiopia

Two Indian publishers have beaten off stiff international competition to win Ethiopian government contracts worth $5.9 million to print and distribute textbooks on six subjects, as also teachers' guides, a trend that has been consistent over the past three years.

Repro Printers and Pitambra Books were among 19 international printing companies that responded to an education ministry tender four months ago to print textbooks in six disciplines -- mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, civics, and ethics.

All bidders passed the technical evaluation stage, which included assessing the capacity of the printers and their ability to supply the books with the specified cover page and weight of the paper. Eventually, only the two companies from India were selected for the order for five million textbooks.

Established in 1984, the Mumbai-based Repro Printers recorded revenues of $47.1 million last year. Pitambra Books, established in 2001, is based in Jhansi town in Uttar Pradesh and earned $18 million last year.

The lucrative business of printing school textbooks began in 2009 after the Ethiopian government decided to outsource this to foreign printers due to what education authorities claimed was a lack of capacity among domestic printers.

After securing a grant that could reach as high as $1 billion, the first phase of printing 700,000 copies of four textbooks at a cost of $322.8 million was awarded to Britain's Pearson Education Ltd and India's Star Educational Books.

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