Category: "Education"

Ethiopia’s progress in education: A rapid and equitable expansion of access

September 16th, 2010

Ethiopia’s progress in education: A rapid and equitable expansion of access

Key messages

1. Access to education in Ethiopia has improved significantly. Approximately 3 million pupils were in primary school in 1994/95. By 2008/09, primary enrollment had risen to 15.5 million – an increase of over 500%.

2. Progress has been enabled through a sustained government-led effort to reduce poverty and expand the public education system equitably. This has been backed by substantial increases in national education expenditure and aid to the sector, as well as improved planning and implementation capacity at all levels.

3. Increased regional and local autonomy and community participation have also had a key role in expanding access to education across the country.


Since Ethiopia emerged from 16 years of civil war in 1991, access to education has improved significantly. Approximately 3 million pupils were in primary school in 1994/95; by 2008/09, primary enrollment had risen to 15.5 million – an increase of over 500%.1 Secondary school enrollment also grew more than fivefold during this period.

Benefiting from sustained growth, the Ethiopian government, in partnership with donors, has invested heavily in improving access to education. Key measures have included abolishing school fees, increasing expenditure on school construction and maintenance and hiring and training thousands of new teachers, administrators and officials. This has been complemented by a shift to mother tongue instruction and by the gradual decentralisation of the education system to progressively lower administrative levels. This has likely contributed to improved service delivery.

Ethiopia’s progress in education demonstrates that a sustained government-led effort to reduce poverty and expand the public education system equitably, backed by sufficient resources and improved service delivery, can dramatically increase school enrollment.

What has been achieved?

Ethiopia has seen unprecedented expansion of its education system. In 1992, around four of five primary school-age children were out of school. In 1999, this figure stood at over 60%. Now, it is only one in five (Figure 1). Education outcomes have improved rapidly in all regions, although the two predominantly pastoral regions, Afar and Somali, remain far behind the rest of the country, with net enrollment ratios of 24.4% 31.6%, respectively.

Improvements in access to education have helped narrow the gender gap and have benefited the poorest. Traditionally, boys were more likely to attend school and less likely to drop out: in 1994/95, boys’ gross enrollment ratio (GER) was more than 50% higher than girls’ (31.7% and 20.4%, respectively). Since then, a number of initiatives have been implemented: encouraging women’s employment in the civil service, promoting gender-sensitive teaching methods and increasing the minimum marriage age to 18. In 2008/09, almost full gender parity was achieved: the GER was 90.7% for girls and 96.7% for boys.3 Moreover, the rate of education poverty is declining at a faster rate for the poorest quintiles.

Low levels of education quality remain one of the most significant challenges in improving learning outcomes. Even so, compared with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have abolished school fees and experienced rapid increases in enrollment, Ethiopia has been more successful at rapidly hiring and deploying additional teachers. Considering the number of students entering the system, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the decline in quality would likely have been significantly worse had it not been for strong demand- and supply-side efforts by donors and the government.

Progress in education in Ethiopia has coincided with substantial reductions in poverty and improvements in food security, health and nutrition. Most notably, the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), the government’s flagship social protection and food security programme, has provided assistance to more than 7 million people since 2005.5 The percentage of children classified as stunted and underweight – although still disconcertingly high – has declined in recent years.6 However, there are still substantial inequalities limiting access to education, with almost 40% of the bottom quintile expected never to enroll in school

What has driven change?
Sustained government commitment

Government priorities in education – increasing enrollment and access in rural areas (with a goal of achieving universal primary enrollment by 2015), gender equality and curriculum reform – have been grounded in efforts to improve economic and human development outcomes.
Commitment to improving the education system has been matched by substantial increases in the education budget. Public spending on education, which during the 1980s remained under 10% of total spending, had increased to 23.6% of total expenditure by 2008/09 (Table 1). This constitutes 5.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), one of the highest rates on the continent.

The government’s prioritisation of education has translated into a number of policies aimed at increasing access to schooling for all Ethiopians, and particularly marginalised groups such as girls, the rural poor and pastoral communities:

• School fee abolition for primary and lower secondary schools;

• Supply-side measures such as school construction and teacher hiring and training, especially in rural areas;

• Alternative basic education for out-of-school children in remote areas and adult literacy programmes;

• School feeding programmes.

Increased autonomy of regional and local government
The gradual and ongoing devolution of power to the regions was initiated in 1991 as a means of giving more autonomy to Ethiopian ethnic groups. Central to this was the substantial flexibility regions received in determining the language of instruction and the curriculum content. A recent assessment of the outcomes of this shift found that the mother tongue policy was ‘one of the best on the continent.’9 Decentralisation has also entailed a gradual devolution of responsibility for service delivery

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Ethiopia Bans Distance Education, Cracks Down on Private Universities

August 31st, 2010

Ethiopia Bans Distance Education, Cracks Down on Private Universities

Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa

VOA News

Ethiopia has banned off-campus education, and ordered private universities to close degree programs in law and education.

A directive issued by Ethiopia's Education Ministry describes distance learning at off-campus sites as "unnecessary at this stage" and orders all such operations to stop enrolling new students immediately. The proclamation also prohibits private universities from accepting new applicants in teaching or law degree programs.

The ruling will affect 64 private institutions, most of which have sprung up in the past 15 years as the government opened higher education to the private sector. The distance education ban also includes Ethiopia's 23 public universities.

Educators estimate there are roughly 75,000 students currently enrolled in distance education programs, about one-third in undergraduate programs and the rest in technical and vocational training. The rules allow them to complete their course work.

Education Ministry spokesman Abera Abate Abebe says the directive was issued in the interest of maintaining education standards. He says several private institutions were more interested in profit making than in providing quality education.

"When the purpose is collecting money, it is not a good purpose," said Abera. "The only issue some universities have is collecting money."

The directive has drawn outrage from private educators.

Wondwosen Tamrat founded St. Mary's College in Addis Ababa 11 years ago with 37 students. Today St. Mary's has 7,000 undergraduate students on its main campus and more than 10,000 others enrolled in a nationwide distance learning program. He says the directive is a crushing blow to institutions like St. Mary's.

"To begin with, two-thirds of the students are in the distance education division," said Wondwosen. "If you are not offering this program, it would mean we would be losing what we have been working for the last 11 years. We have 140 distance education centers all around the country. We have people in all of these centers. We would be losing these."

Wondwosen says closing distance education, plus the loss of the teaching and law faculties, will force the layoff of more than 800 of the university's 1,200 employees.

He acknowledges there are disreputable private Ethiopian universities that grant degrees to anyone who pays the tuition. But he says St. Mary's students, who pay the equivalent of about $1,000 for a three-year course of study, have been driving national standards in some areas.

He says the new directive will undo all the good the government did 15 years ago when it overturned a ban on private education that had been in effect during the rule of the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam.

"They are spoiling what they have already done," added Wondwosen. "All this access the public is having through an expanded public system or a newly created private system has been the making of the government. I do not see any reason why government decides to go back on its own practice and tell us it is no longer possible to do these things."

Education Ministry spokesman Abera says the directive will be strictly enforced. But he suggests the rules could be eased once institutions issuing worthless degrees are forced to close.

"It may be a short period of time," explained Abera. "It is not for a long, it is not the end. Maybe [when] education is going straight on a track that is quality."

Wondwosen says the growth of private universities in Ethiopia has contributed to a five-fold increase in the country's gross higher education enrollment ratio. A decade ago, one percent of Ethiopians went to college, as compared to an Africa-wide average of six percent. The latest survey indicates the figure for Ethiopia has risen to 5.1 percent.

Ethiopia sets $589 million for ten more universities

August 10th, 2010

Ethiopia sets $589 million for ten more universities

Source: Capital

Ethiopia's Ministry of Education (MoE) slotted eight billion birr ($589 million) for the construction of ten new universities in the country, Addis Ababa based Capital says.

The plan will raise the number of universities in the country to 32 from the current 22.

The universities will be constructed in every corner of the country, including, Addis Ababa, Borena Oromia Regional State, Gonder, Debretabor and Woldia in Amhara Regional State, Assosa in Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, and Wolkite in Southern Nations nationalities and People’s Regional State.

Furthermore, Ambo College will undergo a refurbishment with a huge capital to a level of a university.

Abera Abate Public Relations Head with MoE said that the ministry has already secured plots for the construction of the universities in January this year.
“Depending on construction material accessibility and other issues, we plan to complete the construction within three to four years,” Abera told Capital.

From these ten new governmental universities one is solely dedicated to science and technology.

The university which is going to be constructed in Addis Ababa aims to boost the country’s research facilities in technological advances.

The university is currently under construction in Akaki-Kality Sub city with the money allocated by the Federal government.

“This university will not be under the Addis Ababa University’s administration, but will be administered like Adama University on its own,” added the public relations head.
“It will solely target application-oriented programs, and undertake research, emphasizing those of an applied nature which are relevant to industrial, commercial needs of the country,” he said

Dubbed a model university, Adama University, is managed by foreigners, and mainly focuses on training students on engineering, technology and applied sciences by giving them 70 percent of the space of its services.

Currently, the government has reached a 59:41 percent ratio in its natural and social science classifications respectively and plans to make the ratio 70:30 percent, natural science taking the larger share of 70 percent.

The new universities are to follow the strategy set by the government in the next five years.

Ethiopia - Gondar University is to launch six undergraduate programs

August 3rd, 2010

Ethiopia - Gondar University is to launch six undergraduate programs

Source: ENA

Ethiopia's Gondar University is to launch six undergraduate programs in the coming academic year. The new fields of studies include Heritage Conservation, Population, Civics and Ethics, Social Work, Gender and Development and Ethiopian languages studies.

Speaking at a workshop to familiarize the programs held in the university social science and humanity faculty dean Balew Baye said Heritage Conservation and Population programs have not been given in other universities.

The dean said heritage conservation program would help address shortage of professionals in the sector.

He said Population program would also be very important to produces capable human resource to balance the population growth the country’s economic growth.

University administration vice president Solomon Abirha on his part said the university is also undertaking various problem oriented research activities.

Scholars from Addis Ababa and Bahir dar universities and representatives from pertinent offices attended the workshop.

Ethiopia - Prime Minister of Canada Announces $20 Million for Building Capacity in Africa

July 7th, 2010

Ethiopia - Prime Minister of Canada Announces $20 Million for Building Capacity in Africa


During a special visit to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) tied to the centre’s Global Outreach activities, the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper announced new federal funding of $20 CDN million to speed the growth of science and technology capacity in Africa by developing the talent of its brightest young minds.

This high impact investment leverages Perimeter Institute’s expertise to build upon the success of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, South Africa. Canada’s lead investment will help support the establishment of a network of five AIMS centres across Africa by 2015. Year over year, the centres will graduate African scientists with the skills needed to tackle development challenges and seize opportunities for innovation and growth. In the longer term, The AIMS Next Einstein Initiative seeks to create a network of 15 AIMS centres by 2020, graduating 750 scientists and technologists per annum.

PI As Catalyst

Canada’s Perimeter Institute is a unique public-private partnership institution that supports both world-class research at the frontiers of science, and outreach initiatives of international scope. PI’s new Global Outreach program aims to promote emerging centres of excellence in math and science internationally, especially in the developing world. PI does not fund other organizations, but assists them by sharing best practices in developing, establishing and operating centres of excellence. In doing so, PI is pleased to work with the Canadian government and its agencies to ensure that Canada is best able to leverage its expertise as a knowledge nation, in the pursuit of its international development goals.

High Impact, Lasting Value

In a special announcement involving Dr. Stephen Hawking, PI Distinguished Research Chair as well as patron of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the Prime Minister of Canada announced the new federal funding as a central element of a partnership between Universities, the private sector and African governments focused on establishing the AIMS network, including new centres in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Senegal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper commended AIMS’ revolutionary approach and said, “History shows that our world becomes safer, healthier and more stable through advances made in science and technology. Humanity’s ascent from ignorance and barbarism to enlightenment and equality has been a fitful and uneven process. If there is, however, a universal constant in human affairs, it is that the expansion of knowledge and technology has continuously made life better for more people. That’s why our government is supporting scientific and technological research, as well as development at home and abroad.”

PI Director Dr. Neil Turok, who is also the founder of AIMS, thanked the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada for accelerating the growth of scientific centres of excellence in Africa. He said, “We are honoured today to be working with the government of Canada in support of its efforts to build a better, safer world in which health, freedom, peace and solvency – rights which characterise life in Canada - are shared by all. With today’s announcement of major support for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Canada is also pioneering the sharing of knowledge and expertise as a route to development. Just as ideas and innovation are the foundation of Canada’s new economy, they will be the basis of Africa’s future economic, educational, scientific and governance self-sufficiency.”

Professor Hawking visited South Africa in May 2008 to help announce the Next Einstein Initiative that would see the growth of AIMS into a pan-African network of centres. Upon meeting Prime Minister Harper and learning of this new, federal support, Prof. Hawking said, “I was lucky to visit AIMS in South Africa, in 2008, to enjoy the remarkable atmosphere, filled with the students' enthusiasm for math, science and the future of Africa. Science is a powerful unifier of people from all countries and cultures. I believe that connecting Africans to each other and to the world through science is one of the best investments one can make in Africa’s future.”

In commenting on these announcements, Mike Lazaridis, Perimeter Institute’s founder and Board Chair said, “I am very gratified that Perimeter Institute is not only advancing scientific research, training and outreach here in Canada, but is now viewed as a model of excellence throughout the world. We will do all we can to share our expertise with other centres and we welcome all partners who believe in our vision to harness the process and power of science for peace, progress and prosperity.”

About AIMS-NEI and PI Global Outreach

For more information about the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and the Next Einstein Initiative, see and For more information about Perimeter Institute’s Global Outreach activities, please contact Suzanne Corbeil, PI Director of Global Outreach, at

About Perimeter Institute

Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is an independent, non-profit, scientific research and educational outreach organization where international scientists cluster to push the limits of our understanding of physical laws and develop new ideas about the very essence of space, time, matter and information. The centre provides a multi-disciplinary environment to foster scientific collaboration in research areas of cosmology, particle physics, quantum foundations, quantum gravity, quantum information, superstring theory, and related disciplines. PI also provides a wide array of award-winning outreach programs for students, teachers and the general public across Canada in order to share the joy of research, discovery and innovation. In partnership with the Governments of Ontario and Canada, PI continues to be a successful example of private and public collaboration in science research and education.