By Abeje Getahun
Tigrai Onlne - August 15, 2014
The recent good news revealed that the current gross admission for higher learning institutions both private and public institutions have reached over 500,000.
That is higher than the higher education gross admission target set by the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). According to the GTP, gross admission for higher learning institutions was expected to reach just 467,000 in 2015! The government achieved more than the target ahead of schedule.
Indeed, the commitment of the government of Ethiopia towards access to education has been attested on several occasions.
For example; the government allocated over 24 billion Birr to these efforts for this fiscal year, of which 21.9 billion Birr will go to higher learning institutions with the aim of increasing access to education and improving its quality. The budget allocated for this year exceeds from that of last year by 4.5 billion Birr.
To evaluate the scale of the commitment and the progress made, we need to understand the poor state of the sector only two decades ago. The number of students in higher institutions was extremely low denying the youth the opportunity and the nation its growth potential.
When we take a look at the educational curriculum that had been in use in our country until the recent past, we observe that it was crammed with subjects that would not help in making any significant contribution to the overall development of youth and has not taken into consideration the country's objective socio-economic conditions.
At present, however, and deduction and training program and curriculum that could temper problems have been worked out and are put under implementation.
The international report, entitled "Growth with Depth: 2014 African Transformation Report" stated recently that Ethiopia launched an educational and skill development system to implement the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan for 2011–15. Then, the report underlined that:
emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Indonesia, etc. had put skill building at the core of their transformation agendas. Therefore, sub- Saharan countries need to do the same if they are to ignite and sustain their economic transformations.
Ethiopia and Rwanda are doing just that, putting their efforts and their resources into raising education performance. They have also identified the strategic economic areas where they have potential comparative advantages, and they are rapidly building the skills critical to turning that potential into real competitive market advantages.
The scholars reached this conclusion and commended Ethiopia based on several objective yardsticks that are also found in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
The Ethiopian Government had placed education at the center of all development endeavors, in alignment with the national economic growth trajectory.
Ethiopia mapped out its education sector plan, starting with the Education and Training Policy in 1994 and this evolved through a series of four comprehensive Education Sector Development Programs, of which the latest, ESDP 4, is currently being implemented.
The compounded problems inherited from previous regimes was
As the articulated in a 2002 policy document, entitled "The Education and Training Policy and Its Implementation":
During both the initial phase and it’s the more planned and coordinated expansion of modern education after 1941, the primary objective of education in our country had been to produce trained manpower that could run the emergent government bureaucracy. Particularly after 1941, the government’s main concern was to replace expatriates that worked at various levels in public offices by Ethiopian nationals. Hence, the narrow and limited scale of formal education that existed, beyond incubating bureaucratic clerks, had hardly any substantial merit.
After a certain grade level, the ambition of the student population was largely to secure government employment. Limited vocational education was introduced both at high school and college levels during the 1950s and 1960s. The education of the time nonetheless did little to change trainees’ outlook or help them break the cycle of dependency on the government for employment and develop a capacity to create their own jobs in the private sector.
Moreover, it can be safely said that in all these long years, there was never as such a clear policy by which to evaluate and accordingly shape the direction of education and training in Ethiopia. In fact, what existed was a mismatch of eclectically combined directives extracted from a host of unrelated experiences but to simply patch up in isolation the individual symptoms of the deep-seated malaise of the system that periodically surfaced. Hence, as a result of the lack of clear and coherent direction and other problems related with the very social order, the majority of the people of Ethiopia were not beneficiaries of the advantages of modern education. It has now been eight years since the transitional government, recognizing this fundamental problem, launched and began to implement the 1994 new education and training policy.
Since a policy statement never spells out all the elements factored in its formulation, but only indicates the salient strategic directions and objectives couched in the concept-laden language of short phrases, it is difficult to grasp its basic rationale. The 1994 education and training policy statement is no exception to this general truth. In fact, the inadequacy of all previous work done to raise public awareness of the education policy has compounded the problem. As a result, numerous accurate and inaccurate statements regarding the policy are heard from time to time
Nonetheless, the 1994 Education and Training Policy of the Federal Democratic Republic Government of Ethiopia articulated the objectives of the objectives of Education and Training as follows:
By investing increasing resources, Ethiopia has succeeded in raising the number of schools from about 11,000 to over 36,000, the number of classrooms from about 72,000 to 400,000 and teachers to over 412,000 from just 10,5000. The system is now highly focused on science and technology, research and employability to speed up the national development drive detailed in the Five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
In basic education, Ethiopia’s sector plan seeks a balance between providing access to the approximately 3 million children who remain out of school and improving quality for the more than 15.8 million children enrolled in the 8-year primary cycle.
In 2011, the government of Ethiopia allocated 27% of its overall budget to education ranking it among the few countries in the world dedicating at least 6% of GNP to education.
Ethiopia’s General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP). GEQIP focuses on improving learning outcomes through a set of complementary activities focusing on teachers, textbooks and other learning materials.
Ethiopia’s education sector has a well-established and well regarded dialogue structure under the auspices of the Development Assistance Group (DAG). The Local Education Group—the Education Technical Working Group—is co-chaired by the Ministry of Education and a lead donor on a rotational basis, and meets on monthly basis.
The rate of primary school completion in Ethiopia has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2010.
The number of girls enrolled in first grade compared to boys has decreased, with a gender parity index declining from 0.93 in 2009 to 0.90 in 2010. The rate of out-of-school children increased slightly from 2009 to 2010, from 17% to 18%.
Out of the children who complete primary school, 79% (2009) continue to secondary school.
The country has made good progress on its literacy rate, with 55% of youth aged 15 to 24 literate in 2007, compared to 45% in 2005.
Ethiopia has hired many new primary school teachers over the past few years: there were 23,437 new teachers in 2010, and 16,156 new teachers in 2011.
The primary net enrolment has more than doubled in the last decade, from just 40 per cent in 2000-2001 to 86 per cent last year. During the same period the gross enrolment rate for primary grades 1-8 grew to 95.4 per cent from about 57.4 per cent.
The completion rate of grade eight students increased from 48% in 2009/10 to 49% in 2010/11.
Literacy rates have risen since 2004 from 38% to 47%. There is a parallel drive to expand vocational training and tertiary education to provide students with skills needed by the economy.
At the tertiary level, thirty one universities staffed with 27,000 thousand instructors are serving half a million university students, while another 500,000 youth are now entering technical and vocational education.
The student population in Ethiopia stands at about 22 million, which is close to a quarter of the whole populace.
These achievements have been commended by several renowned personalities:
UK's Mr. Williams described Ethiopia’s commitment to a transformational education system as “exemplary”.
Similarly, the CEO of the Global Partnership for Education, Ms. Alice Albright, noted the gains made in Ethiopia’s education sector on the basis of pro-poor and participatory government policies, paving the way for community ownership of all projects.