Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Quality improvement needed to keep high enrolment rates

Recently Ethiopia has experienced massive improvement in access to education. There are now 14 million children in school compared to five million in 2000. But according to the Ethiopian Development Institute, Save the Children and Young Lives, the quality of education the children are getting is still a burning issue. Even though increased primary school enrolment creates opportunity, accessing quality education remains a significant problem for disadvantaged children. 
The findings of the Young Lives School Survey first result indicates that if educational quality is not adequately addressed; the enrolment of children in school that has shown an impressive progress in the last decade might reverse trends and spiral downward.
“If parents begin to thinking the education their children are getting will not result in the improvement of their economic status, they will simply stop sending their children to school because they will believe it is a waste of time,” stated Tamiru Zeryhun, Head of the National Learning Assessment Unit of the Ministry of Education.
Teacher’s characteristics, particularly their qualifications, subject knowledge and motivation for teaching, are predictive of the nature and quality of student’s classroom experience, the study argues.
Some papers presented at a workshop held on Friday May 25, 2012 at Siyonat Hotel suggested students sometimes don’t excel in school because of  community attitudes towards education especially girls, teacher’s low expectations towards their students and text books that are so large they cannot finish them.
In order to address the challenges of quality education the Ethiopian government has recently devised two plans- the Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP) and the General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP). The GEQIP in particular focuses on improving quality and access of education in order to reduce the current drop-out rate and to improve completion and progress to secondary schooling. The program works by increasing the quality educational materials such as textbooks and working to develop the skills of teachers. 
“There are some flaws in the system, the focus has been getting children into schools only, there wasn’t much concern about what happens after that,” said Alula Pankhurst, Country Director of Young Lives.
Young Lives has been following 12,000 children in four countries-Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam for 15 years. Young Lives started collecting household and community data in 2002 at selected areas in Ethiopia. The study follows 3,000 children. The broad analytic aim of the study is to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of child poverty.