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On April 25, Save the Children launched the Pastoralist Afar Girls’ Education Support (PAGES) project, which aims to contribute to the improvement of the lives of 18,500 young girls in Afar through the attainment of their rights to education.
With Funding from the UK Department for International Development (DfID) amounting to £ 9 million, the three-year project will focus on primary education, both formal, meaning from grades 1 to 8, and informal, meaning alternative basic education levels of 1 to 3.
The aim of the project is to increase both access to education and retention within the schooling system for some of the most marginalized young girls in Ethiopia. The program will sponsor the development of Afar-language learning materials for primary education, community mobilization and increased community awareness of the importance of education for young girls. “The project provides an opportunity to address the unique challenges facing pastoralist girls in having access to primary education in the Afar region. Increasing access to quality and flexible education for girls in Afar represents the “Last Mile” as Ethiopia looks towards achieving universal primary education by 2015,” stated Ned Olney, Country Director for Save the Children.
The project will increase the coverage of alternative basic education centers, upgrade existing schools and improve the level of training of primary school teachers and alternative basic education facilitators.
According to the 2011/ 2012 Education Statistics Annual Abstract of the Federal Ministry of Education, the Net Enrolment Rate (NER) at primary level for the region is much lower than the national average. This shows the need to increase the participation of students in primary education in such regions.
It was stated that a large proportion of primary school-age girls are not attending school across the region. This predominantly pastoralist population is subjected to frequent drought and chronic food insecurity. The dispersed and mobile population, the long distances between settlements with limited services and the need for all family members to engage in household activities also means delivering quality education in this setting is one of the most challenging, but high-impact investments.
The project is expected to provide motivation to the region, which has already launched efforts to increase access through the provision of Alternative Basic Education Centers, including mobile education.