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The Ministry of Education (MoE) launched a nationwide awareness campaign in support of Ethiopia to meet its Millennium Development Goal on Universal Access to Education.
The campaign, launched on Monday September 16th at the Radisson Blu Hotel, calls on parents, communities and local leaders to send their children to school.
“Over the last two decades Ethiopia’s Gross Enrolment Rate has soared; the government has allocated a huge budget and admirable results have been achieved. Communities have owned education activities and increased the number of children going to school. This campaign is a push to ensure that no child is left behind,” said Shiferaw Shigute, Minister of Education.
The awareness campaign, which is being kick-started this week as schools open across the country, is a drive that seeks to increase the awareness of parents on the importance of education and support.
Even though the quality of education students have received and continue to receive has been debatable, Ethiopia has steadily increased the number of children in school over the last two decades from as low as 2 million in the 1990’s to over 22 million in 2012, tripling its Gross Enrolment Rates from as low as 32 percent in the 1990s to 95 percent in 2012. With the current Net Enrolment Rate of 86 percent, Ethiopia is on track to meet MDG 2.
Current data from the just-completed study on the ‘Situation of Out of School Children in Ethiopia’, however, shows that 3 million children remain out of school, while enrolment rates reveal marked regional disparities, with regions like Afar recording enrolments as low as 32 percent.
Issues that were stated as challenges regarding the country’s drive towards access to universal primary education include costs surrounding schooling, a lack of basic facilities and quality education, often compounded by negative and harmful traditional practices like early marriage and the preference for boys over girls, which puts education out of reach for many girls.
“Education remains the engine to drive Ethiopia’s long-term economic development prospects and it is clear that against all odds parents across this vast nation know this and are committed to sending their children to school. However, if we are to build healthier families, a better economy and a prosperous Ethiopia, families should educate more girls to a higher level,”” said Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia.
The media campaign seeks to mobilise communities, national leaders and international development partners in order to try and bring 3 million children back to school.