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A recent study conducted by the Addis Ababa Education Bureau shows that grade one students who go through well designed and well-monitored preschool programs perform better than children who do not.
The bureau conducted a comparative study involving first graders that have come up through preschools supported by School Readiness Initiative (SRI), a Non-Government Organization currently working in collaboration with the government in 52 public schools with over 10, 400 children.
The results of the survey, as reported by the bureau during a conference of stakeholders in late August 2015, showed that the mean scores of Amharic, English, Mathematics and Environmental Science tests were 83.8, 76.0, 78.5, and 77.8 respectively for first grade students from intervention schools. The scores for the same tests of the children from control schools were 67.2, 63.4, 66.3 and 65 respectively for the subjects stated above, in that order.
According to Hailu Dinka, a researcher from Addis Ababa’s Education Bureau, the differences between the mean scores of the two groups were statistically significant. The study also showed that principals and teachers in the intervention schools had significantly higher satisfaction based on the improvements in teachers’ knowledge and skills through trainings, provision of basics materials required for preschool training and parental participation.
Similarly, parents of children who went to intervention schools were more satisfied that parents of children going to control schools, with their children’s progress, with their relationship with their children’s teachers and with the knowledge and skills imparted to them regarding overall child development and child education.
Mulualem Tefera, Early Childhood Education expert in Addis Ababa Education Bureau told Capital, “We did the survey in order to determine the impact of SRI. The rapid survey found that the children were prepared well before joining grade 1 perform better than children who don’t have such preparation. We also found a much better teacher and parent satisfaction as well as a much better parental engagement in school activities among the intervention schools than in non-intervention schools.’’
At present there are over a thousand kindergartens in Addis Ababa. Of these, the government runs 197, while rest are privately owned. The government-owned preschools charge much lower fees, and in effort to reach all children, the government provides free attendance for children coming from the poorest homes.
The United Nations has recently urged nations to focus on early child education. The recent 10th annual summit of the ruling party-Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)- held in Mekelle also stressed that more work was needed to solve a large problem in the country, the quality of primary education.
Mulualem Tefera said “The education bureau has found that this intervention is improving the quality of education and we encourage SRI and other partners to increase engagements with the bureau to address the needs of thousands of children in the city who are not yet receiving proper preschool programs.”
Dr. Menelik Desta, Executive director of SRI said, “Investing in children is investing in the future. We have shown good results in Addis and what we plan to do is expand this to other regions by mobilizing educational bureaus, the business community and NGOs.’’