Introduction from UNICEF Ethiopia

Tiye Feyisa has been an education officer at UNICEF Ethiopia since 2008. He currently works in close partnership with the Ministry of Education in areas of quality education and gender equality, which is one of the major focus areas in the current government’s sector development plan. Below Tiye shares Jirattu’s uplifting story with us. For a girl coming from a poor, rural background to go on to study engineering at university is no mean feat! I’m sure the co-workers from IKEA Taiwan will come across similarly inspirational girls and boys during their upcoming IWitness visit.

Tiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia listens to Dame Meskele, School Principal, at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEFTiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia listens to Dame Meskele, School Principal, at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF
Tiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia listens to Dame Meskele, School Principal, at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEFTiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia listens to Dame Meskele, School Principal, at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF

Jirattu Hundesa, 21, is a third year engineering student at Wollega University in Ethiopia. She received an IKEA Foundation-financed scholarship while she was attending primary and secondary school in Benishagul-Gumuz Regional State, because she lived a long distance from school and her family lacked capacity to pay for her education. She appreciated the infrastructural, material, guidance and counselling and financial support extended to her while she was in her primary and secondary education. She looks forward to helping girls in rural areas who face similar challenges to succeed in their education, once she graduates.

There are still many girls, like Jirattu, who live in rural remote areas of Ethiopia and who are in need of support. Many girls aspire to join today’s world of knowledge and work through acquiring a quality education.

Pupils attend a class at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF
Pupils attend a class at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF

In Ethiopia, access to quality education is one of the priorities of the government. Since it launched the Education and Training Policy in 1994/95, primary enrolment has risen six-fold to 18.1 million in 2013/14 (Education Management Information System (EMIS) Ministry of Education, 2012/13). During the same period, the net enrolment rate has grown from less than 20% to 92.6%. In addition, more than 80% of new schools built are in the rural areas, where school attendance has traditionally been low.

Despite these achievements, access to education is not yet equitably available as schools have historically been located in urban areas. Female students, children with disabilities, and those from poor families and in remote rural areas  lack access to quality education.

Children in Somali, Afar, Benshangul-Gumuz and Gambella (Developing Regional States) have a lower net enrolment rate and gross enrolment rate than the national average. UNICEF advocates for an alternative and practical approach to reaching children in the pastoralist and remote areas. An example of this is the Alternative Basic Education programme, which several donors support, including the IKEA Foundation.

Pupils attend a class at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF
Pupils attend a class at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF

Education is not just the content of the curriculum alone, but also the physical setting and social and emotional state in which learning takes place. In this respect, the influx of children to schools has not been accompanied by minimum acceptable standards. In many instances, children do not have access to basic services such as drinking water and sanitation facilities at school. Due to lack of access to a basic infrastructure and school supplies, many children are forced to learn under a tree.

In some cases this is due to emergencies, such as floods, which destroyed school supplies. The situation is even more acute for girls. As well as struggling with a poor quality school infrastructure, lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and travelling long distances to get to school, they also face high rates of gender-based violence. Alternative Basic Education Centres are a feasible strategy instituted by the Ministry of Education for the pastoralist and hard-to-reach areas. These have expanded into areas where such challenges are common, so that children can enjoy a safe and secure learning environment. The programme has made an average contribution of 4-5% coverage of the gross enrolment ratio in primary education.

A community supported school is in action outside Awash in Afar Region of Ethiopia 27 November 2013. © UNICEF
A community supported school is in action outside Awash in Afar Region of Ethiopia 27 November 2013. © UNICEF

The government has shown it recognises the challenges by launching the General Education Quality Improvement Programme (GEQIP).  The school improvement programme is one of the six pillars of the GEQIP and focuses on progressing the learning environment. It is now striving towards achieving its objectives with the generosity of partners such as the IKEA Foundation.

The government has shown it recognises the challenges by launching the General Education Quality Improvement Programme (GEQIP).  The school improvement programme is one of the six pillars of the GEQIP and focuses on progressing the learning environment. It is now striving towards achieving its objectives with the generosity of partners such as the IKEA Foundation.

Tiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia poses for photo with students at Oda Aniso Primary School in Oromia Region of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF Ethiopia
Tiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia poses for photo with students at Oda Aniso Primary School in Oromia Region of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF Ethiopia

IKEA Foundation’s key support to education in Ethiopia is outlined below:

  • Establishment of 139 Alternative Basic Education Centres benefiting over 16,000 children.
    Targeted provision of educational materials, scholarships and tutorial classes to 58,000 most economically disadvantaged girls in upper primary and lower secondary schools, including provision of over 68,000 solar lamps.

 

  •  Sanitation facilities with separate provisions for girls and boys in 40 schools.
    Furnishing 206 school cluster resource centres with classroom and teaching supplies, embracing 971 satellite schools.

 

  • Building capacity of 6,725 primary school key teachers, principals and cluster supervisors (30% of whom are women) on school cluster management, guidance and counselling, participatory planning, continuous assessment, and classroom management.

 

  • Institutionalisation of the school cluster approach/model for effective use of limited school resources and sharing of best experience among teachers to improve quality of education.
    Mainstreaming the principles of Child Friendly Schools in the General Education Quality Improvement Programme (GEQIP) under School Improvement (SIP) for progressively improving the good quality inclusive education at the primary level.

 

  • Conducting of a baseline and mid-term evaluation of the Assessment for Learning Pilot Programme in Amhara and Addis Ababa Regions have provided evidence to scale up the innovative approach of quality improvement at national level. Currently all 11 regions have planned to implement the pilot programme.

 

  • A series of advocacy and social mobilisation activities for go-to-school and back-to-school campaigns.