As education is instrumental in bringing behavioural change and playing a decisive role in fostering economic, social and political development at various levels, the need to scaling up the and equipping citizens with lifelong knowledge and skills is a means to make change.
Hence, investing on education is not only helping meet the short and long-term trained manpower demand but also enables people and the nation to intensify the overall growth of the county.
To this end, the government has taken various education strategies and devised a number of mechanisms to rectify the problems and implement the new education policy.
Recently, this writer had a field trip to the Northern part of the country. Taking this advantage, he approached the Amhara State Education Bureau Deputy Head Tefera Feyissa for comment. He also interviewed the Ministry of Education (MoE) Communication Affairs Directorate Director Desalegn Samuael about the education achievements in connection with ensuring education accessibility and equity.
According to Tefera, over 4.5 million students are engaged in all primary, secondary and preparatory schools in 2005 E.C. academic year.
Primary and secondary school coverage has reached about 94 and 38 per cent respectively. Currently, about 100 primary, 30 secondary and preparatory schools are under construction in various woredas of the state.
He also said that the gender gap in primary schools is highly narrowed down and students' composition in primary level (1-8 grade levels) is now almost equal in the state. However, the gap in secondary and preparatory schools in the state has still faced a challenge. But, the bureau has worked hard to minimize this gap in high school and preparatory schools.
Tefera further said that although both education accessibility and coverage in the state have shown a great progress, ensuring quality education has not so far been as successful as the bureau's plan. Although ensuring quality education should not be left only to one party and other bodies working on the area, the bureau is doing its level best to focus on ensuring quality education as well as building education development army in 2005 E.C.
As to Tefera, currently,various zones in the state teach their children in their native languages. Education coverage and equity in both rural and urban has also greatly improved except in high schools and preparatory schools. Nowadays, every Amhara rural area has primary schools at 3k/m radius. He added that to produce educated and productive framer in the state, the bureau plans to provide alternative basic education for about two million adults in 20005 E.C
He further elucidated that taking advantage of the already put in place adult education programme, about 370 ,000 farmers have been involved in adults education in the state in 2004 E.C. The bureau also plans to teach about 2 million framers in 2005 E.C.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) Communication Affairs Directorate Director said that although Ethiopia has started modern education prior to many African countries, the progress it has shown is witnessed very sluggish. However, after the country underwent reform programme, the government has achieved successful results in ensuring education accessibility and equity in the country. Gender participation in primary schools is almost similar in most states.
Over 25 per cent of the total population, close to 22 million are the youth, is attending primary, secondary, preparatory and higher learning education. Of the 18 million students enrolled in primary schools including non formal education over 8.5 million are female, he added.
Desalegn further said that the nation's Primary and Secondary education coverage has raised over 95 and 37 per cent respectively in 2004 E.C. Except few remote areas of the country, every rural village has at least a primary school. He added that currently, the number of primary and secondary schools has reached about 31,000 and 1,800 respectively in the country. Besides, over 500 Technical,Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges are training the youth with various technical skills. Furthermore, 52 polytechnic institutions and 31 universities of which 25 of them were constructed in various parts of the country after the reform programme.
Desalegn further said that in 2005 E.C, about 116,000 students have joined higher learning institutions of which 35 per cent are female. Besides, about 200,000 student have joined preparatory school. According to Desalegn, primary education coverage gap among states has greatly narrowed except in Afar and Somali states. Although the coverage has reached about 75 and 65 per cent respectively, the government has facilitated mobile, temporary schools and various mechanisms to raise the coverage.
He further said that Ethiopia is well-positioned now to achieve Education for All by 2015. The government is working hard to reach 100 per cent coverage with the remaining three years.
The government has also capitalized on practice oriented adult education. The programme is planned to provide people with beyond simple arthritic,writing and reading skills. And the government has focused on providing practice oriented education with the view to producing educated, who are familiarize themselves with modern technology and productive farmers.
Although the government could register remarkable results on primary and secondary as well as tertiary levels, its implementation on practice oriented adult education is not as expected. However, currently, the government is working hard to enhance the latter.
The Amhara Education Bureau currently provides multifaceted teaching and learning process with 7,327 primary schools, 2001 alternative basic education stations which are being transformed into regular schools following their effort to come with quality education. About 300 government and private high schools and 10 teacher training colleges have contributed a lot to education accessibility and equity in the state.
However, the lack of education development army, quality education, educational inputs among others are some of the challenges facing the teaching and learning process in the state.
It is now more than 100 years since modern education was introduced in Ethiopia. At the time education focused mainly on giving communication skills and the rudiments that were necessary to run a modern bureaucracy. Later on, after the Second World War,efforts were made to give priority to education and many schools and higher learning institutions were operational.
The main purpose at this time was to produce teachers and administrators that serve the state machinery. Ethiopia has shown remarkable growth in the expansion of education at all levels. The gender and regional gaps in primary school enrolment rates have also narrowed down. Enrolment in secondary schools, universities and colleges has also significantly increased.