ADDIS ABABA-(ENA) Ministry of Education has set the maximum number of students in a classroom to 25 and one student per desk in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the upcoming Ethiopian academic year.
Education State Minister, Million Mathiwos told ENA that schools will be opened in the 2020/2021 Ethiopian academic year by limiting the number of students in a classroom and strictly adhering to COVID-19 prevention guidelines set by Ministry of Health.
The old practice of placing up to 70 students in some classroom will not continue, he added.
According to him, the World Health Organization and UNICEF have been recommending countries to reopen schools as closure of schools for long would bring devastating socioeconomic impact on the generation.
Declining interest of students on education, early marriage and harassment on children have also been increasing in Ethiopia after the closure of schools in April, 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, Million pointed out.
"So, as delaying the opening of schools has negative impact on the overall growth of children and the generation, opening schools with great care to prevent the spread of the virus is crucial. We are, therefore, working on ways of reopening schools," the state minister elaborated.
The ministry had dispatched a group that surveys the overall conditions of the pandemic in all regions, it was learned.
Ministry of Education will officially announce the dates when schools are going to start based on the recommendations made by the study group, Million revealed.
However, all schools will not be opened simultaneously because the impact of the pandemic in the specific localities will be taken into consideration.
Introducing double-shift system, constructing more classes, and using other institutions as temporary schools are some of the measures that will be taken to tackle the shortage of classrooms in the academic year, he explained.
The state minister disclosed that Oromia Regional States has set example in this respect by constructing 30,000 new classrooms in the last three months alone.
Million further stated that the new modality set by the ministry, in collaboration with Ministry of Health, applies to all private schools in the country.
Private schools have to register students in accordance with their capacity and taking the standard into consideration, he said.
Ethiopia has some 42,000 schools, 700,000 teachers, and more than 26 million students.