Ethiopia is the second most populous nation in Africa, after Nigeria, and has the fastest growing economy in east Africa. The economic development has had an impact on poverty reduction. World Bank figures show that in 2010, 55.3% of Ethiopians lived in extreme poverty, this has now fallen to 30.8%.
During that time the rate primary school enrolment has quadrupled. However, while access to education has increased, pressure has been placed on teachers, schools, and the education system to improve learning outcomes and raise the quality of education. There are significant regional and gender disparities in basic educational proficiency and disabled children are less likely to attend primary school. Girls still experience significantly higher rates of education exclusion.
Bezu is a girl from a rural area inhabited by agricultural families. At 13, she escaped a planned abduction outside her school.
“When I was 13 I was finishing Grade 7. I didn’t know but a marriage had been arranged for me by my parents, to a man. In this area families will arrange a marriage for their daughter, without her knowing, and then agree that the man can abduct the girl. It’s cultural. It’s because a girl would otherwise be resistant. Once you’ve been abducted you’re his.
“The day of the abduction I was in school. While I was preparing to leave there were men waiting for me outside, ready to abduct me right in front of the school. They had paid a boy at the school 10 Birr (27p) to point me out to them. The Principal of the school heard about what was happening and found me and told me not to go out the front gate. He helped me escape out the back of the school.
Although Ethiopia has made much progress in ensuring all children get an education, girls and disabled children still face huge barriers, particularly those in the very remote areas. Menstrual health, early marriage and labour migration are the greatest barriers girls face in accessing an education.
Often, when menstruating girls do not attend school, as schools’ facilities are not adequately equipped for female hygiene needs and girls to not have access to sanitary items. The lack of hygiene facilities means girls lack privacy on a day-to-day basis. Bullying and harassment from teachers and boys can also be a problem, so girls choose to stay away.Many girls have very poor attendance at primary school,so they perform badly in their exams and are unable to progress to secondary school.
Early marriage is still a huge problem in parts of the country and prevents a lot of girls from going to school. Particularly with the poorest families, organising an early marriage is often done to ease the burden on household expenses as the girl then becomes the husband’s responsibility. In 2017, 14% of girls were married by age 15 and 40% married before 18 (UNICEF 2017). Many girls are expected to stay home or become pregnant at an earlier age, further restricting their access to education. In some cases, girls are forced into arranged marriages by their parents or abducted for child marriage.
Girls are often subjected to family pressures to not attend school. They are needed to help with domestic chores or work so they can contribute to household expenses.In search of opportunities, girls migrate to other countries. Labour migration leaves girls extremely vulnerable, exposing them to modern day slavery and exploitation. Human trafficking is a problem in Ethiopia and parents worry about the safety of their daughters when they’re travelling long distances to get to school or work, or when living away to attend school.
In addition to barriers of access girls face,the quality of education is poor.Teachers in remote schools often lack adequate practical experience or subject knowledge. Their teaching skills are below the level needed to apply the active teaching methods required by Ethiopia’s new curriculum or to truly engage the students. Schools are under-resourced, both in the equipment and books needed to teach effectively but also in basic facilities such as toilets.
At secondary level, the language of teaching switches to English which is problematic as many children do not speak the language and the teachers themselves have poor English.
This project is part of the Department for International Development’s (UKAID) Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) programme. GEC is helping up to a million of the world’s poorest girls improve their lives through quality education and in finding better ways of getting girls in school.
The project is addressing barriers girls face in accessing education and supporting the training and development of teachers and teaching methods to improve the overall quality of education.
This project is currently in its second phase and the emphasis is on preparing girls to transition through the education system, increasing the duration that they are in school. We will support 16,481 girls in 77 schools in the regions of Amhara and Oromia.
Organisation for Child Development and Transformation (CHADET) works to improve the lives of marginalised children in Ethiopia by providing access to quality education and improving livelihood opportunities. It aims to create access to basic services to the most vulnerable children in both the rural and urban areas of Ethiopia. To achieve this it works in the areas of education, child safeguarding, improvement of livelihood and research. CHADET was formed in 1995 and with over 20 years of experience, it has established itself as a well-respected, authoritative organisation among communities, partners, donor organisations and the government.
The Department for International Development (UKAID) is our donor and this project is part of the Girls’ Education Challenge, the largest worldwide project so far to address helping the world’s poorest girls get an education.
We are training and mentoring teachers to improve their teaching techniques and help them understand how to tailor lessons to the needs of girls at different stages of their education. We are developing high quality teaching resources, especially for higher levels of education, and creating resource centres for students. Girls with disabilities are helped with equipment to aid mobility and learning and the project aims to create more positive learning environments and attitudes towards disabled students in their schools. All these developments improve girls’ motivation and commitment to attending school.
We are undertaking a number of activities that directly support girls through their transition from primary to secondary education. We are supporting them to prepare for national exams and meeting additional costs, such as accommodation, travel expenses or fees. Sexual and reproductive health education will prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies. The project is supporting girls to identify and challenge the things that are causing them to drop out of school, to raise these issues with the boys in their schools and to work together to create positive change in their communities.
We are also supporting the girls with life skills that will enable them to more confidently embark on secondary education. For girls that do not want to continue education, we are working to improve their employability through vocational skills. Life skills training, such as developing self-confidence, critical thinking and collaboration is helping girls to have the confidence to speak up and challenge inequality.
GEC seeks to improve learning outcomes for marginalised girls, including through the introduction of new gender-sensitive teaching methodologies in schools. Regular lesson observation is conducted in each of the project schools by fellow teachers and feedback on progress in adopting the new teaching methodologies is discussed in communities of practice (COP). The COP were introduced by ChildHope and CHADET to provide a safe space for peer-led discussion and guidance and appear as an example of a professional learning community within the latest GEC ‘Lessons from the Field’ newsletter.
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