Ministry of Education in Ethiopia launches Awareness Campaign on Back to School

Campaign aims to enroll nearly 3 million children out of school by 2015

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Student facilitator and 7th grade student Senait Berhane (3rd from right) is pictured with 4 and 5-year olds in Atsbi district, Tigray region, Ethiopia. After learning letters and numbers during Berhane’s summer break, the five children are now ready to enter school thanks to a UNICEF-supported Child-to-Child Programme (©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Negash)

16 September 2013: The Ministry of Education of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopiatoday launched a massive nationwide awareness campaign on going back to school and called on parents, communities and local leaders to bring their children to school.

The awareness campaign, which is being kick-started this week, as schools open across the country, is a drive that seeks to increase awareness of parents on the importance of education and support Ethiopia to meet its Millennium Development Goals on universal access.

“Over the last two decades Ethiopia’s Gross Enrollment Rate has soared, government has allocated a huge budget and admirable results have been achieved,” said His Excellency Ato Shiferaw Shugutie the Federal Minister of Education “Communities have owned education activities and increased the numbers of children coming to school, this campaign is a push to ensure that no child is left behind.”

Ethiopia has steadily increased the number of children in school in the last two decades from as low as 2 million in the 1990’s to over 22 million in 2012, trebling its Gross Enrollment Rates from as low as 32 per cent in 1990s to 95 in 2012. With the current Net Enrollment Rate of 86 %, Ethiopia is on track to meet MDG 2.

Mama’s tune- young children get ready for formal school through music

However, current data from the just completed Study on the Situation of Out of School Children in Ethiopia shows that 3 million children remain out of school, while enrollment rates reveal marked regional disparities with regions like Afar recording enrollments as low as 32%. Key barriers in the way of the country’s drive towards access to universal primary education include costs around schooling, lack of basic facilities and quality education. These are often compounded by negative and harmful traditional practices, like early marriage and the preference for boys over girls, which put education out of reach for many girls.

The media campaign seeks to mobilize communities, national leaders and international development partners to bring and keep Ethiopia’s children in school.

“Education remains the engine to drive Ethiopia’s long-term economic development prospects and it is clear that against all odd parents across this vast nation know this and are committed to bringing their children to school,” said Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia ” However, if we are to build healthier families, a better economy and a prosperous Ethiopia, families should educate more girls to a higher level.”

Ethiopia Reduces Mortality Among Children Under Five By Two-Thirds Since 1990

According to latest UN estimates, MDG4 Target Achieved 3 Years Ahead of Time

Ethiopian Minister of health Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu (second from left) holds up the sign declaring Ethiopia has met the Millennium Development Goal 4, reducing under 5 morality by two thirds, at a press conference in Addis Ababa on Friday. Angela Spilsbury of DFID (1st from left); Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia (3rd from left); and Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia look on (Photo- ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose) 

Addis Ababa, 13 September 2013 – The Ministry of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and UNICEF announced today that Ethiopia has reduced its under-five mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2012- the required reduction for meeting the target of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) on child survival. In 1990, the under 5 mortality rate was one of the highest in the world at 204/1,000 live births; by 2012, this rate had been slashed to 68/1,000 live births.

The announcement follows the release of the latest global and country data from the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) and the annual report of the Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Initiative, co-chaired by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States. Globally, the annual number of deaths among children under 5 fell, from an estimated 12.6 million in 1990, to 6.6 million in 2012. Over the past 22 years, the world saved around ninety million children’s lives that may otherwise have been lost. Ethiopia has made a significant contribution to this success- each year around 235,000 more children survive to their fifth birthday than was the case 20 years ago in the country.

This achievement was driven by political commitment, advances in science and technology, and improvements in health, nutrition and family planning services, particularly in the rural areas. Indeed, Ethiopia has, in many ways, been at the forefront when it comes to ensuring basic services for women and children in the country.  In particular, by bringing basic health services to the doorstep of the rural population, the Health Extension Programme has made a significant contribution. Since 2003, more than 38,000 Government salaried Health Extension Workers, the majority of them young women, have been deployed to over 15,000 health posts right across the country.  “Achieving ambitious targets in the social sectors has been a central pillar of the Government’s Growth and Transformation Plan,” said Dr Kesetebirhan Admasu, the Federal Minister of Health. “It is now clear that the key policy choices that we made in the health sector were the right ones.”

The announcement also carries broader significance since Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa and plays a critical leadership role on the continent through its current chairmanship of the African Union and its role in many other regional political and development fora. It also comes at a time when UNICEF and other development partners around the world are focused on accelerating progress in the final 1000 days until the MDG deadline. “In many ways the progress made in the health sector in Ethiopia has become a  powerful global symbol of what can be achieved in resource-constrained environments, and has given many international partners renewed faith in the enterprise of development,” said Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia. “Ethiopia has become the child survival benchmark for other countries, implicitly challenging them to do more for their own children.”