UNDSG’s – Jan Eliasson Calls for Action on sanitation at Ethiopian school

By Sacha Westerbeek

SEBETA DISTRICT, 1 February 2014 –  “Wash your hands before you eat; wash your hands after visiting the toilet; wash your body… clean your environment ….” The song in the Oromiffa language continues with further messages on hygiene.

When the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Mr Jan Eliasson walks toward the latrines at DimaPrimary School in Sebeta, Oromia Region, he is welcomed by students from the Hygiene and Sanitation club, singing proudly about personal and environmental hygiene.

Hayat Hachallu, is 13 years old and a member of the Dima Primary school Hygiene and Sanitation Club. This 7th grader is certainly not shy. She takes the DSG by the hand and shows him the school latrine, hand washing facilities and the water point.

“Here are the latrines for girls,” she explains to the special visitor, while opening the door carefully. “For us, girls, it is very important to have private facilities. A place where we feel safe and have the privacy we need. The toilets here are not great: they are too dark, the doors don’t close very well and it really smells badly,” she says. “Now, let me show you our newly built latrines,” and she pulls Mr. Eliasson away from the rickety iron sheet structure toward a stone construction.

Hayat Machala, 13, a member of Hygiene Club, explains the role of the club and one of the latrines to DSG Jan Eliasson
Hayat Machala, 13, a member of Hygiene Club, explains the role of the club and show one of latrines in school to Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, at Dima Guranda Primary School in Sebeta District in Oromia Region of Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

There are 30,634 primary schools in Ethiopia[1], of which 5,000 are directly supported by UNICEF.  Primary schools are encouraged to address key Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues such as installation of water supply, construction of gender-segregated toilets and hand-washing facilities.  Hayat and the other girls are benefiting from UNICEF funding for the newly built girls latrine.

“Look Mister look”, Hayat points proudly. “Look, here are our new toilets. They are much better don’t you think,” she asks cheekily.  Hayat clarifies that the school Hygiene and Sanitation activities are managed by the Environmental Protection and Sanitation Club which is composed of 105 students of which 57 are girls and 5 are teachers.

Mr Mesfin Tessema, the school director further elaborates: “The sanitation club is established to engage children in various hygiene and sanitation activities as part of learning and behavioural change.”

When Mr Jan Eliasson asks about the clubs activities, Hayat goes into detail: We are involved in the clearing and cleaning of the school compound; cleaning of the latrines; we encourage students to wash their hands after they use latrines; we conduct environmental sanitation campaigns in the school and within the community; and we have established relationships with the nearby Health Post for the promotion of hygiene activities. And we are also involved with the beautification and environmental protection of the school compound with tree planting.”

Children are agents of change

Hayat Machala, 13, a member of Hygiene Club, shows a newly built toilet for girls to DSG Jan Eliasson
Hayat Machala, 13, a member of Hygiene Club, shows a newly built toilet for girls to Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary- General of the United Nations, at Dima Guranda Primary School in Sebeta District in Oromia Region of Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

By focusing on school aged children and providing them with the necessary tools and knowledge to change behaviours at school and home, children play a crucial role in sharing information and knowledge with their parents and family members to achieve better health, environmental, sanitation and hygiene practices.

Ethiopia has been an active participant in the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. In 2013, the Ethiopian Government, with support from UNICEF, was able to establish a Sector-wide Approach termed the ONE WASH National Programme with a dedicated budget line for sanitation in the Government of Ethiopia’s treasury for sanitation.

Since 1990, the country has made substantial progress in improving access to water supply and sanitation coverage. However, millions of people still remain without access to safe water and sanitation services. In 2010, out of a population of over 80 million, about 46 million were without access to improved water supply and sanitation and Ethiopia had the highest number of people (38 million) practicing open defecation  among African countries.[2] The lack of access to adequate clean drinking water and sanitation services has a dramatic impact on the lives of people, especially women and girls, and undermines efforts to improve health, nutrition and education outcomes.

Although good progress is underway, still some challenges remain. Nationally, only around 31 per cent of school have water supply facilities in their premises and 33 per cent have improved latrine facilities. On average, the toilet/student ratio is 1:120.[3] In Oromia Region, where the Dima Primary School is situated, only 52 per cent of its total population has access to safe drinking water and the sanitation and hygiene coverage is also 52 per cent.[4]

It is up to ALL of us

The Deputy Secretary-General talks with the school children to hear about their experiences. While they explain the importance of the school club in educating the community on hygiene practices, and the challenges they are facing, the DSG appeals to each and every one of them. “It is up to ALL of us,” he underlines while speaking to the students and the bystanders. With passion and conviction he adds: “Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something”.

Hayat and her peers nod in agreement. Although they had never previously heard of the DSG’s Call to Action on Sanitation, they know the importance of sanitation. They know their individual and club efforts will bring change. They know its up to them to make their school and community a better place. In the end, this is also their call to action. 


[3] Source: WASH Inventory 2012

[4] Source: WASH Inventory 2011

UNDSG Jan Eliasson washes hands with ashes in Ethiopia

By Sacha Westerbeek

DSG Jan Eliasson wash his hands with ash with the help of Lemma Buchule
Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, washes his hands with ash with the help of Lemma Buchule at her home in Sebeta District in Oromia Region of Ethiopia,. ©UNICEF Ethioia/2014/Ose

HAROJILA FULASO, OROMIA REGION, 1 February 2014 – “The health extension worker told us to wash our hands with soap and if we don’t have soap, we can use ashes. So, when I have not been able to buy soap, this is what we use to disinfect our hands”.

Ms Shure Gore takes the can of ashes and hands it to United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Mr Jan Eliasson. He gently takes out some of the greyish substance and rubs it before rinsing it off with the water from the jerry can attached to the tree, next to the family’s’ latrine. “My hands are clean,” he exclaims while the family is observing his actions closely.

In Ethiopia’s Oromia region, the hygiene and environmental sanitation activities are the main focus for household and community level interventions. The woreda (district) latrine coverage is about 70 per cent. In Harojila Fulaso, however, 80 per cent of the households have reached the status of becoming a “model household.”

The model family is the approach adapted by the Health Extension Programme to improve household practices. After 96 hours of training and adopting 12 of the 16 packages, a family graduates to become a so-called model family. The health extension package is categorised under three major areas and one cross cutting area: namely Hygiene and environmental sanitation; family health services; disease prevention and control; and health education and communication.

The Lemma-Buchule family, in which Ms Shure Gore is the driving force, has a latrine with hand washing facilities and dry and liquid waste disposal pits. In addition, the household has adequate aeration and light and the animals are kept separate from the living area – to name a few requirements of becoming a model household.

The family lives a couple of minutes walk away from the health post. Ms Abebech Desalegn is one of the two health extension workers running the facility. The health post provides services to 736 households and 3,532 inhabitants – ensuring that health care is delivered at the doorstep. “I know Shure and her family very well,” says Ababech. “The family consists of 10 members, including eight children between the ages of 3 and 22 years old. They come here when they need vaccine, a new mosquito net or when they are ill.” She has assisted the household in reaching the status of “model household”. “They now inspire others to do just like them, they are an example to the community,” Ababech explains.

DSG visit to Ethiopia
Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, discusses the importance of hygiene to Lemma Buchule, right, and Abebech Desalegn, Health Extension Worker, at Buchule’s home in Sebeta District in Oromia Region of Ethiopia, 1 February, 2014. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

Health extension workers deliver health care at the doorstep

Ababech is a government salaried and trained health worker, under the Health Extension Programme, an innovative community based programme which started in 2003. To date, 38,000[1] health extension workers have been deployed in nearly all rural villages. The programme aims to create a healthy environment and healthy living by delivering essential health services to communities.

UNICEF supports the Health Extension Programme in different dimensions. Training of HEWs to improve their technical competencies in delivering health and nutrition services, procuring and distributing of vaccines, medicines and supplies, ensuring availability of job aids at health posts, have all led to increased coverage of health and nutrition services at community level.

In addition to prevention and health promotion services, health extension workers are also now involved in case management of pneumonia, diarrhoea and severe acute malnutrition in more than 90 percent of health posts.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Mr Jan Eliasson studies the charts on the wall of the small health post. “You are doing an excellent job here,” he says while impressed with the statistics and service delivery provided by this health extension post.

Abebech Desalegn, Health Extension Worker explaining her role in the community to  DSG Jan Eliasson
Abebech Desalegn, Health Extension Worker, explains her role in the community to Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General at Haro Jila Folaso Health Post in Sebeta District in Oromia Region of Ethiopia, ©UNICEF Ethioia/2014/Ose

Abebech explains that she is required to split her time between the health post and the community. Community outreach activities include working with model families, community groups or households. “Every day I’m very busy she continues. When I’m at the health post I provide basic services such as: immunisation; health education; antenatal care; family planning; delivery and postnatal care; growth monitoring and community treatment of severe acute malnutrition; diagnosis and treatment of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea; treatment of eye infections; treatment of selected skin problems; Vitamin A supplementation; first aid and referral of difficult cases… just to name a few of my daily activities.”

In addition, this young health worker, who has worked at this health post for the last seven years, has done thirty deliveries and many more postnatal checks. “I’m happy UNICEF provided delivery beds, but I also need clean water. Every single day I walk to the nearest water point, because I need clean water for the latrine and health interventions.”

WASH interventions at Health Post level

To date, UNICEF has provided a total of 160 health posts with a complete WASH package.  This includes: providing capacity in the design of WASH facilities, construction of water supply and sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion to health institutions through construction and disseminating information on hygiene and environmental sanitation. In addition, WASH interventions at the health post level include: the provision of a hand-washing stand; a septic tank; incinerator; placenta pits; general solid waste and sharp pits.

“I’m lucky having clean water nearby,” says Ababech. “But too many of my colleagues really struggle, especially those who work in remote and dry areas.”

Ethiopia has been an active participant in the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. In 2013, the Ethiopian Government, with support from UNICEF, was able to establish a Sector-wide Approach termed the ONE WASH National Programme with a dedicated budget line for sanitation in the Government of Ethiopia’s treasury.

Although good progress is underway in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene, still some challenges remain. In 2010, out of a population of over 80 million, about 46 million were without access to improved water supply and sanitation and Ethiopia had the highest number of people (38 million) practicing open defecation among African countries[2]. The lack of access to adequate clean drinking water and sanitation services has a dramatic impact on the lives of people, especially women and girls, and undermines efforts to improve health, nutrition and education outcomes.

Mr Jan Eliasson underlines the need for clean water and sanitation. “We really must act now. We have to talk about sanitation and improving access to toilets and clean water. We also must change attitudes and behaviours,” he emphasises with passion.

Ms Gore fully agrees. “Since I have a latrine and we wash our hands at critical times, I see less disease in my family. The children go to school and we work on the land – for this, we need to be healthy.”

In South Omo, Education- a gateway for children but a competition for parents

By Zerihun Sewunet

Students attend class at Alkatekach primary school

DAASANACH, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR), 18 December 2013 – Omorate village in South Omo Zone of the SNNPR is a semi-arid area where the Daasanach tribes live. Their houses are dome-shaped made from a frame of branches, covered with hides and patch works. These houses are scattered along the site where the Omo River delta enters Lake Turkana of Kenya. Most tribes in South Omo are pastoralists. In Omorate too, the people’s lives are bound to the fate of their herds of cattle, sheep and goats that they raise.

Children play a critical role in the pastoralist lifestyle. Boys as young as 6 years old start to herd their family’s sheep and goats, while girls marry very young so parents get additional livestock through dowry. Therefore, parents do not send their children to school. In the Daasanach tribe, education is considered as a luxury. For teachers of Alkatekach Primary School this is their biggest challenge. They use the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) system to cater for the need of the children. The Alternative Basic Education system responds to the urgent need for an education that suits the special needs and constraints of pastoral life. It provides flexible school hours, allowing pastoral children fulfil their household responsibilities of herding cattle to find water and pastures while still finding time for school.

Meseret Chanyalew, Director of the school, explains there is an increase in the number of children from last year because of the continuous effort to enroll and retain students. “We enroll students throughout the year to encourage children to come to school. We also discuss with the community to create awareness on education by going house to house to convince parents to send their children to school.”

Located five kilometers from Omorate town of Kuraz district, the Alkatekach Primary school has only 79 registered students for the 2013/2014 academic year and the highest grade these students can reach is fourth grade. This is because there are no classes set up above the fourth grade.

The Lucky ones in the family go to school

Temesgen Qoshme, 14,  attends a class in Alkatekach primary school14 years old Temesegen Koshme is a third grade student in Alkatekach Primary School. He is sitting in a class exercising the conversion formula for different measurements. His favorite subjects are mathematics and social science. Unlike Temesgen, children his age are taking care of family cattle or are married off. “I prefer coming to school than looking after my parents’ cattle. Alkatekach is where I grasp knowledge,” says Temesgen, “When I go to school in the morning my brother and sister look after the cattle. After school, I go straight to the field to take over”.

Temesgen’s parents told him that his younger sister is waiting to be married off, “I tried to explain that she has to come to school, but they did not listen to me” says Temesgen concerned about his sister’s future. Temesgen is one of the lucky ones to be enrolled this year. For him school is his happiest place.

Agure Amite, a father of twelve, living in Omorate village, sends two of his children to Alkatekach Primary School. When asked why the others do not go to school he says, “Some of them have to look after my cattle and others are not ready for school because they are below 10 years old.” Some parents in the Daasanach tribe send their children to school when they reach age 10. However, nationally children start school at age 7.

Alternative Basic Education (ABE) accommodates the pastoral children

Children, not students, play at Alkatekach Primary SchoolThe 2012 study on situation of out of school children in Ethiopia shows that SNNPR has 46.5% of out of school children making it the third highest region after Oromia (49.2%) and Amhara (48.7%).

With the support of UNICEF and the generous donation of US$240, 000 received from ING the Daasanach tribe now has ABE centers close to in their area. In addition to the construction of ABE centers, ING’s support also helped to provide furniture, training for ABE facilitators and education materials to pastoralist and economically disadvantaged children. For Meseret and her colleagues at the Alkatekach Primary School, this means increasing the schools capacity up to sixth grade means that children like Temesgen will be able to receive education within their community for the next two years.

Time to radically enhance learning outcomes for children

By: Dr. Jim Ackers, Regional Education Adviser for UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office 

Pupils study at a library donated and supported by Unicef at Tutis Primary School
Pupils study at a library donated and supported by UNICEF at Tutis Primary School in Oromia State of Ethiopia 26 November 2013. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines education as a basic right for children. Education is key to achieving the MDGs, as well as to the attainment of the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of every child. While governments in the developing world are doing their best to increase enrolment in primary education, there is still a long way to go when it comes to improving learning outcomes and the quality of education.

The 11th Education for All Global Monitoring Report, launched in Addis Ababa on the 29 January 2014, provides some alarming figures, which call for the attention of all stakeholders involved in the education sector. The report reveals that poor quality education is costing governments US$129 billion a year. It also indicates that in many of the sub-Saharan African countries, only “one in five of the poorest children reach the end of primary school having learnt the basics in reading and mathematics.”  If we are not able to address the problem of poor quality education, it will take another century for all girls from the ‘poorest families in sub-Saharan Africa to finish lower secondary school”. These findings are not acceptable at all.

If poor quality education is costing governments billions of dollars and if it is leaving millions of children behind, then what should be done?  The Education for All Global Monitoring Report findings explicitly indicate that it is important to provide teachers with adequate training. Moreover, making teaching quality a national priority yields positive results.  Countries such as Ethiopia, Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania for instance include improving quality and learning outcomes as an explicit priority alongside expanding access.

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

Countries need to expand their teachers force and put in place mechanisms in which incentives will be provided to retain the best performing teachers. Ensuring the equitable distribution of teachers within countries has been a major challenge for many years, although some examples of effective policies are emerging.  Poor children, especially girls in more remote areas, as well as children in informal urban settings are often the most affected by lack of access to competent teachers. These same children are the most likely to drop out of education according to evidence gathered by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute of Statistics through the global Out of School Children Study Initiative. Even if they do not drop out they are the most likely to have poor learning outcomes according to global surveys such and the findings of regional surveys such as those of the Southern African Consortium for Measuring Education Quality. The learning needs of children with disabilities and those affected by emergencies also need to be much better served.

Teachers are a key component of quality education. Others are access to quality teaching and learning materials, school management, quality assurance, assessment and the curriculum. The curriculum should be relevant to the learner and delivered through a familiar language in early primary school if children are to attain the foundational skills required for life long learning. School infrastructure is also important, not least the provision of separate latrines for girls and boys – a goal to which UNICEF is very committed in its holistic vision of Child Friendly Education.

Life-long learning and the development of core skills for employability are critical imperatives in the development of individuals and nations. Early Grade Reading Assessments in many countries have demonstrated that many children are fated to long term illiteracy because they have not developed and may never develop these foundational skills. More attention should therefore be given to early childhood development and the prioritisation of early primary in terms of resource allocation. We have done much together as partners to address enrolment issues, and more remains to be done here. However there is now a global consensus that education without learning is of limited value. We are now committed, alongside our partner to putting much more emphasis on innovative ways to enhance the learning of all children to help overcome the global learning crisis which disproportionately affects the poorest children.

UNICEF has education programmes and experts on the ground in 20 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.  We support governments, preferably within the framework of sector wide approaches, to enhance equity and quality in all these countries. We also work closely with other partners, including UN sister agencies, not least UNESCO, other multi-laterals, various donors, civil society and the private sector (including the Schools for Africa initiative).  The African Union and sub-regional bodies such as the EAC, IGAD and SADC are key partners. UNICEF is a very active member of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, for which we recently developed two key papers on Teacher Education.

Tiye Fayissa of Unicef Ethiopia poses for photo with students at Oda Aniso Primary School in Oromia Region of 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/2013/Ose

A key focus for UNICEF is now on helping government to ensure that policies and plans actually work and impact on realities in schools and children.  The development of national minimum standards for all children is a critical area where we have engaged, as is the enhancement of learning assessment, including membership of the global Learning Metrics Task Force and support for SACMEQ.  But setting standards is not enough in itself. Quality development is required. Addressing teacher education and management issues on the ground is critical in this regard.  UNICEF has supported teacher education in most of the countries in which we work in Eastern and Southern Africa.  Results based management means that we talk of inputs, outputs and outcomes. But what really counts in the classroom is the process of learning.  A committed and competent teacher is critical to this process. Sadly didactic teaching is the norm in many countries. This also helps explain the learning crisis.

Notable recent examples of UNICEF support to governments on teacher issues are: development of an in-service training system and programme in Tanzania; enhancing co-ordination and mentoring in the teacher education system in Uganda, support to the training for teachers who work in the Alternative Basic Education system in Ethiopia. Our work with the Global Partnership for Education has also reinforced our focus on teacher education in countries like Zimbabwe, Somalia and South Sudan for example. UNICEF is also committed to enhancing the evidence base on what works in teacher education. Examples of previous publications are given below[1].

UNICEF is committed to enhancing its contribution to enhanced teaching and learning through strengthening partnerships at all levels – sub-national, country, regional and global through supporting innovative, scalable approaches to promote learning, not least for the most marginalised child. We are committed to working more closely with partners to ensure that systemic bottlenecks that affect actual service delivery on the ground are addressed and that we actually meet children’s and teachers needs and improve learning through enhancing classroom environments and processes.

Teach a girl, enrich the world

By Erna Solberg and Hannah Godefa, Special to CNN

See original content on CNN

Editor’s note: Erna Solberg is prime minister of Norway and co-chair of the U.N. Secretary General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocates. Hannah Godefa is UNICEF National Ambassador for Ethiopia. The views expressed are their own. This is the latest in a series of articles ahead of a special GPS show from Davos this Sunday.

As the humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Syria and Central African Republic continue to unfold, girls are once again caught in the cross-fire. Murdered by soldiers, killed or sexually assaulted as they flee, their lives are being ravaged by wars they did not start. Once again, they are the victims of somebody else’s dispute, subjected to sexual violence by those hoping to achieve their military and political goals.

How much more are we willing to stand?

Currently 28.5 million children in conflict-affected countries are out of school, more than half of them are girls. It is not just their security, but their education and hope for a better life that are being ruined.

But these girls don’t need to be faceless, voiceless statistics. They can be victors, like Malala, who captivated us when she bravely stood up for her right to education, changing the way we think about young girls and their rights.

The key is investing in girls’ potential, something that can be a win-win for everyone – enabling female participation in local economies can accelerate the fight against poverty, inequity and gender disparity. When you educate a girl, you educate a nation.
This is one of the key messages we, the prime minister of Norway and a 16-year-old UNICEF National Ambassador for Ethiopia, will deliver this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos as we encourage those gathered to “reshape the world” by putting young girls first. We will raise our voices to galvanize the crucial support needed to change attitudes and transform the lives of the countless Malalas, standing together to ensure that these girls are neither invisible nor forgotten.

We are two very different women from different generations, cultures and countries, but like millions of other women and men out there, we agree on this: invest in girls. The question is, is anyone really listening to such calls? After all, we’ve been talking about giving girls equal access to education, employment and healthcare for the past three decades. Will the international community – government, business and the general public – finally take much needed action?

Educated girls and women have smaller families and healthier children, are less likely to die in childbirth, are more likely to see their children survive past the age of 5, are more likely to send their children to school, and are better able to protect themselves and their children from malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, and sexual exploitation. Education empowers women, multiplying their economic choices and contributions, and increasing their political voice and influence across the board.

The numbers don’t lie. For every year a girl stays in school and learns, her future earnings increase hugely. An extra year of primary school education, for example, boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. A one percentage point increase in female secondary education raises the average level of GDP by 0.3 percentage points. Does anyone need more convincing?
In today’s hyper-networked world, we are witnessing unprecedented shifts in traditional power dynamics, and we will all end up impoverished if we remain complicit to girls being denied their right to a better future. Denying girls their rights – whether it be for social, cultural, or economic reasons – means that half the world’s population is prevented from fully contributing to its own economic growth and well-being and to that of local communities.

The voices calling for action are not just ours, but have been heard echoing around the world in the United Nations’ MY World survey on people’s development priorities, as well as in the action agenda laid out in the Girl Declaration. When girls and women across the developing world have been asked what they want for their future, the resounding answer is: education, jobs, healthcare and security.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been critical in galvanizing progress around gender equality and women’s empowerment, but we must build on this success. The clock is ticking: with close to 700 days to go until the MDGs deadline, the targets we set ourselves won’t be reached unless greater investment in girls’ empowerment is made. Without this, girls will continue to drop out of school for lack of safe and supportive learning environments. Women will still marry young, and will still die in childbirth each day for want of simple medical interventions.

As the old adage goes, you can teach a man to fish to feed himself for a lifetime. But if you invest in a girl, she feeds herself, educates future children, lifts up her community and propels her nation forward – charting a path that offers dignity for all in the process.

Ethiopia and Angola double number of girls in school in 10 years

Children pose before the start of their class at a school in Cabinda January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
Children pose before the start of their class at a school in Cabinda January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The number of girls enrolling in primary school has soared across Africa in the last decade, according to a report released on Monday, which also found a significant drop in the number of child deaths over the past five years.

With primary education now free in all but five African countries, there has been a boom in the number of children attending school, with Ethiopia and Angola showing the most dramatic improvements.

In Ethiopia, girls’ enrolment rose to 83 percent from 41 percent between 2000 and 2011, while Angola saw an increase to 78 percent from 35 percent, according to the African Report on Child Wellbeing produced by the African Child Policy Forum, a research institute based in Ethiopia. Read more

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

image
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.”