Located in the northeast of Africa, Eritrea is a multilingual and multicultural country with approximately 65% of the population living in rural areas. Eritrea’s complex geographical terrain coupled with the population’s nomadic lifestyle and austere economic conditions pose a challenge for the delivery of quality education.
For the Government of Eritrea, education is the foundation for all national development efforts and plays a vital role in economic growth and poverty reduction. Despite the government’s efforts to enroll more children in school over the last decades, 37% of children between 5-13 years old were still out of school in 2016.
The majority of these children are from the most marginalized groups: girls, children living in remote or nomadic areas and children with disabilities. Several challenges hindered their education, including long distances to school aggravated by severe temperatures or strong dusty winds. Schools in rural areas faced difficulties in securing teachers, especially female teachers, and lacked adequate learning materials for their students.
Building a strong foundation for education
When Eritrea joined GPE in 2013, the country received a grant to support the development of the education sector plan for 2013-17. The funding also helped build capacity within the education ministry to improve data collection and analysis— essential elements to develop a strong and measurable plan.
GPE’s approach brought together education partners in the local education group, which included development partners, civil society organizations and the private sector. This collaborative forum spearheaded an inclusive and transparent dialogue on Eritrea’s education policies and strategies.
Once the plan was ready to be implemented, GPE along with UNICEF, the coordinating agency, supported the government’s strategies focused on increasing access for out-of-school children, improving the quality of education and strengthening the capacity of the education system.
GPE funding is benefitting children, youth and adults from communities located in the four most disadvantaged regions of the country—Anseba, Gash Barka, Northern Red Sea and Southern Red Sea.
By improving the management and monitoring capacity of the education ministry, GPE is helping strengthen the entire education sector, because education officials now have the right systems to inform policy decisions and can use the data to measure, monitor, and ultimately improve learning outcomes for all children.