I met Aberash and Yosef, two 4th graders, at the Hidassi primary school on the margins of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Like most children around the world, Yosef and Aberash have dreams and hopes for their lives. Yosef wants to become an engineer to design buildings. Aberash hopes to be a doctor so she can help sick people get better.
But not too long ago, Hidassi primary school didn’t exist and the chances for Yosef and Aberash to attend a good school were slim. With the help of the Ethiopian government and several development partners, Hidassi Primary School was built. Where there was a waste dump just a few years ago, there is now a tall multi-story building, larger than most other structures around it. The school hosts 1,600 students between grade 1 and grade 8.
I met many happy students, proud teachers and engaged parents who contribute time and work to make the school truly part of the community.
Hidassie Primary School is one of 40,000 schools and education centers in Ethiopia which have received funding through a multi-donor trust fund. The Global Partnership for Education has contributed a total of $168 million to the fund and has recently allocated another $100 million to support Ethiopia’s children.
Watch Aberash’s and Yosef’s story
Ethiopia Commits to Education
Ethiopia has made rapid progress in getting more children in school and is on track to achieving gender parity in education. Now 86% of Ethiopian children go to primary school, compared to 75 % in 2007. More children make it to the end of primary school: 58% complete it, compared to just 48% in 2007. Class sizes also decreased from 62 to 55 students per teacher between 2008 and 2011.
This progress has not come out of nowhere: the Ethiopian government has prioritized education, because it recognized its potential in helping the country’s development agenda overall. This commitment has translated into a large increase in national budget going to education, from 11% of total spending in 1999-2000 to more than 25% in 2012-13.
GPE resources to support Ethiopia’s vision
After joining the Global Partnership for Education in 2004, Ethiopia received two GPE grants in 2007 and 2010 totaling US$168 million to support the country’s General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP). An important part of Ethiopia’s Education Sector Development Plan for 2010-2015, GEQIP is a nationwide reform program to improve quality of teaching and learning in grades 1 to 12.
Funding from the Global Partnership and other donors is merged and managed by the Ministry of Education, giving the government the flexibility to move resources across components based on the progress made. In late 2013, the Global Partnership allocated another grant of US$100 million to Ethiopia supporting the second phase of GEQIP. The total budget of GEQIP for 4 years is US$ 550 million, contributed by the development community, which in addition to the Global Partnership included the UK Department for International Development, World Bank, US Agency for International Development, Finland and Italy.
A long term view
There is still a lot more to be done, with about 3 million primary-school children not yet in school. Repetition and drop-out rates are still too high, and there are vast disparities between regions. Gains in the education sector are not fast. They take a long-term commitment, starting at the highest levels of government, and continuing throughout the country local authorities, school administrators, teachers, parents and civil society. Ethiopia is showing the way.