Ethiopia’s joint sector review (JSR) meeting gathered some 70 participants including the country’s minister of Education, Dr. Tilaye Gete, along with state ministers, ambassadors, development agencies, civil society organizations and members of the local education group, to review and assess the status of the education sector.
The meeting focused on two key elements - reflecting on the challenges and progress achieved to date as outlined in the mid-term review of the current education plan (Education Sector Development Program V), as well as reviewing the draft Education and Training Roadmap 2030. The Education Roadmap 2030 is currently being developed and proposes a series of reforms to transform the country’s education system.
Since Ethiopia hadn’t conducted a JSR since 2016, this meeting was an opportunity for all stakeholders to engage in an open dialogue and share experiences and lessons to inform future planning. The meeting’s focus was reinforced during the opening remarks by Dr. Sai Väyrynen, Co-chair of Ethiopia’s Education Technical Working Group (ETWG), which brings partners together around sector priorities.
The minister of Education then welcomed participants and reviewed the main achievements and challenges outlined in the Education Roadmap 2030 including:
- Increasing the number of primary schools from over 12,000 in 2001/2 to 38,000 in 2017/18.
- Increasing the net enrollment rate for primary education from 54% in 2002/03 to over 94% in 2014/15.
- Increasing the gender parity index from 0.7 in 1999/2000 to 0.93 in 2014/15.
- Developing a national early childhood care and education (ECCE) policy framework and launching ECCE teacher education programs.
- Increasing the number of secondary schools from 278 to 3500 in the past 20 years.
Despite these great achievements, several challenges were also highlighted including: high dropout rates, low graduation rates, low participation of disadvantaged groups (including children with disabilities) in primary education, poor learning outcomes, as well as the absence of a standardized national curriculum. Among the recommendations to address these challenges were improving teachers’ quality, ensuring free and compulsory primary education, and creating a safe environment for children in school.
A fruitful dialogue between partners
JSR participants were divided into groups to share their thoughts on the strategy and brainstorm on how the government of Ethiopia can further improve collaboration with development partners in order to achieve better results in education.
Participants were deeply engaged in dialogue and provided several insights and recommendations including:
- The Education Roadmap 2030 is highly ambitious and outlines numerous priorities; prioritizing certain interventions could make the strategy more focused and achievable.
- It would be useful to further clarify on how past achievements and challenges have informed proposed decisions and reforms.
- CSOs should be more actively engaged to better support the Education Roadmap 2030 going forward.
More children in school, but need for expanded access in ECCE and secondary schools
The mid-term review analyzed the progress made during the first three years of the education sector development program V implementation. It offered an opportunity to identify key achievements and challenges preventing progress in quality, access, equity, and efficiency, as well as present recommendations to overcome these barriers.
The mid-term review was based on extensive quantitative and qualitative research using EMIS data, implementation reports for GEQIP I and II, annual and biannual official reports, findings from focus groups, as well as reports of education development partners to name a few.
Mr. Elias Wakjira, Director of the Planning and Resource Mobilization Directorate, Ethiopia’s ministry of Education, presented the mid-term review report. The highlighted key achievements included:
- 15 million new students in primary education, signaling the commitment of the government to expand education opportunities.
- The dropout rates for grades 1-8 decreased to less than 10% in three years.
- Access to secondary education showed significant improvement, increasing from 25% to 47.5% between 2014 and 2017.
Regarding the challenges that remain to be addressed in the near future, several were mentioned including that progress in ECCE lags behind other sectors. There is also a need to continue constructing additional secondary schools to meet the rising demand and addressing the needs of internally displaced students, refugees and homeless children.
Several recommendations were discussed, such as launching awareness programs to reach parents and the community on the importance of ECCE; improving education in emergencies support; and building new secondary schools throughout the country.
The feedback collected from stakeholders during the meeting will be used to inform the preparation of the next education plan and the annual work plan. It will also be used to review current education strategies and policies to achieve better results. Additionally, a report with the main findings and recommendations will be written following the JSR meeting.
Participants share their thoughts on the JSR
Several participants expressed how JSRs are an important forum to improve dialogue between partners and the government, as well as to review progress and plan for the future:
The number of participants and the attendance of the Minister of Education in the JSR show the commitment from the government, donors, and civil society to improve education in Ethiopia. The JSR meeting was an opportunity to identify priorities for the upcoming education sector plan and education roadmap.
The JSR meeting helped partners to identify challenges and achievements in the education sector. The group activity allowed us to review these in a comprehensive way and come up with solutions to overcome them. This information will be an extremely useful resource during future consultative meetings.
Joint sector reviews are a great forum for partners and the ministry to have a dialogue on sector planning and provide updates of what has happened in the past as well as agreeing on next steps.
The Education Roadmap is an extremely ambitious task with extensive consultation over the last years. What’s challenging for us donors is to see the prioritization and understand how to fit in with that. It feels this meeting was one step in the right direction. Obviously, there’s many more that need to happen to understand how we can deliver and coordinate the support the Ethiopian government needs to deliver this ambitious roadmap. It also feels like an honest and reflective space so it’s good to have the opportunity to share openly with each other through this forum.
GPE’s support to Ethiopia
GPE grants to Ethiopia totaling US$368 million have supported education reforms to improve the quality of teaching and learning in approximately 40,000 schools. GPE funding contributes to the General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP), a pooled fund established in 2008 supported by GPE along with IDA, DFID, Finland, Italy, Norway, UNICEF and USAID to focus on better alignment with the country’s education priorities.
- The General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP), is a pooled fund supported by GPE along with IDA, DFID, Finland, Italy, Norway, UNICEF and USAID. GEQIP aims to improve the quality of education in all schools in Ethiopia.