Ethiopia is currently on track to reach Millenium Development Goal two (MDG2) of universal primary education for all by 2015 which is a real achievement. However, this surge in school enrollment is pushing Ethopian schools beyond their capacity and as a result, the quality of education may be decreasing.
Ethiopia is the 3rd most improved country in the world for primary enrolment rates since 2000 (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, September 2011). Public spending on education has increased from 19.8% of the national budget in 2004/5 to 22.8% in 2009/10.
However, this increase in school attendance has come at the expense of educational quality with Ethiopian schools struggling to cope with a 500 percent increase in enrollment in the past 20 years. The increased demand in education and in turn the strain on teachers and resources means that pupils’ individual achievement is suffering. Indeed, secondary school drop out remains high.
So what can be done? Pairing schools in the UK with those in Ethiopia to give support and stimulate enriched learning activities is one thing. Letters between students (and teachers) might encourage them to keep going when times get tough. Maintaining a high standard of education is something even schools in the UK have to deal with and sharing experiences of how to go about this could be beneficial for both parties.
An important message for us all to take home: increasing the quantity of education doesn’t necessarily improve the quality.