Ethiopia has one of the youngest populations in the world, with the median age of an Ethiopian being 18.8 years old. Given this startling statistic, it is easy to understand the importance of quality education for the future of the nation. With so many young people, provisions for a quality and comprehensive education could truly transform Ethiopia in the coming years. This is one of the many reasons the Daughters of Charity believe their work in education to be one of the cornerstones of their work to improve the lives of as many Ethiopian people as possible.
Ethiopia has been striving to improve the education system over the past 30 years. Before 1974, illiteracy rates in Ethiopia were well over 90%. After the 1974 revolution, emphasis was placed on increasing literacy in rural areas. Further and more recent efforts by the current government, including a concerted attempt to provide free and universal primary education to the whole population, has seen this situation improve somewhat. However, the current estimated literacy rate of 49.1% is still way below expected international standards, and even low compared to many other African countries.
Enrolment rates, particularly at primary school level, are also relatively positive, with 90% of seven-year-olds enrolled. However, the completion rates at this level are less so, with 52.8% completing grade 8. The majority of children do not continue to Grade 9 and 10. A study by the Welfare Monitoring Survey discovered that Ethiopia has the world’s third largest out of school population. As one can imagine, the problems in education can seriously stunt a countries development. A small increase in any of these statistics could lead to large positive changes in many aspects of development.