Educational Challenges in Qatar

Written By Anna Moneta

Qatar’s history

Qatar, once a modest Gulf state, has undergone a remarkable transformation into a global economic powerhouse, largely attributed to the discovery and exploitation of oil reserves in the mid-20th century. The revelation of oil beneath Qatar’s arid desert sands in the early 1940s marked a pivotal moment, catapulting the nation into a dominant position in the global oil and natural gas markets. This economic ascent is intricately linked to Qatar’s historical ties as a British protectorate, formally established in 1868 with interactions dating back even earlier. [1]

The British, leveraging their extensive experience in oil resource management in the Gulf, played a crucial role by providing technical expertise and guidance for oil drilling and export infrastructure. This collaborative effort laid the foundation for Qatar’s thriving oil industry, enabling the nation to capitalize on its newfound resource wealth. However, the influence of British colonialism extended beyond economic realms, permeating into Qatar’s educational system. The British presence, which included military corps and colonial workers engaged in the oil industry, prompted the emergence of an educational system designed to cater to the children of both Qatari nationals and British colonial workers. This collaborative initiative led to the establishment of the Ministry of Education in 1956, shaping the trajectory of Qatar’s educational landscape. [1]

Today, Qatar stands among the world’s wealthiest nations, largely driven by its revenue from oil and natural gas. Nevertheless, the legacy of colonization raises pertinent questions about the enduring impact on the country’s educational framework. As we explore Qatar’s historical evolution and the complexities of its educational system, it is crucial to address contemporary concerns. The World Bank, in particular, underscores issues in early childhood development (ECD) outcomes in Qatar, shedding light on deficiencies in self-regulation skills and early literacy and numeracy skills among young children. [2] These concerns, despite economic progress, pose potential long-term consequences by impeding crucial brain development, adding a new layer of complexity to the narrative of Qatar’s historical and educational journey.

Qatar’s school system

Qatar’s educational landscape is characterized by a diverse system that includes both public, government-operated schools and privately-run institutions, each offering distinct curricula and languages of instruction. The prevalence of international curricula in many private schools has sparked discussions about the enduring influence of British colonialism on the nation’s education.

Government schools in Qatar are structured into three levels: primary school, serving students between the ages of 6 and 12; preparatory school, accommodating those aged 13 to 15; and secondary school, catering to students between the ages of 16 and 18. Additionally, for younger children, there is a range of options including nurseries for those aged 0 to 3, and kindergarten or preschool for children aged 3 to 5, providing flexibility based on individual needs. It is important to note that associated costs can vary significantly, typically ranging from QAR 15,000 to QAR 40,000.

In higher education, institutions in Qatar are classified as private, national, or branch campuses. The University of Qatar, established in 1973, stands as the oldest higher education institution in the country. Offering a diverse array of programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the university encompasses faculties of engineering, social sciences, education, Islamic studies, humanities, and sciences. The presence of these higher education institutions further enriches Qatar’s educational landscape, contributing to the nation’s academic and intellectual growth.

Issues arising from Qatar’s colonial history.

Postcolonial theorists, exemplified by scholars like Hickling-Hudson (2006), provide a critical lens through which to examine the lasting impact of colonialism on education systems in former colonies. One of their central arguments revolves around the deliberate under-resourcing of education by colonial powers as a means of perpetuating control and exploitation of local populations.

The British presence in Qatar necessitated the establishment of an educational system to cater to the children of both Qatari nationals and British colonial workers. This early system laid the groundwork for Qatar’s educational landscape. Thus, when the nation embarked on its journey of economic transformation fuelled by oil wealth, its educational foundations were influenced by its colonial past. [3]

The postcolonial argument put forth posits that colonial powers intentionally kept education under-resourced in their colonies. This tactic was not merely neglect rather; it was a calculated strategy to exploit local populations. In fact, by depriving colonized peoples of adequate education, colonial powers could maintain control and perpetuate socio-economic inequalities. [3] The 2015 OECD study, which ranked Qatar in the bottom 10 of its educational index, hints at the implications of such deliberate underinvestment.

The correlation between Qatar’s colonial history and its educational challenges becomes apparent when considering the consequences of insufficient educational resources. While Qatar has made remarkable advances in various sectors, including infrastructure and healthcare, its education system has faced persistent disparities in terms of quality and access. These disparities are a reflection of the historical under-resourcing of education, an issue that postcolonial theorists emphasize.

Educational Challenges

The 2015 OECD ranking serves as a stark reminder of the enduring impact of this historical underinvestment. Qatar’s educational system, despite the nation’s substantial wealth, lagged in international assessments.

A significant development in Qatar’s education landscape has been the proliferation of private international schools, particularly in the last three decades. These schools cater primarily to Western expatriates and offer curricula in languages such as English, French, and German. While these institutions have contributed to Qatar’s educational diversity, they have also exacerbated disparities. Students attending private international schools often receive what is perceived as a higher quality education, leading to unequal opportunities in terms of academic performance and prospects. This educational divide raises questions about equity and access within the Qatari education system.

One further challenge facing Qatar’s education system is the need to strike a balance between the Arabic and English languages. Arabization and hybrid approaches have emerged as potential solutions to this linguistic dilemma. Arabization advocates argue that a strong emphasis on Arabic is crucial to preserving cultural and linguistic heritage. Conversely, advocates of the hybrid approach argue that a bilingual model, combining English and Arabic, is essential for equipping students with the skills needed for the globalized world while preserving traditional cultural values. This linguistic draw reflects the complexities of navigating a postcolonial educational path. Although, concurrently, the Qatari government has been active in its efforts to build a cohesive national identity through its governmental curriculum. This curriculum not only imparts knowledge in core subjects like mathematics, science, and the arts but also emphasizes Islamic studies, history, and the Arabic language. While these efforts aim to instil a sense of pride and national identity in Qatari students, they encounter challenges when it comes to preparing students for higher education and the workforce. The need for a curriculum that can adapt to the evolving global landscape while preserving cultural values is a complex task.

The World Bank’s Concerns

The World Bank has raised concerns regarding the state of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Qatar, specifically highlighting deficiencies in self-regulation skills and early literacy and numeracy skills among young children. Despite the country’s economic progress, these developmental gaps pose long-term consequences by impeding crucial brain development. The World Bank recognizes the potential transformative impact of enhanced ECD, not only in academic realms but also in promoting better health outcomes and fostering economic prosperity. [2]


The World Bank proposes a comprehensive three-fold strategy to enhance Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Qatar. Firstly, it advocates for the establishment of a Qatar-based multisectoral body to coordinate and oversee the implementation of a holistic ECD strategy. This body would prioritize the formulation of robust child protection policies, creating a secure environment for young children, while also emphasizing the expansion of support for breastfeeding and parental leave. [2] Secondly, to ensure a more inclusive ECD approach, the World Bank recommends broadening the coverage of programs to encompass all children in Qatar. This expansion involves a significant increase in the scope of nutrition programs and the introduction of pre-primary education initiatives. The focus extends beyond the supply side to cultivating public demand for ECD programs and addressing existing inequalities across socioeconomic lines [2]. Lastly, the World Bank stresses the necessity of establishing a robust quality assurance system for Qatar’s ECD. This involves harmonizing standards for teachers and educational providers, ensuring a coherent curriculum spanning ages zero to six, and implementing monitoring mechanisms. A comprehensive set of key performance indicators, supported by a robust data system, is proposed to track child development outcomes and monitor progress effectively. [2]

Conclusion

In conclusion, Qatar’s educational journey reflects a profound transformation, evolving from an initially inadequate educational provision to a nuanced landscape deeply influenced by historical colonialism. Although commendable strides have been made in enhancing educational performance, the enduring legacy of colonization persists, leaving an indelible mark on the country’s educational framework. This narrative gains additional complexity with the World Bank’s highlighted concerns regarding early childhood development (ECD) outcomes, emphasizing the urgency of addressing contemporary challenges.

To effectively navigate the intricacies embedded in Qatar’s historical and educational context, a compelling solution emerges—the establishment of robust national educational institutions. These institutions should not only aspire to academic excellence but also actively integrate globally relevant subjects into the curriculum. A strategic imperative lies in prioritizing Qatar’s national educational system over international institutes, ensuring alignment with the nation’s distinctive history, cultural values, and contemporary requirements. Through this strategic emphasis, Qatar can pave the way for an education system that not only preserves its rich heritage but also equips its youth with the skills and knowledge essential for navigating the complexities of the modern globalized world. Embracing this transformative approach ensures that Qatar’s educational landscape becomes a beacon of cultural preservation and global readiness.

 


REFERENCES

[1] Zahlan, R. S. (2016). The creation of Qatar. Routledge.

[2] Nikaein Towfighian, S., & Adams, L. S. (2017). Early Childhood Development in Qatar. The World Bank.

[3] Hickling-Hudson, A. (2006). Cultural complexity, postcolonial perspectives, and educational change: Challenges for comparative educators. In J. Zajda, S. Majhanovich, & V. Rust (Eds.), Education and Social Justice (pp. 191-208). Springer Netherlands.

General Secretariat for Developing Planning. (2018). Qatar Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022. Retrieved from https://www.psa.gov.qa/en/knowledge/Documents/NDS2Final.pdf.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2015). PISA 2015 Results in Focus. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf.

 

Female Genital Mutilation and its Effects on Education

Written by Juliana Campos, Nadia Annous and Maria Popova.

FGM, or the full-term Female Genital Mutilation is a practice performed on women and young girls involving removal or injury to the female genital organs. It is not performed for medical reasons, nor does it bring any health benefits. FGM is generally considered a human rights violation and a form of torture with long lasting effects on girls’ physical and mental health, often leading to early marriage and hindering girls’ access to education in over 30 countries worldwide. 

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

According to the World Health Organisation, FGM consists of total or partial removal of the external genitalia or injury to the female genital organs. There are four types of FGM: 

  • Partial or total removal of clitoral glands; 
  • Partial or total removal of clitoral glands and labia minora; 
  • Infibulation, which consists of narrowing the vaginal opening; 
  • All other harmful procedures to female genitalia for non-medical purposes. 

In total, it is estimated that over 200 million women have undergone this procedure worldwide. Currently, FGM is performed in over 30 countries around Africa, the Middle East and Asia, with most occurrences being registered in Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt. Most victims of FGM fall between the age range of 0 to 15 years old.

FGC Types. “Classification of female genital mutilation”, World Health Organization, 2014.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Immediate and long-term complications

FGM has no health benefits, on the contrary, it can lead to a number of short and long-term complications to women. The adverse effects of the procedure are both physical and psychological, as FGM interferes with the natural functions of the female body and brings several damages to a healthy and normal genital tissue. Short-term health complications include excessive pain and bleeding, swelling, fever and infections. Oftentimes, the practitioners performing FGM use shared instruments, which leads to transmission of HIV and Hepatitis. Long-term complications include urinary and vaginal infections, pain during intercourse and complications during childbirth, especially in women who have undergone infibulation, as the sealed vagina is ripped open for intercourse and stitched back again after childbirth or widowhood. Neonatal mortality rates are also higher in places where FGM is practiced, as it can lead to increased risk of death for the baby.

How does FGM affect schooling? 

FGM has a direct effect on girls’ education, starting by the long period of recovery needed after the procedure. A full recovery can take up to several months, by the end of which girls may feel it is pointless to return to the same school year. The longer education is disrupted, the lower are the chances of a return to school and many girls end up taking on other responsibilities such as house chores or informal work instead.

Another effect on girls’ education caused by FGM is the increased social pressure for marriage. Especially in low-income households, marriage can mean better financial stability and higher social status. As a result, education is no longer a priority for these girls’ families, causing many FGM victims to enter early marriages, which may lead to early pregnancies, diminishing the chances of a return to school to near zero. 

Besides physical health complications, the psychological trauma caused by such an invasive and painful procedure, often performed without anaesthesia, may be paralysing for these girls, possibly leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, difficulties in socialisation and an overall impact on girls’ confidence. 

Why is FGM still practiced? 

There are different reasons as to why FGM remains such a common practice in certain regions, most of which reflect cultural or social factors. For instance, FGM is considered a requirement for women to be eligible for marriage, serving as “proof” that they have been kept “pure”. As a result, many families may feel as if they should conform to this practice in order to protect their daughters from social exclusion. In countries like Somalia where, according to UNICEF, 98% of girls between the ages of 5 and 11 have undergone FGM, not being part of that astonishing statistic can outcast these young girls from their communities.

Since the 1990’s, FGM has been the center of political debates as the international community and feminist groups press governments for a ban on this practice. However, besides guaranteeing social status, there is also a culture aspect behind FGM. It is seen as an honourable rite of passage, a way for these communities to connect to their ancestors and it creates a sense of belonging which can be difficult for outsiders to comprehend. 

As a result, local political leaders who are openly against FGM are accused of caving in to external pressure and reduce their chances of being elected, making it unlikely that there will be a change in laws before there is a change in these societies’ cultural mindsets. This is evidenced by the fact that FGM is still practiced in many countries where it is officially illegal, such as Egypt, Ghana, Senegal and Burkina Faso.

How can education help end FGM? 

Many girls are forced to undergo FGM at an age when they don’t understand the risks of the procedure. In fact, due to the alarmingly low literacy rates in some communities, it is likely that neither parents nor practitioners are able to make scientifically informed choices regarding these young girls’ health. It is evident, therefore, that education and access to information may be the strongest tools for prevention against Female Genital Mutilation.

Though information can be spread orally and not necessarily through formal education, taboos still hinder open discussions on female reproductive health. That is why it is important for healthcare professionals to educate local practitioners and parents in an accessible way. As education is also an empowering tool, it is crucial that girls are invited into these conversations and informed of their human right to make decisions over their own bodies.

What is being done to stop FGM?

Evidently, the process of educating people about the dangers of FGM must be done respectfully, by listening to these communities and understanding what this rite of passage means as a tradition. That is what NGOs such as the Association for the Promotion of Women in Gaoua (APFG) have done. APFG contributors in Burkina Faso have managed to persuade FGM practitioners to maintain the sacred rituals of the rite but leave out genital cutting. That way, girls are protected from the complications of FGM and the community’s tradition is kept. 

It is equally as important to support survivors all around the world, women who are still dealing with the long lasting physical and mental impacts caused by FGM. The NGO Terre de Femmes or TDF, a German organisation working on raising awareness against Female Genital Mutilation, works to protect and support FGM survivors in Europe, particularly in countries with the highest rates of affected individuals, namely France, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. TDF also advocates against Female Genital Mutilation by writing petitions and increasing political pressure for countries to either ban FGM or ensure existing laws are upheld. 

In conclusion…

Female Genital Mutilation results in numeral short and long-term complications for women, including a significant disruption in girls’ education. It is an extremely dangerous practice affecting thousands of girls each year, girls who have been denied the basic human right to physical integrity. 

Still today, perhaps due to cultural stigmas around female reproductive health, FGM is not as openly discussed as other gender related issues and efforts to tackle its impacts are still insufficient. Educating practitioners, parents and girls themselves by providing information on the dangers of FGM is a powerful tool against this harmful procedure. Furthermore, it is crucial to take FGM’s social, political and cultural complexities into consideration and, most importantly, amplify FGM victims’ voices.

REFERENCES

Cover Image by UN Women/Ryan Brown via Flickr

*Upon request, the article may be translated into other languages. Please use the comments section below*

Educational Challenges in Puerto Rico

Written By Samantha Orozco and John Whitlock

Historic background

Puerto Rico is located northeast of the Caribbean Sea and is considered one of the Greater Antilles. Its location boasts beautiful beaches and landscapes but is also prone to hurricanes and other natural hazards that have severely affected its residents. Puerto Rico’s official language is Spanish and it is home to a diverse and multicultural population, with most of its inhabitants of Puerto Rican descent and a significant community of African, European, and Latin American ancestry.

After the Spanish-American War, the United States (US) officially annexed the then Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in December 1898, initially subjecting Puerto Rico to rule by the US military and a governor appointed by the President. In 1917, the US Congress voted to grant Puerto Ricans official citizenship status, while still denying them the representative rights that usually accompany full citizenship. The island’s inhabitants could not elect their own governor until 1947.

To this day, Puerto Ricans are not able to participate in US elections, have no voting representation within the US Congress, and do not hold the right to “equal treatment” in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The island is now an “unincorporated territory” with “quasi-colonial” status, according to former Puerto Rican high school teacher and US Secretary of Education John King.  This causes serious consequences in the education system due to limited support from the US federal government and the unfortunate impact of natural hazards, the negative and systematic effects of which have not been adequately addressed.

Education System Overview

The Puerto Rican education system is roughly based on the American model. School attendance is mandatory from ages 6 to 18, and divided into six years of elementary education, three years of junior high school, and three years of high school. Academic calendars and grading scales are very similar to their US equivalents. After numerous failed attempts by the US to convert the Puerto Rican education system to English, Spanish has remained the language in which public schools operate. The high school diploma is known as the “Diploma de Escuela Superior” a literal translation from its mainland English counterpart. 

A key difference between challenges to the Puerto Rican school system and the mainland US system is the percentage of children experiencing poverty. According to the Census, 44% of Puerto Ricans live in poverty. Whereas 17% of children live below the poverty line in the US, this percentage is at 55% in Puerto Rico and even higher in rural areas. In 2017, a quarter of Puerto Rican children did not have access to the internet and half did not have access to a home computer.

Today, those who do have a home computer may have unreliable power due to damages to the electrical grid caused by disasters and mismanagement. High school drop-out rates are much higher on the island, especially from households with lower incomes: according to the U.S. Department of Education, the dropout rate among high school students is one-third, which is more than twice the current percentage in mainland US. In 2015, the secondary education net enrollment rate was 66.6% as opposed to 80.5% in mainland US.

This data was published in 2009-2010, which is the most recent information available due to the limited production of up-to-date statistics by the local government. Moreover, federal counts frequently omit Puerto Rico from their calculations. It is likely that the dropout rate in Puerto Rico has likely increased even further since, as hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the situation. For those students who graduate high school, outcomes are not equal to those on the mainland US.

According to the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico, 51% of high school graduates pursue university education, whereas 67% of suburban Americans and 63% of rural and urban Americans attend college. Many Puerto Rican graduates who are able to attend college come from privileged backgrounds which enable them to attend private schools and hire college application consultants.

This is in line with the islands’ rank as the third-highest income-unequal in the world, following South Africa and Zambia. Additionally, it is particularly difficult for Puerto Rican students to pursue a college education in the mainland US. As US and Puerto Rican high school graduation tests are not harmonized, Puerto Rican high school students are required to take a Spanish language test that nearly no US mainland universities consider valid. Initially aimed to create a standardized college admissions test for the Spanish-speaking world and implemented for a trial run in Puerto Rico, this test was never expanded beyond.  Because of this, and underfunding, most public high school guidance counselors in Puerto Rico do not have knowledge of mainland admission requirements and cannot help students in that way.  

In the last year of reported data, “only 694 high school graduates from all of Puerto Rico went to college on the mainland or abroad in 2016. That’s about 2 percent. The island’s population is 3.2 million, according to the Census Bureau.” 

A positive aspect of the Puerto Rican education system is that the University of Puerto Rico is more accessible and affordable than comparable universities in the mainland US where the average tuition at a public institution is $25,707 per year (for students with family residence in the state) or $44,014 per year (for students without family residence in the state). In comparison, students at the University of Puerto Rico pay $4,366 in tuition in-state, and $8,712 out-of-state. However, according to advocacy group Excelencia in Education, less than half of students who enroll in Puerto Rican universities earn degrees after six years, compared to the US mainland where 58 percent of college students graduate. 

Natural hazards in Puerto Rico

Natural hazards have wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico for many years. Despite being aware of this situation, efforts to mitigate the damage have not been effectively implemented and disaster has been the result. Most of the resources allocated for education are used for repairing school infrastructure, but they remain insufficient.

A clear example of this is the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which struck in 2017 and six years later still affects the territory. Maria severely impacted access to education in Puerto Rico and exposed deficiencies in both the state and institutional aspects of the system. There was an inability to respond to emergencies and a lack of efficiency in seeking solutions that would allow the population to continue their education.

At the time, according to a report made by Kavitha Cardoza (2023), the damage caused by Maria led to the closure of many schools due to infrastructure problems, leaving thousands of students with no opportunity to continue their studies and resulting in a high dropout rate. This created a vicious cycle, as student attrition reduced enrollment, which in turn led to the closure of schools that did not have enough students to operate.

In addition to hurricanes and floods, Puerto Rico has also experienced earthquakes. In 2020, a series of earthquakes contributed to the destruction of the already precarious school infrastructure. Just as the system was trying to recover from the ravages of Maria, it had to face the closure of schools for three months while engineers verified the safety of those still in operation. The most recent natural catastrophe in Puerto Rico was recorded in September 2022 when Hurricane Fiona struck the island, causing damage to infrastructure and the temporary closure of the few schools that were still functioning.

An aerial view of the damage left behind after Hurricane Maria is seen from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Black Hawk helicopter as AMO agents respond to the humanitarian needs of the people of Puerto Rico October 2, 2017. Photo by Mani Albrecht via Flickr

Bureaucracy and abandonment

Despite its status as an incorporated territory in the United States, discussions about Puerto Rico’s true status and the ongoing debate about its future, whether to be considered a state or attain independence, have not ceased. The only certainty thus far is that Puerto Rican residents are not considered equal to citizens of the U.S. mainland.

The Puerto Rican educational system faces challenges ranging from insufficient investment to talent migration and disparities in educational opportunities. In theory, Puerto Rico has autonomy in managing its resources. However, for many important decisions, authorities find themselves dependent on aid from the federal government.  Due to the implementation of PROMESA, an act passed by the Obama administration in 2016, an unelected Financial Management and Oversight Board makes all decisions about how funding is used in Puerto Rico.  “The FMOB has proposed an array of measures to “shock the system” into growth”.

These measures include but are not limited: to wage controls, reduction in government services, closing public schools, cuts to the University of Puerto Rico, over 100 percent increases in university tuition and other fees, laying off thousands of public employees, furloughing public employees of two days per month, and cuts of 10 percent from pensions of retired workers. Puerto Rico heavily relies on federal funds to maintain and improve the quality of education, and this insufficient investment has led to a lack of resources and deteriorated infrastructure in many schools. For the start of the 2023-2024 school year, it is estimated that 588 out of the 856 functioning schools opened with infrastructure damage, meaning that 69% of schools are still not in optimal conditions to receive students.

The migration of students and educational professionals to the U.S. mainland has been an additional challenge. The pursuit of better economic opportunities on the mainland has resulted in a decrease in school enrollment in Puerto Rico and a loss of talent in the classrooms. This trend negatively impacts schools and, ultimately, the quality of education provided on the island. This is compounded by poor working conditions for educational staff as well as a lack of investment in the professionalization and training of teachers.

The lack of equal educational opportunities is another critical issue. The fact that Puerto Ricans do not have access to the same resources and educational programs as other United States citizens has led to significant disparities in access to quality education, perpetuating inequality. This is evident in the exclusion of standardized test results in Puerto Rico from national compilation. The implementation of federally imposed educational standards and standardized assessments does not always consider the peculiarities of Puerto Rico’s educational system. This can lead to unfair assessments and the imposition of inappropriate measures that do not adapt to the island’s reality. Special education and support for students with disabilities have also faced challenges, such as the lack of resources and trained personnel to provide the necessary support.

Reparation of a fence at the Escuela República del Perú in Puerto Rico, on November 8, 2018. Photo by Ruben Diaz Jr. Via Flickr

The efforts to restore the Education System

The uncertainty surrounding the political status of Puerto Rico has influenced the stability and educational policies and created additional challenges in long-term planning and decision-making. However, in May of this year, the federal administration initiated a program to decentralize the Puerto Rican educational system, which should be viewed as the beginning of sustainable efforts to ensure a dignified education in Puerto Rico. This is in response to the imminent educational crisis affecting Puerto Rico, which must be addressed regardless of the territory’s political future.

The Biden-Harris Administration has played a significant role in supporting Puerto Rico’s education, providing substantial funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and other programs. As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, public school teachers received a 30% salary increase, school repairs were expedited, and technical assistance was provided to improve the management of federal programs and funds. This move towards decentralization is seen as a historic commitment by the government of Puerto Rico to create a 21st-century educational system that better prepares students for the future. So far, $4.9 billion has been allocated to Puerto Rico since taking office. This includes $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act and $1.2 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act -CRRSA- 2021.

The Future

As challenges in infrastructure, inequality, and quality persist, the future of this education system and its ability to create better opportunities and outcomes for its students is largely dependent on the future stance of the US towards Puerto Rico. The Biden administration has made promises of a better, more equitable relationship between Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S., but it remains to be seen whether those are implemented in practice. According to Chris de Soto, a Senior Advisor of the Office of the US Secretary of Education,

“Following two natural disasters and a global pandemic, it is critical that trust is rebuilt with students and families across the island. The public should be aware of how federal funds are contributing to the educational recovery of their schools and actually see the benefits in classrooms across the island.  While progress has been made, we know there is more work to do.” 

In recent years, US funding to the Puerto Rican education system has increased. In 2022, Puerto Rico’s education system received federal aid funds amounting to $2.62 billion which is five times higher than education funding allocated to Utah, a state with a similar population size, highlighting the US government’s understanding that the Puerto Rican education system is in a more dire situation than the mainland U.S. The key focus remains the prioritization of educational investment in mitigation and contingency plans to strengthen the resilience of the population against the imminent risk of being struck again by natural disasters. Indeed, Puerto Rico’s education system has endured challenges, the reason why the commitment of authorities to a brighter future for the next generations has to remain unwavering.


References

Educational Challenges in Benin

Written by Faith Galgalo

The country profile

Inauguration monument Dévoués. Photo by Presidency of the Republic of Benin on Flickr.

Located in West Africa, and on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, The Republic of Benin (French: République du Bénin), gained independence in 1960, from the French rule. Benin, is part of the 15 member states that make up Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a Regional Bloc aimed at promoting economic corporation among member states, to raise living standards and promote economic development.

Education System in Benin

Benin education system follows the French education model, which is Six years in primary, four years in Junior High, three years in Senior High and three years in University, which constitutes to the 6-4-3-3 system (UNESCO, 2023). Education in Benin has been free for 17 years. The provision of the constitution under Rights and Duties of the Individual, Article 13, states that primary education shall be obligatory and the government shall progressively offer free education to its schools (Constitution of Benin (COB), 1990).

Problems in Benin Education

Benin strategy to increasing student enrollment by introducing free education at the Primary level, increased the enrollment rate, from a net enrollment rate of 82% in 2005 before free primary education, to 97% in 2018, 12 years after free primary education was introduced (Data World Bank, 2018).

The rapid increase of students at the foundation level of education due to free education, has however, not translated, in the progressive levels of education, of Secondary and University. According to World Bank Data, 54% of Beninese children enrolled in the 1st grade of Primary school eventually reaches the last grade of Primary education. The low number of students progressing to Secondary and University schools has significantly been attributed to child labor, early marriages, early pregnancy and poverty.

The low literacy levels, which currently stands at 46% and is much lower than the rates in the neighboring countries of Nigeria (62%) and Togo (67%) (World Bank, 2021). In 2018, Benin was among the 10 least literate countries in the world (42.36). The high dropout rate to other levels of education, have led to a reduction of national income and overall GDP in the country, as jobs for less qualified people lead to low-income jobs in the future, creating a lower access to innovation and a lower GDP. As individuals with low levels of literacy are more likely to experience poorer employment opportunities, outcomes and lower income as they face welfare dependency and high levels of poverty as a country (World Literacy Foundation, 2018).

Gender Gaps

Teacher Léandre Benon and student Mariam at the blackboard. Photo by GPE/Chantal Rigaud in Flickr.

The high dropout rates are particularly evident to Benin gender gaps, which have seen more girls drop out than boys. In Benin, gaps between women and men stem from structural social disparities that start earlier in life. According to World Bank, (Nathalie, 2022) the male literacy rate between 15-24 years is about 55 percent while the female literacy rate in the same age group is about 30 percent. Only one in ten girls aged 21-24 have completed secondary school. Moreover, one third of 20–24-year-olds are married by the age of 18, and 15 percent are already mothers at the age of 15-19 (Nathalie, 2022).

In addition, the average number of years of schooling in Benin is 3.8 years which is lower than its ECOWAS member countries of 4.2 years in 2019 (UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2022).

Since 2015, Benin has not yet closed the gap. Also, the drop in lower secondary completion rate from 45% in 2015 to 33% and 2020 (UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2022) echoes the need to focus on the pursuit of education and ensure 100% transition from one level of education to the next, in both genders.

These gender gaps have translated to the larger community whereby the gender parity index which measures the steps a country has made towards gender parity in participation and/or educational opportunities for females is low at 0.79% (World Bank, 2022). Young girls in Benin are at risk of not completing education as a result of societal norms automatically decreasing women participation of women in Benin’s formal sector. The Government has increased its efforts in ensuring Girls education is addressed with Benin agreeing to introduce the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa which is part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa (Forwerk, 2017).

Child labor

Children in Benin engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in the production of cotton and crushed granite. Children also perform dangerous tasks in domestic work and street vending. According to International Labor Organization (ILO, 2021), 20% of children under the age of 14yrs, experience child labor.

Children are trafficked mostly within Benin but also to neighboring countries such as Gabon, Nigeria, and the Republic of the Congo, for domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation, and to work in vending, farming, and stone quarrying (ILO, 2021). Children living in the northern regions of Benin are the most vulnerable to trafficking owing to being a rural area. According to the International Labor Organization, a practice locally known as vidomégon (Child placement), where children most girls, are sent to live with other families for domestic work in exchange for educational opportunities, which in most cases, lead to many children becoming victims of labor exploitation and sexual abuse.

In 2013, the Government implemented a nationwide anti-child labor awareness campaign and signed a bi-partite agreement with a Beninese worker association to reduce child labor through increased collaboration (Refworld, 2021). That year, the Government officials handled 62 child trafficking cases and 11 exploitive child labor cases, referred 23 suspects to the court system on child labor and trafficking charges, and provided shelter to 173 victims of trafficking (ILO, 2021). In another effort to end child labor, Benin’s government through its Social Affairs docket, removed 400 children from child labor as a result of Social Services inspection (ILO, 2021).

Lack of official documentation

A 12th grade math class at Collège d’enseignement général of Sô-Ava. Photo by GPE/Chantal Rigaud in Flickr.

The Beninese Government offers free registration to a new born before 10 days, after which, the parent/ guardian incurs a fee of $30 (ILO, 2021). Cultural practices such as naming a baby, takes 10 days after birth, which therefore gives the parents little time to register and obtain a birth certificate. While in other households, 2 in 10 children in Benin, are born at home, giving children little or no hopes in acquiring official documentation (ILO, 2021).

Lack of official documentation in any country, presents a challenge in accessing basic rights such as access to health and education. In Benin, 4 out of 10 children are not registered at birth and do not receive a birth certificate. As a consequence, they are often denied the right to an education and lack access to other essential services, hence leading to an increase in the informal sector and an increase in child labor.

Since January 2012, UNICEF has been involved in the distribution of more than 140,000 birth certificates that were pulled up in civil status registration centers. Through this initiative, children have access to the services they are entitled to such as health and education. According to UNHCR, a National forum on civil registration is aiming to address the hadles that prevent universal access to birth registration in Benin (UNICEF,2012).

Conclusion

Benin is a country with a growing economy, whose efforts such as free primary education, increase of teachers and facilities, have showed a slight increase, there is still the need for the Government to increase its efforts in ensuring 100% transition in all levels of education in both genders, this will increase the literacy rate, and eventually the economic situation to improve the lives of Beninese people.

A few recommendations would be to increase Government spending on the education sector, especially following the Government 5 years plan through its Program Action that began from 2021-2026, which sorts to increase development in various Governments sectors such as; Education challenges, Development challenges, Economic challenges. Also, Government needs to up its efforts in ensuring no child is left behind as a result of lack of identification, child labor and early marriages. The Government and its Education stakeholders need to encourage the communities especially in the rural areas that Education is an asset, and through it, an entire community benefits from new ideas, leaders and increased standards of living. Through this, the literacy rate of Benin, will increase adding to Benin workforce, that mostly depends on Agriculture, can eventually expand to other sectors such as Technology and Professional and business services hence increase Benin’s GDP.

References

Educational challenges in Papua New Guinea

Written by Fenna Eelkema

Introduction

Flag of Papua New Guinea. Kumul Flying high on the 16th of September 2022 across the Southern Cross. Photo by Spencer Wungin on Unsplash

Papua New Guinea is a beautiful country consisting of 600 islands and a population of 10 million. There are more than 800 different languages used in Papua New Guinea, making it one of the world’s most linguistically diverse nations. After being colonised by various countries for 250 years, Papua New Guinea finally gained independence in 1975. Since gaining this independence, Papua New Guinea has been on a quest to provide accessible and quality education for its children. Despite these efforts, Papua New Guinea still faces educational challenges, such as a low literacy rate, a high drop-out rate, and a teacher shortage. Additionally, school is not accessible to all children due to financial, health, or geographical reasons.

Education in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, the journey towards providing accessible and quality education has undergone several transformations over the past fifty years. In 1973, a significant milestone was achieved with the establishment of the first national unified education system. This system adopted the structure of 6+4+2, wherein students completed six years in primary school, four years in high school, and lastly, two years in either a national high school or directly entering colleges. Despite its intentions, this rigid system limited students’ autonomy over their learning, and the education sector still fell short of achieving wanted goals.

In the 1990s, Papua New Guinea established a new educational system in response to the need for change. The structure was changed to 3+6+4, with three years in elementary school, six years in primary school, and four years in secondary school. This shift aimed to implement an outcomes-based curriculum designed to align education with desired learning objectives. However, challenges persisted, and this education system struggled to meet wanted goals.

Therefore in 2021, there was another transformation; the new 1+6+6 structure was introduced, outlining a curriculum that begins with one year of Early Child Education and Development, followed by six years of primary education and an additional six years of secondary education. A distinctive feature of this structure is adopting a standards-based curriculum, outlining precise learning benchmarks for students and providing educators with clear guidelines for teaching and assessment strategies. Hopefully, this new structure will help improve Papua New Guinea’s education for all children.

Low literacy rate

The low literacy rate in Papua New Guinea has been a concern for a long time; while there has been some improvement over the last two decades, still more than three million people are illiterate. In 2000, the literacy rate was 57 per cent; in 2010, it was 61%; and in 2015, it was 63 per cent. The combination of linguistic diversity and insufficient resources has contributed to this long-standing problem.

The high dropout rates are another reason for the low literacy rate. Around a quarter of children aged 6 to 18 are out of school, and the rate of primary school students transitioning into lower secondary school is only 56%. Economic pressure/poverty, family responsibility, or inaccessible schools are some factors that lead students to drop out.

To hopefully lower the drop-out rate, some high schools have started using the FODE (Flexible Open Distance Education) concept, which allows students to pursue their education beyond the confines of the conventional classroom setting with flexibility; students are allowed to study at their own pace within their communities, liberating them from the limitations of urban centres. This program has seen promising results, with over 80,000 students returning to education.

Remember: there is always something to smile about in the world. Photo by Vika Jordanov on Unsplash

Quality education in remote areas

Papua New Guinea’s unique geography and many remote areas make providing quality education to these hard-to-reach regions hard. The key to quality education is quality teachers. Unfortunately, there is a teacher shortage in all of Papua New Guinea; this shortage is so dire that it has even led to instances where children were left without a school to attend. In 2016, approximately 10,000 teaching positions were vacant, with the majority of these vacancies being in remote areas. Drawing teachers to these remote areas has proven to be a considerable struggle. While initiatives like ‘remote school allowances’ and scholarships have been established to encourage teachers to work in these remote regions, poor motivation and reluctance to work in these areas have contributed to persistent teacher shortages. There are also reports of teachers who were entitled to these allowances but did not receive them; this discouraged some teachers from doing their best work.

Many teachers have also not been receiving in-service training. This is due to a lack of funding. The government has been relying on donors to finance, but the budget is inadequate. Furthermore, there are no structures or regular training posts to support teachers in schools. Now that the educational system is transforming into the 1+6+6 standards-based curriculum, it is imperative that teachers receive the proper training to implement the curriculum accordingly.

Financial problems are another reason why there are issues in remote areas. Families in poor, remote areas often cannot afford school fees, which can amount to more than half of their earnings. While some school fees were abolished by the national government in 1993, schools continue to charge some fees, leading to a financial barrier that hinders equitable access to education. Additionally, sizeable towns in urban areas usually have local secondary schools, whereas students in remote areas often rely on provincial boarding schools; sending your child to a boarding school typically costs more money, which puts the families at an even more significant setback.

Poverty and Health Care

Many children in Papua New Guinea are dealing with health-related challenges. Some of these health challenges stem from poverty, disproportionately affecting remote and rural areas where 85 per cent of the population lives.

One of the health challenges is that the immunisation coverage in Papua New Guinea has been stuck around 60 per cent for nearly ten years. This places children at unnecessary risk of preventable diseases that could be controlled through vaccinations. Additionally, for many individuals, it is hard to access clean sanitation and safe drinking water; this makes it hard always to practice good hygiene leading to contagious diseases easily spread among children.

Malnutrition is another health issue in Papua New Guinea, the underlying cause of almost half of all under-five deaths. Nearly half of all the children aged 6 to 59 months (5 years) suffer from stunted growth, indicating chronic undernutrition during critical developmental periods. Stunting not only endangers a child’s chance of survival but is also harmful to a child’s general health and cognitive growth, which could lead to long-lasting negative consequences.

Another issue is that, for many people, healthcare facilities are not easily accessible. The ratio of doctors to people is one doctor for every 17,068 people, compared to, for instance, Australia, where the ratio is one doctor for every 302 people. Additionally, 90% of the doctors are based in urban areas, whereas 85% of the population lives in rural areas, leaving these rural areas with even fewer doctors. Children often reside hours away from the nearest health clinic, facing difficult journeys on foot, by boat, or by unreliable local transportation. This lack of accessibility worsens children’s difficulties obtaining crucial medical care and other treatments.

Because of its geographical location, Papua New Guinea is frequently subjected to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, tsunamis, and cyclones. These events threaten people’s health, disrupt healthcare services, and increase existing vulnerabilities.

To address these health challenges, Papua New Guinea must focus on improving general health care, raising immunisation coverage, promoting better nutrition, improving healthcare accessibility, and strengthening disaster preparedness. By doing so, Papua New Guinea can make significant steps toward ensuring a healthier and more promising future for its children.

Conclusion

To conclude, Papua New Guinea’s educational landscape is marked by progress and persistent challenges. The educational system has undergone many changes, from a rigid structure to an outcomes-based approach. The recent adoption of the 1+6+6 structure shows promise for a more successful curriculum. Still, challenges in teacher training remain, which may impact the outcome of this new curriculum.

Low literacy rates and high dropout rates continue to hinder progress. Initiatives like Flexible Open Distance Education (FODE) have shown potential in addressing dropout rates, but more needs to be done to ensure every child has an opportunity to learn.

The shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in remote areas, presents a significant obstacle because quality education can only happen with quality teachers. Efforts to attract teachers to these regions have been somewhat effective but not wholly successful.

Financial barriers, health issues, and insufficient access to healthcare have added to the challenge. Addressing these challenges is crucial for ensuring a healthier and more successful learning environment for children.

Papua New Guinea has made significant progress in providing accessible and quality education. Although there is still a long road ahead, the nation can create s brighter future for its children by putting in the effort and working with various organisations.

Sources

University of Kent to close its Brussels campus

Written by Camille Boblet—Ledoyen

Photo by Tomica S. on Unsplash

The news of the closure of the University of Kent’s Brussels campus, without prior warning or consultation, for the June 2024 deadline, took not only the students and professors of the institute by surprise but also the entire academic world. This very damaging decision risks relegating the University to a national or even regional rank. More generally, it is one of the many signs of the decline of the United Kingdom from a world power to a middle power.

The Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a graduate school of the University of Kent, located in Brussels, Belgium. It was established in 1998 as a joint venture between the University of Kent and the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). BSIS offers a range of interdisciplinary master’s degree programmes in international relations, conflict analysis, development, and law, as well as a PhD program. BSIS provides a unique learning experience for students worldwide, focusing on international affairs and European integration. The faculty comprises internationally renowned experts in their fields who engage in cutting-edge research and teach courses that cover a wide range of topics, including global governance, human rights, international security, and conflict resolution.

The importance of the Brussels campus makes the decision to close it all the more regrettable. By deciding to close its campus by June 2024, the University of Kent risks weakening its position and glowing reputation in a lasting way. Students from the Brussels campus will probably not move to Canterbury and will choose not to continue their studies at the University. As the United Kingdom is a non-member of the European Union, leaving Brussels for Canterbury is all the more complex and difficult. The University of Kent’s location in Brussels, a city of European and NATO institutions, was a wise choice, and its closure means that it loses the international dimension that made it so attractive. The university administration says budget costs and inflation are responsible for the decision. Broken Chalk regrets that education and empowerment are the primary victims of austerity policies. The closure of such a strategic campus not only for the University of Kent but for the British educational model is simply beyond the academic realm. The British government should accompany and financially support its universities for its own influence, for its attractiveness, and to finally remain a global power. A country that does not invest in education is a country doomed to decline – and deserve to.

To paraphrase Richard III: “A university! My Kingdom for a University!”

How war in Ukraine affects education

Written by Katerina Chalenko

On February 24, 2022, Thursday, at 3:40 am, a full-scale war broke out in Ukraine.

Undoubtedly, the hostilities in the country have a negative impact on the psychological and physical condition of the citizens, both children and adults. Entire families were forced to hide from constant shelling, leave their homes and flee to other regions or countries due the danger situation in the regions where they live.

The martial law in Ukraine has changed the lives of every citizen and affected all spheres of life.

EU projects on education and psychosocial support to children in Eastern Ukraine. Photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid on Flickr.

But how did the war affect education in Ukraine?

Within weeks of the invasion, nearly 16 million Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge abroad and in other parts of Ukraine. Many of these were women and children, causing significant harm to Ukraine’s majority female teaching force and their students.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers around the world developed remote teaching skills. Now that the war has again divided their classrooms, Ukrainian teachers have adapted these skills to teach students across Europe and the world.

Like Ukraine itself, which has shown tremendous resistance, educators (teachers, professors, etc.) have continued their educational efforts despite enormous odds.  Since the military invasion, teachers have continued to teach their students in bomb shelters during active bombardment. Gas stations and grocery stores powered by generators are turning into centers for filming virtual lessons.

Ukraine’s response and persistent challenges to Education

Ukraine’s literacy rate is 99.8%, one of the highest in the world, and education is a source of national pride. In wartime, the Ukrainian government is working to adapt the education system to new realities.

The day after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine recommended that the educational process in educational institutions of all levels be suspended and that students be sent on a two-week vacation. During this time, part of Ukraine’s territory was temporarily occupied, and a number of cities and villages (Mariupol, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and others) became the scene of active hostilities.

On March 14, the educational process began to resume in areas where the security situation allowed it.

Children who live far from the hostilities zone and did not move to other regions of Ukraine or abroad during the war are enrolled in full-time, distance, or mixed forms of education.

However, due to prolonged air raids and power outages of several hours, the educational process in the safe areas is also interrupted. After all, when teachers and students are in a shelter during an air raid or without electricity and, accordingly, high-quality Internet, participants in the educational process cannot continue either full-time or distance learning at this time. Therefore, students spend a significant portion of their school time studying on their own. All this only exacerbates educational losses.

Students, who have been forced to change their place of residence within Ukraine, sometimes even repeatedly, experience interruptions in their education and educational losses. For internally displaced students, one of the biggest challenges is adapting to a new environment and integrating into a new educational institution and establishing communication with teachers and peers. Loss or separation from loved ones, separation from friends, change of residence, stress from the events experienced, because someone left the very “center of hell” – all this causes psychological stress for the child.

One of the most difficult is the situation with children living in the hostilities zone or on the contact line or close to the hostilities zone. There is currently no information on the number of such children who remain close to these zones.

Children in these territories are in constant danger, under fire, forced to hide in basements or other safe places as far as possible. There is often no communication, electricity, gas, water, or heat supply in these areas, some of the houses are destroyed, and children have no more or less equipped shelter or refuge. Therefore, the main thing here is to preserve the lives and health of children, and the educational process should be implemented whenever possible – and only in those forms that do not expose children to additional danger. Some children do not study at all, while others study independently where possible. Therefore, this group of children will suffer the greatest educational losses. At the same time, as we have already noted, children in difficult life circumstances also need special attention.

Each group of students has two common problems. These are educational losses, which are different for all groups of students, because it is clear that children who live far from the combat zone and have not changed their place of residence will have less educational losses than other children. Therefore, each educational institution and each community should have an individual strategy for compensating for educational losses, as well as a general state Ukrainian strategy for compensating for educational losses.

Another common problem is the need for psychological assistance to all groups of students, the level of which will also vary depending on the circumstances experienced by the child.

Fear and hope in eastern Ukraine: education in the shadow of conflict. Photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid on Flickr.

Access to education requires

First, education in times of war is an important topic that requires cooperation between government agencies, aid organizations, and the international community to maximize educational opportunities and protect children in such difficult circumstances. Cooperation with local organizations, social workers, and independent experts is needed to ensure that educational opportunities for children are adapted and accessible.

Secondly, to ensure access to education during war, it is necessary to provide sufficient financial resources, appropriate infrastructure and equipment.

Thirdly, it is important to remember that education in time of war is not limited to learning with books. Children need a variety of educational opportunities, including social and emotional support, cultural activities, and access to media and technology.

Fourth, education should be adapted to the situation of war and meet the needs of children to help them adapt to life in difficult circumstances in the future.

And most importantly, one of the key aspects of education in times of war is ensuring the safety of children and teachers. During war, schools are often targeted, resulting in loss of life and destruction of equipment. Schools need to be secured to protect the lives of children and teachers and ensure the continuity of the educational process.                                              

In addition, education in time of war should be accessible to all children, regardless of their social status or religious affiliation. War-related migration and unequal access to education can lead to discrimination and exclusion of some children. It is necessary to ensure accessible and equal educational opportunities for all children to prevent discrimination and ensure equal chances for all children in the future. This requires cooperation with local organizations, social workers, and independent experts to develop and implement strategies to ensure that education is accessible to all children during war.

Students in Ukraine engage in leisure activities. Photo by UNICEF Ukraine.

Conclusions

For sure, war has a significant negative impact on education, but with the right efforts and support, it is possible to mitigate these effects and help children in the future. Of course, many students do not have access to educational programs or the opportunity to join online learning. Those students who have traveled abroad face language problems and struggle to adapt to a different learning system.

Despite the fact that every student was in a terrible and difficult situation, the educational process resumed in spite of everything.

References
https://texty.org.ua/fragments/108683/yak-vijna-vplyvaye-na-ukrayinskyh-shkolyariv-doslidzhennya/

https://eo.gov.ua/de-i-iak-navchaiutsia-ukrainski-dity-v-chasy-viyny-problemy-propozytsii-rekomendatsii/2022/11/16/

https://lb.ua/blog/olena_vyshniakova/543064_osvita_pid_chas_viyni_shcho_zminilosya_i_yak.html

Education challenges in Guatemala

Written by Chiara Tomatis

Guatemala is a lower-middle-income country, representing the largest economy in Central America and accounting for 25% of the GDP of the Central American Common Market (CACM). Moreover, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its June 2019 report, confirmed that the country’s geographic and demographic characteristics allow it to have great potential for economic development. Another important factor, is that Guatemala is the most densely populated country in Central America, with a population of around 17 million[1], characterized by extreme youthfulness: one-third are under 15 years old, just under two-thirds are between 15 and 65 years old, and only 5.6% are over 65 years old[2]. Education in Guatemala has become increasingly accessible; however, low levels of literacy, educational attainment and retention remain as fundamental problems. Furthermore, there is a great disparity between rural and urban areas, men and women, and between indigenous and landina populations the biggest ethnic group. Some of the educational challenges that Guatemala is facing are limited access to education, poor quality of education, language barriers, poverty, gender inequality and violence.

Children in their classroom in El Renacimiento school, in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. Photo by Maria Fleischmann / World Bank on Flickr.

Limited access to education

A significant percentage of the Guatemalan population lives in rural areas, where access to education is limited due to inadequate infrastructure, teacher shortages and high costs. The population density in rural areas is motivated by the importance of the agricultural sector in the country, a characteristic of which is dual production. For example, the presence of large and efficient farms that produce bananas, oil palm, sugar along with other products for export, and small producers focused on the cultivation of basic cereals. This characterizes Guatemala as the Central American country with the largest number of subsistence farmers, about one million[3], leading to approximately 49% of the Guatemalan population living in rural areas. Some of them facing with the challenge of lacking basic resources, such as textbooks and teaching materials.

Language barriers

Guatemala is a multicultural land with a diverse population that includes many ethnic groups and has experienced an exponential increase in its inhabitants. Multiculturalism is a further prerequisite for the demographic conformation of the country. The Guatemalan population is diverse and includes 23 different ethnic groups, each of which has a distinct language and culture. The largest ethnic group is the Ladino group, which is formed by 56% of the population. They are generally non-indigenous Guatemalans, mestizos, and westernized Amerindians with western culture. About 42% of the inhabitants, 6.5 million people, belong to the numerous Maya people (among the most important are the Itzá, K’iche, Poqomchí, Q’anjob’al and Q’eqchi’)[4]. Moreover, it is steadily decreasing due to the so-called “Ladinisation” process, which refers to the phenomenon whereby Western culture is adopted by members of indigenous societies, who cease to identify themselves culturally as “indigenous”.

Tz’utuhil Maya class at a school in Panabaj, Guatemala. Photo by Erik Törner on Flickr.

However, disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in terms of employment, income, health services and education remain. In Guatemala, racism and discrimination persist against these inhabitants who, although an integral part of the country’s society and economy, have no representation at the political level. In addition, many of these indigenous communities speak Mayan languages, which are not widely spoken outside these communities. This language barrier can make it difficult for children to learn in school, especially if they are taught in Spanish, the country’s official language. This discrimination also affects poverty levels in the country which impact 75% of indigenous people and 36% of non-indigenous people[5].

Poverty

Poverty is a significant obstacle to education in Guatemala, which as it turns out afflicts indigenous peoples the most, accentuating inequality. With 59% of the Guatemalan population living in poverty, mainly affecting rural areas where the most indigenous populations are located.

One indicator of current inequality is the GINI indicator, which in 2014 recorded a GINI coefficient of 48.3, the sixth highest in Latin America[6].

Families living in poverty often cannot afford to send their children to school or must rely on their children working to help support the family. Furthermore, although the economy is growing, the number of people living in poverty is increasing and social and economic inequalities are growing[7].

Gender inequality

Today, nationally, 81.5% of the population is literate, through it is possible to highlight a clear gender inequality. Although 51.5% of citizens are women and 48.5% are men, literacy is 78% and 85% respectively, both figures decrease in rural areas[8]. There may be many reasons for this, with cultural background and beliefs playing a primary role.

Violence and insecurity

The country is severely affected by the inequalities, violence and corruption that have historically affected the country. This directly and significantly impacts the education system; the high levels of violence have led to several critical issues that make it difficult for children and young people to access education and receive a quality education. The main critical issues are the vulnerability of young citizens to violence, a shortage of qualified educators/teachers who have decided to migrate or work in areas with less crime, and the negative impact this has had on the physical infrastructure of schools, leading to a lack of adequate spaces. This situation leads to an increased general sense of insecurity and instability that affects the social and economic development of the country.

Despite today’s critical issues, the Guatemalan administration has improved school coverage in recent decades. Since the peace accords of 1996, all administrations have supported the expansion of primary schooling and since 2006 the net enrollment rate at this level has averaged 95 per cent. Guatemala came close to achieving universal coverage in 2009 when the net enrolment rate at the primary level was 99%[9]. Since that year, however, Guatemala has suffered a slight setback (Figure 1). The reasons for this decrease require a deeper analysis of factors such as migration, climate change, the impact of social programs and demographic elements[10].

Nevertheless, overall, significant progress has been made in the expansion of educational provision, and the increase in net primary school enrollment is almost double the increase in population at the beginning of the 21st century[11].

In order to counter the limited access to education in rural areas, the low quality of education, the gender gap and racism present in this sector, the Guatemalan government can take several measures. Firstly, an increase in funding could be requested, the government could allocate more resources to increase quality, increasing the presence of facilities in rural areas and ensuring more resources for students and teachers. Building facilities in rural areas would improve access to education for all its citizens, limiting the inequality between Landini and indigenous people.

However, this effort in this area should be complemented by major efforts to address poverty, gender inequality and violence. Addressing these issues is therefore crucial to improving the overall education system and creating a brighter future for the country’s children and youth. This effort will be necessary and will need the full cooperation of the government, civil society, and international partners.

References:

Guerra Morales N.M., Rivas A.L., (Septiembre 2019). XII Censo Nacional de Población y VII de Vivienda – Principales resultados censo 2018, Insituto Nacional de Estadística Guatemala.

INE Guatemala, (2016).“República de Guatemala: Encuesta Nacional de “Condiciones de Vida 2014. Tomo I. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, República de Guatemala.

Mamo D., Berger D.N., Bulanin N., Alix L.G., Jensen W.M., (April 2022). The Indigenous World 2022, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), 36th Edition.

Minority Rights Group International(MRG), (January 2018). World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. Guatemala and Maya.

Spross de Riviera V., and Abascal M., Guatemala: El efecto de las políticas públicas docentes, Inter-American Dialogue/CIEN, 2015).

United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), (2021). The Outlook for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Americas.

UNESCO-OREALC, Balance de los 20 años del Proyecto Principal de Educación en América Latina y el Caribe, Santiago de Chile, UNESCO, 2001.

World Bank, (2019). Guatemala Overview 2019.


[1] INE Guatemala, (2016).“República de Guatemala: Encuesta Nacional de “Condiciones de Vida 2014. Tomo I. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, República de Guatemala

[2] Guerra Morales N.M., Rivas A.L., (septiembre 2019). XII Censo Nacional de Población y VII de Vivienda – Principales resultados censo 2018, Insituto Nacional de Estadística Guatemala, pp. 9-13

[3] United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), (2021). The Outlook for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Americas, pp. 20-30.

[4] Minority Rights Group International (MRG), (January 2018). World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. Guatemala and Maya.

[5] Mamo D., Berger D.N., Bulanin N., Alix L.G., Jensen W.M., (April 2022). The Indigenous World 2022, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), 36th Edition, pp. 402-411.

[6] World Bank, (2019). Guatemala Overview 2019.

[7] World Bank, (2019). Guatemala Overview 2019.

[8] Guerra Morales N.M., Rivas A.L., (septiembre 2019). XII Censo Nacional de Población y VII de Vivienda – Principales resultados censo 2018, Insituto Nacional de Estadística Guatemala, pp. 13.

[9] Spross de Riviera V., and Abascal M., Guatemala: El efecto de las políticas públicas docentes, Inter-American Dialogue/CIEN, 2015).

[10] Spross de Riviera V., and Abascal M., Guatemala: El efecto de las políticas públicas docentes, Inter-American Dialogue/CIEN, 2015).

[11] UNESCO-OREALC, Balance de los 20 años del Proyecto Principal de Educación en América Latina y el Caribe, Santiago de Chile, UNESCO, 2001.

Educational Challenges in Eritrea: Navigating Historical Context and Current Issues

Written by Joseph Kamanga

Education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of individuals and societies. In the case of Eritrea, a country with a complex history and a strong desire for progress, the educational landscape reflects both the challenges inherited from the past and the contemporary issues faced by its education system. By examining the historical context and the current challenges, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the obstacles that Eritrea must overcome to ensure equitable and quality education for its population.

Children waiting to go to class. Photo by Merhawi147

Historical Background

Eritrea’s educational system has evolved over time, deeply influenced by its colonial history and the struggle for independence. Under Italian colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, education was limited to a privileged few, primarily aimed at serving the interests of the colonial administration. This approach excluded the majority of Eritreans from accessing quality education, perpetuating inequities.

After World War II, Eritrea came under British administration and later federated with Ethiopia in 1952. During this period, educational opportunities remained limited and largely inaccessible to the broader population. However, the armed struggle for independence led by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) brought about significant changes. The EPLF established underground schools, known as “ma’htot,” which focused on preserving Eritrean identity, culture, and language. This movement laid the foundation for a more inclusive and culturally relevant education system.

Current Challenges

Inequitable Access to Education

One of the most pressing challenges in Eritrea is inequitable access to education. Geographical factors pose significant barriers, particularly in remote and rural areas. Limited infrastructure and transportation hinder the establishment and maintenance of schools, making it difficult for children to access education. For example, in the Gash Barka region, located in the western part of the country, the lack of schools and the long distances students have to travel to get to school prevent many children from attending classes regularly. Similarly, in the Southern region, children from nomadic communities face difficulties in accessing formal education due to their transient lifestyle and the absence of educational facilities in their migratory routes.

Economic Constraints and Affordability

Economic factors further exacerbate the challenges in the education system. Poverty, particularly prevalent in rural areas, makes it challenging for families to afford school-related expenses such as uniforms, books, and transportation costs. The financial burden restricts access to education, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations and perpetuating cycles of poverty and inequality. For instance, in the Anseba region, impoverished families struggle to cover essential educational expenses, leading to higher dropout rates among children from low-income backgrounds. Similarly, in urban areas such as Asmara, high living costs make it difficult for families to allocate sufficient resources for education, hindering access to quality schooling.

Gender Disparities

Eritrea faces gender disparities in access to education. Deep-rooted cultural norms and expectations often prioritize boys’ education over girls’, leading to lower enrollment rates for girls. Early marriage and assigned domestic responsibilities limit girls’ educational opportunities. Early marriage is prevalent in some areas, such as the Debub region, and girls are often forced to drop out of school at a young age, hindering their educational advancement. Furthermore, societal perceptions of traditional gender roles contribute to girls’ limited educational and career opportunities, constraining their full potential and undermining efforts to achieve gender equality in education.

The cloister of the Catholic Cathedral in Asmara hosts a large school. Photo by David Stanley.
Quality of Education

The quality of education in Eritrea is a significant concern. Insufficient numbers of qualified teachers, especially in rural areas, contribute to inadequate learning experiences. Teachers’ lack of professional development opportunities further hampers their ability to deliver quality instruction. The absence of essential resources such as textbooks, learning materials, and proper infrastructure also impacts the overall learning environment. In the Maekel region, for example, overcrowded classrooms and a shortage of trained teachers compromise the quality of education and hinder students’ learning outcomes.

Limited Access to Higher Education

Access to higher education is limited in Eritrea. The scarcity of universities and highly competitive admission processes restrict the number of students who can pursue tertiary education. This limitation impedes the development of a skilled workforce and hampers the country’s progress towards a knowledge-based economy. For instance, in the Central region, where the capital city Asmara is located, the few available spots in universities cannot accommodate the growing number of qualified students seeking higher education, leading to a significant gap between the demand and supply of tertiary education opportunities.

Conclusion

The educational challenges in Eritrea are deeply rooted in historical factors and compounded by current issues. Inequitable access, economic constraints, gender disparities, poor quality of education, and limited access to higher education continue to hinder the development and progress of the country’s education system. These challenges require urgent attention and comprehensive solutions. By addressing the underlying causes, investing in infrastructure, promoting gender equality, and improving the quality of education, Eritrea can pave the way for a more inclusive and effective education system that empowers its citizens and supports the country’s long-term development goals.

References

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Eritrea: Education Sector Review: https://www.er.undp.org/content/eritrea/en/home/library/poverty/education-sector-review.html

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – https://www.unicef.org/eritrea/education

World Bank – Education in Eritrea: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/eritrea/publication/education-in-eritrea 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – Eritrea: https://en.unesco.org/countries/eritrea Human Rights Watch – Eritrea: https://www.hrw.org/africa/eritrea

Educational Challenges in Ethiopia

Written by Joseph Kamanga

Ethiopia is a country in East Africa with a population of over 100 million people. The country has made significant progress in expanding access to education over the past few decades. However, despite these efforts, the education system in Ethiopia faces several challenges, which have hindered its ability to provide quality education to all students. In this article, we will explore some of the major challenges facing the education system in Ethiopia.

Children engaging with apps and tablets. Photo by Beyond Access.

Access to Education

Access to education is a major challenge in Ethiopia, particularly in rural areas. The country has made significant progress in expanding access to education, with primary school enrollment rates increasing from 20% in 1991 to over 90% in recent years. However, access to education remains limited in rural areas, where schools are often underfunded and understaffed, and students may have to travel long distances to attend school.

To address this challenge, the Ethiopian government has introduced policies aimed at expanding access to education in rural areas. For example, the government has introduced programs to build more schools in rural areas, provide free textbooks to students, and provide school meals to students.

Inflexibility of the curriculum

As researchers in the field of special needs and inclusive education advocate the rights of children with special needs to education, the curriculum that should be adopted should be inclusive by specifying minimum requirements for all learners. The special educational, social, emotional, and physical needs of learners will be addressed if the curriculum developers consider children with disability  during its design and development. Curriculum adaptations do not only benefit students with disabilities, but also facilitate successful learning for all learners in acquiring mastery of context. For many students with disabilities and for many without the key to success in the classroom lies in having appropriate adaptations, accommodations and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities.

However, research findings show that in some instances, curriculum is further found to be inflexible, especially with regard to the design and management of timetables. For instance, the timetables most often do not take care of Children with disability yet. In ideal situations, a child with special needs might need more time to accomplish the same assignment that can be done by a non- disabled person.

Children with disability could not receive quality education. This in turn indicates the extent to which our training institutions have deep-rooted problems . Teachers were not well trained in such way that they could teach those students who have a different ability and background. Being proficient in Braille and sign language were not sufficient and organized for in-service trainees. Even those teachers who have trained in special needs and inclusive education were not well equipped in skills of Braille and sign.

Quality training is one of basic ingredients for quality inclusive education. However, teachers’ training has basic problems in educating children according to their specific needs. Children with disability were not receiving quality education. For this, poor teachers’ training and shortage of trained teachers reciprocally have contributed to the delivery of poor quality education for Children with Disability. Though there were few teachers who have been graduated  in special needs and inclusive education, the training in which they have passed did not enable them to be efficient in teaching.

Language

Ethiopia being a multilingual nation faces many challenges in terms of communication which directly affects the education system and curriculum at large. The educational policy seems to be snared in the ideology of ethnic politics that was formally introduced in 1991, with the support of Ethiopian’s constitution after TPLF took power.

This new policy envisaged an education system that made students multilingual but the local languages are to be offered only on the basis of parental preference. The policy states that English language is to be offered from Grade 1 while Ethiopia’s Federal Working Language, like Amharic , is only to be offered after grade 3 and based on the preferences of parents.

Despite the above measures on the language barrier, regional  states have retained power in dictating what language students should use in schools. However after Grade 9 the medium will be strictly English. This has been authorized by the Federal Ministry of Education. In related development, the council of Ministers passed a decision that is believed to make universities more autonomous by authorizing and generating their own income and provide multi-faceted service to the public.

Young Women Students on the Boulevard – Axum (Aksum) – Ethiopia. Photo by Adam Jones.

Ignorance of stakeholders about children’s right to education

As it is believed, stakeholders of education are parents, children in schools, teachers, school principals and supervisors, experts, and officers in the education system. However, there is such discrepancy among stakeholders of education regarding the right of children with disability to education. Whereas, others stakeholders could not recognize the right of children to education fully. The inaccessibility of Education Bureau itself, insufficient budget allocation and unavailability sign language interpreters in schools could be evidence to the extent to which the education system was ignorant of the right of children with disability to education.

Quality of Education

Another major challenge facing the education system in Ethiopia is the quality of education. While the country has made significant progress in expanding access to education, the quality of education remains low, particularly in rural areas. Students in Ethiopia often struggle with basic literacy and numeracy skills, and the country’s education system has been criticized for being rote-based and lacking in creativity.

To address this challenge, the Ethiopian government has introduced policies aimed at improving the quality of education. For example, the government has introduced policies aimed at improving the training and professional development of teachers, promoting the use of technology in education, and improving the curriculum.

However, these efforts have faced challenges, including a lack of resources and infrastructure to support these initiatives.

Infrastructure Gap

The infrastructure gap is another significant challenge facing the education system in Ethiopia. More than 85% of Ethiopians live in rural areas where the infrastructure is not yet well constructed. As a result, houses are dispersed, schools are far-flung, and the topography is full of blockages. Pathways from home to schools are cliffy. With all these, children with motor and visual disabilities particularly have encountered difficulty primarily to go school to the worst to integrate themselves with non-disabled children in school activities.

Infrastructure together with pathways to classroom, offices, guidance, and counselors challenged students with disabilities not to come to school and not to have active participation in the learning process as well. Less restricted environment could enhance the realization of inclusion of Children with Disability. To the opposite of the above fact, however, most pathways are cliffy, ridge and sloppy. To jump such ways was a difficult task  for students with physical and visual disabilities as most of the participants of FGD were of the same mind.

Many schools in Ethiopia lack basic infrastructure, such as classrooms, libraries, and toilets. This infrastructure gap can have a significant impact on the quality of education, with overcrowded classrooms and inadequate facilities hindering students’ ability to learn.

Personnel in the education system pointed out that buildings in most mainstream schools were not constructed with people with disabilities in mind. As it was clearly indicated in the findings, the poor infrastructure together with pathways to classroom, offices, guidance, and counselors, challenged students with disabilities not to come to school and not to have active participation in the learning process as well. Entirely, the primary schools had full of up and down topography, the inclusion of children with mobility impairment had been at its challenge. As a result, the observable fact was that provision of infrastructure seems challenging for the implementers.

To address this challenge, the Ethiopian government has introduced policies aimed at improving the infrastructure in schools. For example, the government has introduced programs to build more schools, renovate existing schools, and provide basic infrastructure, such as toilets and water supply, to schools. However, infrastructure development in Ethiopia faces challenges, including limited resources and inadequate funding for infrastructure development.

Shortage of teachers in special needs education

Teachers, who are trained in special needs, could facilitate the implementation of inclusion of children with disability. To do this, their number should be enough to provide professional support for general education teachers and students with disabilities themselves. However, to contrary, the country is not able to train special needs and inclusive education teachers adequately to meet the demand. Factors that hindered the implementation of inclusive education were the inadequacy of teachers who have trained in special needs and inclusive education. To ensure the realization of inclusion of children with disability, either the general education teachers should have training or special needs and inclusive education teachers should assist them in the classroom.

Ethiopians are agrarians; there is job allotment among householders. As a result, the one looks after the cattle, the other harvests, still the other collects firewood, even the other may fetch water. With all these, hunting schools that have special classes, taking and returning the child with disabilities to these schools subsequently, is  a task that might have no owner . Therefore, the only harsh choice was to hide their child with disability at home.

In the towns, though there are abundant commercial schools, since hiring special needs and inclusive education teachers is costly, and not to enroll children with disability has legal impeachment, they enroll the children with disability and ‘dump’ them without any special support in their compounds. Significantly, the insufficient number of teachers of special needs and inclusive education has hampered the integration of children with disability in to the regular schools.

The shortage of trained and qualified teachers is another significant challenge facing the education system in Ethiopia. The country has a shortage of teachers, particularly in rural areas, where many teachers are untrained and lack the necessary qualifications to teach effectively.

To address this challenge, the Ethiopian government has introduced policies aimed at increasing the number of trained teachers in the country. For example, the government has introduced policies aimed at recruiting more teachers, providing training and professional development for teachers, and improving the salaries and working conditions of teachers.

Teacher training students on technology use. Photo by One Laptop per Child.

Family income/poverty

Most Ethiopians are weak in their income to educate their children. According to previous research done as per the references, the economic factor  could be another factor to educate their children and mostly children with disability in the regular school. Most parents of children in every family member in Ethiopian rural areas have economic engagement. For instance, some are shepherds, some others are farmers, still others collect firewood, and there are also others who accomplish home activities. However, when disability happens to one of those family members, he/she will be dependent on the rest to get daily food. With all this, taking that disabled child to school would be another burden to the family. Then, the choice of the family had to be either to sit the child at home or give for charity organization.

Since disability is a common and heart-breaking phenomenon, it further impoverishes families in need. As a result, not only lack of awareness and the negative attitude of the family, but living from hand-to-mouth caused the society as a whole to hinder children with disability from being included in regular school.

Curriculum Development

The curriculum is a crucial aspect of the education system and plays a significant role in shaping the learning outcomes of students. However, the Ethiopian curriculum has faced criticisms for being outdated, rigid, and lacking relevance to the needs of students and the country’s economy.

To address this challenge, based on the report from ENA, a state owned media, the council of ministers did see undesirable shortcomings of the ongoing system and believed that it did not encourage indigenous knowledge, did not encourage innovation and technology. Thus the Ethiopian government has introduced policies aimed at revising and updating the curriculum. On this not the prime minister of that time Hon. Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet believed that the new curriculum and training policy will bring about changes in terms of addressing the problems from the old system.

The government has introduced a new curriculum framework that emphasizes competency-based education, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. This new curriculum policy introduced a 6-2-4 system, six years in elementary education, two years of junior school education and four years of high school education.

The new curriculum framework also emphasizes the development of vocational and entrepreneurial skills, which are seen as critical to addressing the country’s unemployment challenges. However, the implementation of the new curriculum framework has faced challenges, including a lack of resources and infrastructure to support the new approach.

Lack of guideline to implement inclusive education

Beyond doubt, teachers and schools at grassroots level, and education heads at the top together require guidelines to let them see how to implement inclusive education. However, issuing the document was not a simple task for Ethiopian education system. One of inclusive policy documents is having prepared a guideline of inclusive education to implement it effectively. Subsequently, if no guideline which leads how to implement inclusive education, the process would be subjected to personal interpretation. The above evidence indicates the extent to which experts and school supervisors were not clear about guideline and strategic plan. The strategic plan may help the education system to check and balance the goal that they were supposed to achieve with the plan that they had already scheduled. If the country had guideline of inclusive education, it would help stakeholders of education to demystify the wrong perception that the stakeholders possessed and would give them clear direction about the implementation of inclusive education.

Ethiopia is one of the multi-ethnic nations in Africa. As a result, the country is exercising multilingual curriculum. No matter how the country has multi-ethnic groups, issuing guidelines of inclusive education would not be costly when it is compared with the benefits that it could bring quality, equity and social justice in our education system. More than its cost, lack of commitment among political leaders has also delayed the endorsement of inclusive guidelines. Although the  country had designed strategic plan of special needs and inclusive education system in 2006 and 2012, this was meant for the purpose of country relief, unfortunately it did not work for all the regions.

Inadequate provision of adapted school materials

Despite measures to adopt an inclusive education policy for all groups, school directors were not willing to include children with disability in the regular schools with reason of shortage of adapted materials. From the previous studies done, it is not only lack of awareness that prevailed among school administration but also shortage of adapted teaching material for students with disabilities. Hence, education experts and school supervisors in common remarked poor provision of special needs equipment as a main challenge to implement inclusion.

Further, The Ministry  of Education and Regional Education Bureaus did not develop a mechanism which could enable them to monitor the schools that have/have not registered a child with disability. At the same time, the bureaus have budget insufficiency. As a result, they could not facilitate even those few schools with slate and stylus, Braille, paper, Braille textbooks, hearing aids, sign language books, wheelchairs and other adapted and modified materials with explanation of budgetary problems. As a result, insufficient provision of adapted school materials has been identified as one of challenges of inclusion of children with disability in to the regular schools. Owing to this fact, students with visual impairment were obliged to learn with no Braille. School supervision reports also tell as the group was attending lessons by listening. Children with hearing impairment had also school attendance with their physical presence

Conclusion

In conclusion, Ethiopia faces significant challenges in its education system, including limited access to education, low quality of education, infrastructure gaps, teacher shortages, and outdated curriculum. While the government has introduced policies aimed at addressing these challenges, there is a need for more concerted efforts to improve the education system in the country. This could include increased investment in education, improved teacher training and support, better infrastructure development, and more relevant and up-to-date curriculum development.

As the reports of the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia, more people affected in the educational system of the country are children with disability who have no access to education yet. Even the majority of those children with disability, who had access to education, were in a fuzzy educational setting. With this, the mode of education to educate children with disability is not marked out clearly. As a result, the education system has faced challenges  to achieve EFA. To ensure inclusion, therefore, identifying the barriers and suggest panacea has a paramount importance to reverse the situation. Theoretically, ecology of human development guided the study to investigate challenges that Ethiopia faced to implement inclusive education.  By addressing these challenges, Ethiopia can work towards providing quality education to all its citizens and improving its socio-economic prospects.

References:

United Nations Development Programme (2019). Ethiopia: Education. Retrieved from http://www.et.undp.org/content/ethiopia/en/home/countryinfo.html

World Bank (2021). Education in Ethiopia. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ethiopia/brief/education-in-ethiopia

GEBEYEHU, A. M. (2017). Quality of Education in Ethiopia: From the Perspective of Learners, Teachers and Parents. Journal of Education and Practice, 8(10), 76-85.

World Bank (2018). Ethiopia Education Sector Development Program V: 2015-2020. Retrieved from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/180601551693773672/Ethiopia-Education-Sector-Development-Program-V-2015-2020

Ethiopian Ministry of Education (2015). Education Sector Development Plan V: 2015-2020. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.et/web/guest/-/education-sector-development-plan-v-2015-2020

African Development Bank Group (2018). Ethiopia Country Strategy Paper 2016-2020. Retrieved from https://www.afdb.org/en/documents/document/ethiopia-country-strategy-paper-2016-2020-106665

International Labour Organization (2016). Youth Employment in Ethiopia: An Overview. Retrieved from https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/documents/publication/wcms_528826.pdf

The World Factbook (2021). Ethiopia. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/ethiopia/

Tessema, W. K. (2019). The Ethiopian Education System: Current Trends and Future Directions. International Journal of Innovative Research and Development, 8(12), 76-84.

Mohammed, A. (2018). Challenges and Prospects of Education in Ethiopia: A Literature Review. Journal of Education and Practice, 9(1), 21-26