Primary and Secondary Schools

The Ministry of Education (MoE) provides some indication of achievements in the five years from 2008/9 to 2012/13 although statistics do depend upon the accuracy of data collected. Primary school enrolment has increased substantially but only about half of those enrolled manage to complete both cycles. There are a large number of over-age children enrolling for grade 1 although this has been declining. This is shown by the difference between gross intake rate (GIR) and net intake rate (NIR). GIR is the percentage of children enrolled for grade 1, regardless of age, out of the population of the appropriate age of 7 years. NIR is the percentage of children of appropriate age out of the population of that age.

In 2008/09, GIR was 162.5% (boys = 169.4%; girls = 144.1%) and NIR was 82.2% (boys = 84.3; girls = 80.1%).
In 2012/13, GIR was 144.1% (boys = 150.2%; girls = 137.8%) and NIR was 95.5% (boys = 97.9%; girls = 93.0%).
Problems are indicated by repetition rates, drop out rates and low completion rates. Repetition rates remained much the same but drop out rates increased.

In 2007/08, repetition rates for grades 1 to 8 were 6.7% (boys = 7.0%; girls = 6.3%) and in 2012/13, they were 7.9% (boys = 8.1%; girls = 7.7%). In 2012/13, repetition rates were highest for grades 1, 5 and 8.

In 2007/08, drop out rates from grades 1 to 8 were 14.6% (boys = 15.9%; girls = 13.2%) and in 2012/13, they were 16.1% (boys = 16.2%; girls = 16.0%).

In 2007/08, the survival rate to grade 5 was 49.2% (boys = 45.8%; girls = 53.3%) and in 2012/13, it was 50.7% (boys = 49.6%; girls = 39.1%).

Completion rates for grade 5 varied around 70% and 80% but completion rates for grade 8 have improved from 43.6% to 52.8% with near parity between boys and girls. There were regional differences in grade 8 completion rates.

In 2012/13, lowest completion rates were in Afar (16.4%) and Somali (15.9%) followed by Oromiya (43.5%). About 80% of children sitting the grade 8 exam passed to grade 9.

Most children are not going to secondary school and differences between gross enrolment ration (GER) and net enrolment ratio (NER) indicate that many of these children are over-age. GER is the percentage of children enrolled out of the population of appropriate age. NER is the percentage of children of appropriate age out of the population of that age.

In 2008/09, GER was 38.1% (boys =43.7%; girls = 32.4%) and NER was 13.5% (boys = 15.0%; girls = 11.9%).
In 2012/13, GER was 38.4% (boys = 39.9%; girls = 36.9%) and NER was 19.4% (boys = 18.8%; girls = 20.1%).
From all children registered for the grade 10 exam, the percentage scoring the pass mark of 2 or more increased from 42.6% in 2008/09 to 70.1% in 2012/13 with girls increasing from 32.2% to 61.9%.

A very small proportion of children attend the second cycle of secondary school. Between 2008/09 and 2012/13, GER increased from 6.0% to 9.5% with girls increasing from 3.5% to 8.5%. From all children registered for the grade 12 exam in 2012/13, 91.7% attained the pass mark of 201 or more but only 1.7% attained 501 or more.

Access and demand
There have been improvements in access to primary schools while alternative basic education and innovations such as mobile schools are helping to reach disadvantaged groups and remote rural areas. Between 2008/09 and 2012/13,the number of primary schools increased from 25,212 to 30,534. More primary schools need to be built to reach the government target, especially in Somali Region, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region (SNNPR), Oromia, Gambela Region and Benishangul-Gumuz. Between 2008/09 and 2012/13, the number of secondary schools increased from 1,197 to 1,912 but Harari Region, Afar Region, and Dire Dawa have very few.

The small number of secondary schools means that many children who do complete primary school have no access to secondary schools.

Not all parents can afford to send their children to school. Parents may need to pay for clothes, books, transport and school fees. In 1994, school fees for grades 1 to 10 were officially abolished but hidden costs remained. Other costs include loss of children's wages or unpaid labour for agriculture, tending livestock or housework. Whether children work depends on relative household wealth. Labour-intensive assets such as farms can hire labour if they generate sufficient profit but poorer households may need their children to help with these assets. This can relate to family size, with larger families sending their younger children to school because older children can help their parents. Attendance is reduced when children have to travel long distances to school since this increases personal risk and transport costs. There are also cultural attitudes against educating girls since education will only benefit her husband's household.

The first cycle of primary education concentrates on functional literacy while the second cycle is preparation for secondary education. In principle, the curriculum aims to link theory with practice in real life and to use a problem solving approach. Primary education includes: Languages (mother tongue, Amharic), English, Mathematics, Environmental science, Natural science (Physics, Chemistry and Biology in grades 7 and 8), Social science (grades 5 to 8) and Aesthetic education. Secondary school (grades 9 to 10) continues subjects taken in primary school: English and a national language, Mathematics, Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology), Social sciences (Civic education, Geography and History) and Physical education.

The secondary school second cycle (grades 11 and 12) continues the Natural Science and Social science streams. Common subjects are English, Mathematics, Economics and Physical education while electives are a national language and foreign language (other than English) and a science course for the Social science stream.

Universities used to have a freshman year to prepare students for a degree but now schools are expected to prepare students. This has had a knock-on effect of moving the freshman programs down to grades 11 and 12 and programs for grades 11 to 12 down to grades 9 and 10. The grade 9 to 10 curriculum is now equivalent to grades 11 and 12 in many other countries and it covers more subjects than most other countries require for university.

The World Bank considers that the curriculum should change from its focus on a few high levels achievers to education for all. Curriculum content differentiation should start in grades 9 and 10 and undergo further differentiation in grades 11 and 12 to provide alternatives to university. There should be continued expansion and improvement of quality in both primary and secondary education to prepare students for different career options in the growing economy. This should take priority over expanding university education. Primary and secondary education should be laying the foundation for lifelong learning by promoting metacognitive skills such as reading meaningfully, learning how to learn, group learning, real understanding, cognitive restructuring and information retrieval.

Quality of teaching
Teaching is undervalued and underpaid as a profession and this was not helped by the selection procedure. Prior to 2010, students with lower achievement at grade 10 could go to a Teacher Training Institute (TTI) or a College of Teacher's Education (CTE) for a certificate or diploma. If students passed the EHEEE, education faculties took students with lower GPAs than other faculties. Teaching is hard work with high mean pupil/teacher ratios in primary schools and many operating a double shift. Many teachers lack motivation and 60% would move to another job if given the opportunity.

Teacher pay starts at about the same level as other civil service jobs but after two years teachers earn less than their civil service counterparts. There are seven salary rungs from beginner to senior lead after 17 years of service. In 2012, the salary scale for primary school teachers went from 1,172 Birr to 3,499 Birr. In 2012, 100 Birr was worth about £3.50 or $5.50. Somali region pays 30% of the salary as an allowance for working in remote areas and Addis Ababa pays up to 10% for a housing allowance. There are no incentives for good performance.

The Regional Educational Bureau (REB) allocated teachers to Woredas which then assigned them to schools. School directors played no part in teacher selection. New teachers were often sent to remote areas where they were isolated and women teachers were vulnerable to harmful local traditions such as abduction for marriage, sexual assault and rape. Teachers complained about poor management which was often authoritarian rather than democratic. School director appointments were not seen to be based on merit and, in some cases, were clearly political. Political appointees were more involved in politics than the school and were often absent on political duties.

Between 2006/7 and 2010/11, national learning assessments (NLA) showed some improvement in percentages of children obtaining basic level proficiency in grades 4 and 8. Grade 4 increased from 41% to 43% and grade 8 increased from 37% to 44%. In 2008/09, 63.7% of grade 10 and 55.2% of grade 12 were performing below basic level. By 2011/12, poor performance showed some decrease, although percentages varied between subjects. In 2010, an early grade reading assessment for mother tongue found regional differences between 10% and 70% of grade 2 children unable to read and 90% of grade 3 children below the expected oral reading fluency rate. Low reading ability related to accessibility of a language textbook or other reading material.

The government aimed to provide each pupil with a textbook but the reality was a severe shortage of textbooks and other teaching materials. Consequently, teaching was usually "talk and chalk" with rote learning. Secondary schools may have a plasma television to receive the national curriculum in 60% of subjects but its success has been limited since it depends on electricity supply, good teacher facilitation and supply of textbooks. School libraries tend to be under-stocked or stocked with inappropriate books from international donations.

Plasma lessons are broadcast in English for 35 minutes from Addis Ababa. Standard lesson time is 45 minutes, leaving teachers with 10 minutes for an introduction and post-discussion. Transmission was too fast for many pupils to keep up with the English and there were no facilities to record and repeat the lesson so many failed to understand the lesson. Hence, only children from rich families, who had television at home and private tutors to supplement the lessons, could benefit from lessons delivered by plasma television. The remaining 90% were disadvantaged by plasma television lessons. This could be remedied by distributing plasma lessons on CDs/DVDs to be used as teaching aids for teacher/pupil discussion.

Part of the government general education quality improvement program (GEQIP), launched in 2009, has been to up-grade teacher qualifications. Primary school teachers for grades 1 to 4 now need a diploma instead of certificate. As a result, MoE statistics show a drop in qualified primary school teachers, for grades 1 to 4, from 84.9% in 2008/09 to 15.4% in 2009/10. This percentage has increased to 43.8% in 2012/13 suggesting that grade 1 to 4 primary school teachers are up-grading their qualifications. The percentage of qualified grade 5 to 8 primary school teachers has increased from 71.6% in 2008/9 to 92% in 2012/13. Degrees among secondary school teachers increased from 77.4% in 2009/10. to 91.5% in 2012/13.

Pupil/teacher ratios have been improving. Mean primary school pupil/teacher ratios decreased from 53.8 in 2008/09 to 49.4 in 2012/13, although there are wide variations between regions. Mean secondary school pupil/teacher decreased from 41 in 2008/09 to 28.7 in 2012/13. Large school size also reduces educational quality. In 2012/13, mean secondary school size was 994 with variation between regions from 1,511 in Amhara to 454 in Afar.

The World Bank survey of 80 teachers found that 80% reported general dissatisfaction with procedures for up-grading with 50% considering it was influenced by political connections and 27% by relationships to committee members. Bribery was mentioned by 9%. Application of rules and regulations could be at the discretion of key decision makers and favouritism was unchallenged. Teachers' absenteeism was tolerated to allow private tutoring which was reported by 40% of school officials. Promotion was seen as unrelated to merit and could involve forged documentation, possibly supported by officials who failed to notice forgeries. There were some reports of corruption in student assessment such as staff changing marks, favouring their relatives and selectively leaking questions. Fraudulent practices in examinations included forged admission cards, to allow students to pay others to take their exam, and collusion in cheating between students and school officials. In one case, regional officials were alleged to have over-turned a disqualification. Teachers might also accept bribes from students or parents to over-score the examination. Falsification of documents was widespread with most occurring for completion of the primary or secondary school cycle. There could be corruption in the building of new educational facilities, particularly in remote areas which were difficult to supervise. Corruption was indicated when a building collapsed but no one was held to account and there was no investigation. Bribery was regarded as worse than favouritism or document falsification. Expressing gratitude with a small gift was not considered corrupt. Malpractice tended not to be reported for fear of reprisals. Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and general knowledge of pupil entitlement helped to reduce some sources of potential corruption.