More than half of children in Ethiopia remain excluded from pre-primary education in Ethiopia, despite impressive gains made in increasing enrolment.
In its report released on Thursday, 11 April 2019, UNICEF said Ethiopia’s commitment to promoting pre-primary education has led to an increase in gross enrolment from less than 2 percent in 2000 to more than 45 percent in 2017.
However, despite these impressive gains, more than half of children of pre-primary age across the country remain excluded, contributing to the 175 million children missing out on pre-primary education globally.
The report notes that the growth in pre-primary enrolment in Ethiopia was encouraged by the National Policy Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education, which focused on making one year of pre-primary education widely available for children. However, this growth has not been even as evidenced by persistently huge variations across regions. For example, while Addis Ababa and Tigray have high gross enrolments rates of 93 per cent and 88 per cent respectively, only 4.5 per cent of children in the Somali Region and 14 per cent in the Afar Region are enrolled.
Countries with the highest numbers of children not in pre-primary education are missing a critical opportunity to build human resources and are at risk of suffering deep inequalities from the start, the report notes. In low-income countries, on average only 1 in 5 young children are enrolled in pre-primary education.
“Pre-primary education is foundation for our children’s success in primary and secondary education and beyond,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF’s Representative in Ethiopia. “Yet too many children in Ethiopia are denied this opportunity. This increases their risk of repeating grades or dropping out of school altogether and relegates them to the shadows of their more fortunate peers.”
Children are estimated to number more than 25 million of the over 100 million Ethiopian population.