Academic journal article International Education

Quality Education Reform and Aid Effectiveness: Reflections from Ethiopia

Academic journal article International Education

Quality Education Reform and Aid Effectiveness: Reflections from Ethiopia

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In Ethiopia, primary education lasts eight years and is divided into grades 1 -4 (primary first cycle) and grades 5-8 (primary second cycle). Secondary education is also divided into two cycles, each with its own specific goals. Grades 9-10 (secondary first cycle) provide general secondary education and, upon completion, students are streamed, based on performance in the secondary education completion certifícate examination, either into grades 11-12 (secondary second cycle) as preparation for university, or into technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

As a result of ongoing efforts to decentralize the management of services to local levels of government, the provision of education is the concunent responsibility of federal, regional, and local governments. The federal government plays a dominant role in the provision of post-secondary education, while also setting standards and providing overall policy guidance, monitoring and evaluation, and support for the entire sector. Each of the nine regional state governments and two city administrative councils is responsible for fonnulating regional policy (including decisions about the languages of instruction); managing the work of colleges of teacher education which supply primary teachers; adapting the curriculum to the region; examining students at the end of primary school; and overall supervision and monitoring. Woredas, which are similar to districts, are largely responsible for implementation. Woreda personnel recruit and pay the salaries of primary and lower secondary teachers, visit schools to supervise teachers, and deliver non-salary inputs (either in cash or in kind) to schools. Total sector financing in 2007/08 was close to 10 billion birr, approximately $722 million(U.S.). Of this, 55% was spent on general education (grades 1-12) primarily by decentralized levels of government (Ravishankar, 2010).

Donors have been supporting basic services, including general education, through a range of modalities, including the Government of Ethiopia's preferred instrument - the Protection of Basic Services Grant. This grant provides additional financial resources for a block grant from the federal government to decentralized levels of government. Overall donor funding of approximately $260 million annually (off- and on-budget - representing 20% of the total education budget) comes from ten major donors and has helped the government to make impressive gains in the education sector. For example, the number of children in primary school has increased from 11.5 million in 2005 to 15.79 million in 2010, and the primary net enrollment rate has risen from 68% to 82% over the same period. There are now over 290,000 primary teachers in the system compared to 1 7 1 ,000 in 2005 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, October 2010).

The bulk of this decentralized expenditure through the block grant, however, is spent on teacher salaries, leaving on average only around 5% of recurrent expenditure for non-salary inputs. Consequently, quality inputs to schools are limited, with an average per-pupil spending on non-salary inputs of only around $1 .00 (U.S.) per year. In 2007, the government of Ethiopia responded to the quality imperative by launching a package of inputs to improve quality (teacher development, school improvement, management and administration, curriculum and textbooks, civics and ethics education, and infonnation technology). Donors agreed to support the reform effort through the General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP). This program supports an integrated package of inputs which, taken together, are designed to improve the quality of teaching and learning in Ethiopian schools.

Improving the quality of education has recently risen much higher on the agenda of donors such as the U.K. (Auditor General, June 2010; Department for International Development, 20 1 0) and has been given impetus by research which makes a strong case for the impact of education on economic growth (Hanushek and Wobmann, 2007). …

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