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The number of un-enrolled children at all levels and in particular in the lowland regions is still very high with about 281,732 children at primary school age(51.2% are girls) and about 98,486 at middle school age (50.2% girls). The factor that needs to be considered here is the 3% population growth, which will create an additional load to the exiting problem of un-enrolled children especially at Formal Basic Education level. Thus, the number of un-enrolled children has substantially decreased at primary school level but has increased at middle level despite the improvement from the 1996 crisis. Particular attention is to be made to the regions of Gash Barka, Debub and Northern Red Sea in terms of addressing the un-enrolled at the middle level.

Table 13: Un-enrolled Children at the Elementary and Junior School Level by Region: 1993/94 -1998/99

Level

UN-ENROLLED ELEMENTARY

UN-ERNOLLRD JUNIOR

Year

1993-94

1996-97

1998/99

1993-94

1996-97

1998/99

Region

T

% of Tot

T

% of Tot

T

% of Tot

T

% of Tot

T

% of Tot

T

% of Tot

Maekel

25,524

9.0

30,509

10.2

32,101

11.4

5,658

6.3

7211

7.5

7,868

8.0

N R Sea

51,514

18.1

54,279

18.2

52,427

18.6

19,411

21.7

20,065

21.0

20,002

20.3

S R Sea

24,619

8.7

27,059

9.1

28,939

10.3

8,278

9.2

10,005

10.5

10,910

11.1

Gash B

64,827

22.8

66,623

22.3

64,701

23.0

22,683

25.4

22,943

24.0

24,110

24.5

Anseba

47,238

16.6

47,896

16.0

43,580

15.5

15,970

17.8

16,088

16.8

15,757

16.0

Debub

70,540

24.8

72,112

24.2

59,984

21.3

17,494

19.6

19,369

20.2

19,839

20.1

Total

2

           

100

       

% Change

   

5.0

 

-5.6

     

6.9

 

2.9

 

In general, the above situation signifies that there is a great deal of challenge to reach the threshold target of 80% UPE and the promotion of Basic Education for All policy as stipulated in the Macro Policy of the government. Both have a great significance in terms of the production of a literate work force and the overall cultural transformation needed in a very short time. In addition the economic dimensions of the investment in education and individual and social return of the education given need to be considered as is the enrolment of children at the right age and educating them in the desired way. This is seen in terms of raising productivity, improving morality, changing the economy and the social style and quality of life in the Eritrean society especially in the rural areas and lowland regions where the people are predominantly pastoralists. It is to be noted that the NER average for sub-Saharan Africa in primary level for 1997 was also 57%. The very low NER is thus of particular significance economically in terms of the opportunity costs of education and socially in terms of the age distribution of the working population in Eritrea and the social and individual returns of education. In addition, it should also be born in mind that the present effort and investment despite already high commitment and political will of the government, it would demand a higher share of the total government expenditure especially in basic education.

The overall coverage system across the cycles of education is also promising with a great attention being given to the basic education level especially in relation to the UPE. The share of the primary has dropped by about 4.8 percentage points with the middle level increasing 6.2 percentage points. Coverage among regions and levels improved with the percentage of enrolment and number of schools in the lowlands growing to about 40-42% in 1997 from about 35% in 1994. The disparity in school distribution and student population has improved. In 1997/98 and 1998/99 figures show that there is a great deal of deviation from the national ratio in the Southern, Northern Red Sea and Gash Barka Region. In 1997 this deviation was about –39.0 %, -24.1%, and –12.6% respectively and there is thus the great need to focus on these regions to address the equitable distribution of UPE in the future.

Table 14: Enrolment Comparisons by Region and Level 1995/96 – 1998/99

Primary

Middle

1993/94

1998/99

% of T

Av % Gr

1993/94

1998/99

% of T

Av % Gr

Anseba

23817

38628

14.7

12.44

2543

6142

9.45

28.31

DKB

4393

3798

1.4

-2.71

1178

754

1.16

-7.20

Debub

72589

90537

34.6

4.95

7539

22194

34.15

38.88

Gash-B

22925

35333

13.5

10.82

1031

4170

6.42

60.89

Maekel

74038

72817

27.8

-0.33

19716

27985

43.05

8.39

SKB

10961

20850

8.0

18.04

773

3754

5.78

77.13

Total

208723

261963

100

5.10

32780

64999

100.00

19.66

% of Total

74.6

69.8

11.7

17.9

In terms of bridging cultural disparity, the significant change observed is the percentage of rural coverage. Rural areas account for about 54.3% of the total basic education student population and about 81.9% of the schools but the percentage share for senior level is very low (5.2% of students in about 17% schools). A significant situation here is that there are many underutilized schools (standard school with less than 250 students). This amounts to about 37% at the elementary level. At elementary level 76.4% of schools comprise 59.3% of the rural students and at junior level 55% of the schools contain about 33.6% of students. In general, 54.3% of students in 73.1% of the schools at Basic Education level are from rural areas. Despite remarkable achievement demonstrated so far, more efforts would be needed at elementary and junior secondary levels in rural areas. With the growing number of schools however, effort and care must be made so that schools do not become under-utilized. Preliminary estimates show that the ratio of urban to rural student population in the specified age at basic education level is 1:1.2, which is a significant improvement. The situation becomes more challenging when the enrolment situation at all levels in rural areas is seen in relation to the population age between 7 and 24. Only 23% of children and youth of the age 7-24 in rural areas (772,839) are enrolled in the school system at Basic Education. This becomes a critical issue in the future in terms of providing equitable access in the rural areas. In urban areas about 50% of the specified population of 7-24 (302,002) are enrolled at basic education level.

Table 15: Rural/Urban Comparisons by Region and Level – 1998/99

Zoba

1-5

6-7

1-7

Students

Schools

Students

Schools

Students

Number

%of Total

Number

% of Total

Number

%of Total

Number

% of Total

Number

%of Total

Anseba

24332

15.64

68

14.8

2840

13.01

10

16.4

27172

15.32

Deb-Keih-B

1819

1.17

16

3.5

0

0.00

0

0.0

1819

1.03

Debub

68593

44.09

164

35.7

9261

42.42

25

41.0

77854

43.89

Gash-Barka

27437

17.64

100

21.7

2423

11.10

7

11.5

29860

16.83

Maekel

21131

13.58

52

11.3

6089

27.89

11

18.0

27220

15.34

Sem-Keih-B

12262

7.88

60

13.0

1217

5.57

8

13.1

13479

7.60

Total

155574

100.00

460

100.0

21830

100.00

61

100.0

177404

100.00

The minimum percentage of under-aged was 2.4% and maximum was 3.6% through the formal BE grades (grades 1-7) in 1993 and while this has increased in most grades by 1998 (minimum 3.0, maximum 4.6) it is a significant problem showing that schools are not admitting official admission age. The serious problem is the percentage of over age children. This has significantly decreased in all grades at the primary while no change has been seen in grade 6. The percentage in grade 7 has increased. In general the percentage of over aged children is very high in all grades except in the Central and the Southern Red Sea regions. The overall situation has a strong implication to the policy on educational provision. The fact that strong basis and organization of adult education program for youth has not been established has also made powerful influence on the overall policy of enrollment. In general the percentage of students enrolled in relation to the official admission age has changed positively and it has been found that this is more true for girls which indicates that in those areas where the participation of girls has improved, more girls are enrolled at the right age.

Participation of Girls

One of the areas of great concern in the last three years has been the participation of girls. The efforts of the last three years show a great deal of optimism especially at primary and middle level. In general the GPI for girls has improved at all levels and in all regions except in NR Sea and SR Sea which require special attention. Another major concern that still persists is the decreasing participation of girls and the descending GPI as you go higher into the levels.

Table 16: GPI Comparison by Region and Level: 1995/96-1998/99

 

Elementary

Junior

Senior

95/96

96/97

97/98

98/99

95/96

96/97

97/98

98/99

95/96

96/97

97/98

98/99

Maekel

1.025

1.038

1.04

1.038

1.062

1.069

1.111

1.165

0.788

0.842

0.869

0.826

N R Sea

0.528

0.514

0.498

0.548

0.638

0.605

0.534

0.512

0.482

0.505

0.497

0.421

S R Sea

0.643

0.597

0.585

0.593

0.684

0.764

0.738

0.622

0.83

0.758

0.721

0.551

Gash Barka

0.715

0.712

0.709

0.708

0.48

0.42

0.461

0.507

0.33

0.324

0.342

0.315

Anseba

0.749

0.752

0.737

0.753

0.67

0.62

0.573

0.639

0.382

0.452

0.48

0.43

Debub

0.766

0.799

0.846

0.863

0.603

0.555

0.523

0.603

0.457

0.458

0.42

0.404

Total

0.809

0.819

0.822

0.831

0.831

0.768

0.725

0.733

0.656

0.658

0.654

0.609

The overall coverage of educational opportunity has also improved in terms of GER and NER as indicated in the table 17. Enrolment rates and growth are however, lower for girls despite 1.5 GER and 1.3 NER percentage points growth at elementary in particular. Community attitudes and the general social and cultural situation have on their part been major impediments to the progress in girls’ education. The effort has been to show that on top of being a basic right, the education of girls brings social and economic benefits to the child, family and the nation as a whole. The mobilization and sensitization campaigns made in the last three years have made a great deal of impact in motivating parents and communities to send their daughters to school. It is generally assessed that this should continue through the greater participation of all stakeholders at grass root level and the experience gained in assuring the participation of the religious leaders, community elders, local administrators should be consolidated in the future.

Traditional barriers like distance of the school from the community have been major obstacles in the participation of girls. A survey made in 1996 shows that girls travel an average of about 9.7 kms one way (for the lowlands it is about 12.5 kms). It is to be noted that the average distance between villages is about 7.2 kms while the average distance between schools is about 14.8 kms at the primary and 34.5 kms at the middle level. Thus, alternative strategies of access have been initiated in terms of establishing small size feeder schools nearer to the community but their impact is to be assessed in the next 2-3 years especially on its impact in raising girls’ participation.

Similarly efforts to establish and consolidate boarding schools and hostels for girls have been mounted. Preliminary preparations for the establishment of 2 Girl’s hostel through UNICEF funding have been completed and the establishment of a boarding school in Southern Red Sea region has been finished while preparation for another one is going on in through Eritrean Community Development Funds. During the last 3 years, 3 boarding schools have been functioning while hostels have been operating in 4 other areas. More than half of the total establishment being placed in the rural areas and all except one in the lowland regions. In general, the condition of almost all boarding schools is not conducive for proper learning and upbringing and thus efforts are going on to address the management and quality problems. A study has been made to analyze the situation of boarding schools and a general guideline on the management of boarding schools and hostels will be developed very soon.

Table 17: GER and NER Growth by Gender by Level and Year: 1993/94-1997/98

 

Primary

Basic Education

GER

NER

GER

NER

M

 

T

M

F

T

M

 

T

M

F

T

93/94

59.6

48.8

54.3

30.8

28.6

29.7

49.5

41.2

45.5

34.4

31.2

22.9

94/95

62.2

51

56.7

32

29.6

30.8

51.7

43.1

47.4

75.8

32.5

34.2

95/96

64.6

53.6

59.2

33.9

31.5

32.7

54.0

45.7

49.9

37.3

34.2

35.8

96/97

62.2

52.2

57.2

33.9

31.2

32.6

53.8

45.4

49.7

37.2

33.8

35.5

97/98

61.9

52.3

57.2

36.6

33

34.8

55.3

46.4

51.0

38.8

34.7

36.8

98/99

63.7

53.7

58.8

39.7

35.1

37.4

57.4

48.7

53.1

41.0

36.3

38.7


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