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Part III Prospects

5. Prospects and Plans

5.1. Functional Issues and Priorities for Education Development

Transforming the Role of the Ministry

One of the greatest functional demands of the present educational development in the country is the development and implementation of an effective educational planning system geared towards successful economic growth and development. The formulation of a comprehensive and balanced educational development plan based on policy adjustments, selective and targeted expansion and the consolidation of the existing system will be a challenging and new experience for Eritrea. Thus the major issue that needs to be addressed in the future is the transformation of the Ministry of Education so that it plays its functional role effectively and efficiently. This would be required not only for planning but for the proper implementation of the programmes as well. This would require in itself improvement in the educational management up to and including the structure of the ministry to suit growing demands.

The above demand would entail that proper planning, management, implementation and evaluation of all educational programmes is present. Thus, two measures need to be capitalized in the future. The first is the development of the institutional capacity of the ministry at national and regional levels. The most important areas here are the training of expertise, the provision of basic facilities and the development of an effective organization. Furthermore, a proper MIS that helps informed decision making would be vital. The second area of vital consideration is the consolidation of functional and organizational relation with ministries and local governments. There will be a greater need for closer integrated approach in educational interventions and collaboration with other ministries. As decentralization is one of the major turns in the political administrative structure of the government, close relationships with the local governments will also be essential. This would be taken as a major drive to develop solid management and organization at various local levels. School authority and management will be used properly and effectively in running the school. Government and community resources in the school should be properly used so that the teaching learning process becomes successful.

Another major issue is the building of a capacity to manage the performance, promotion, incentives and deployment of teachers and other educational staff.

Research Emphasis on EFA

Education is a pre-requisite and a condition for the political, economic and social transformation of the Eritrean society. The assessment made shows that the limited investment made on EFA in all its forms in the last few years has an enormous impact and turn over in the future society. Thus proper planning, improvement of the quality of the provision, effective management and control and the general returns to the investment made could only be properly assessed through extensive and practical researches done at various levels and in various ways and approaches. Thus research into the EFA has been very low and thus enough commitment and investment is needed in the future so as to assure the right place of EFA in Eritrea. There are major areas of particular significance in which research is needed in EFA. These include the proper distribution and allocation of educational opportunity in equity terms, raising learning achievements, the cost effective implementation of literacy programmes, cost benefit analysis of skill training programmes, the financing of EFA activities and the role of the communities and the private sector.

Monitoring of Educational Process

There is a great need for establishing an effective monitoring system in education in the country. In the future efforts at consolidating monitoring above all should focus more on establishing an effective local monitoring system. There is a need that this should focus on three major and interrelated areas. These are the monitoring of the quality of education, monitoring the quality of teachers and other professional staff and monitoring the quality of the school environment. This has implied the radical reorganization and transformation of the supervision system in terms of policy and practice in the country so that it is turned into a support and a monitoring system. This would require consolidation and great investment must be made so that this works at local level. This would lead to the consolidation of the cluster management organization, the consolidation of local training and the provision of local resource centers.

Educational Financing

Substantial resources especially finance will be required to create greater access and higher quality of education in Eritrea in the next decade. Thus two types of investments will be required. These are the investment required for the expansion of the school system and the investment needed for improving quality of education. Two major issues arise here, which need to be considered in the next millennium. The first policy dimension is the diversification of educational finance. This would require increased cost sharing in education. One of the important measures in cost sharing would be to encourage privately owned and financed institutions especially at higher levels. In addition the involvement of communities to construct, finance and manage schools at basic education level should be encouraged. Cost sharing by the families and the students themselves at post secondary educational levels and limited tuition fees are also areas that need to be considered.

The second important policy dimension is the need to introduce effective mechanisms and rational ways for cutting and reducing costs. One of the measures that should be considered to contain costs is to reduce capital costs in construction. With the great number of schools that need to be considered, reducing the construction costs should be considered highly and low cost construction methods and local materials should be introduced. Another related issue is the extensive use of physical facilities. The use of schools for adult literacy and other non-formal education programmes, children’s activities during the summer vacation and in holidays, community activities, etc. should be emphasized. Another important issue is the intensive use of teachers and the reduction of recurrent costs related to salaries. The promotion of adequate and relevant training programmes with measures to contain unnecessary costs due to duration of time and redundant costs is another area that should be carefully assessed.

In general, the containment of costs is to be seen in relation to the maximization in the utilization of resources. A policy framework to make the use of education resources more efficiently should be designed at all levels. The strength of the management capacity at all levels is decisive in this respect and a broader approach to the development of management skills is needed in the future.

Partnerships and International Assistance

An experience that needs to be consolidated from the experience we have so far is the way international assistance is handled and made and the ways to use foreign assistance properly for the benefit of the people. The philosophy of the government on international assistance is based on partnership and thus there will be a great need to consolidate this thinking and implement it with full heart so that educational development will be based on self-reliance and geared to development of strategies of the country. Two pieces of experience which are very essential here are that intervention from external funding agencies should be of developmental nature and that inputs and activities of the of the funding agencies in EFA should be coordinated. The need for making interventions to fit to developmental objectives is evident from the need to make educational development sustainable and effective. Thus, there is a great need to raise the inputs of external funding agencies in EFA so that the educational demands of children, adults and youth are fulfilled to the maximum of ability.

From experience it has been observed that different funding agencies want to implement projects in education in their own way and demand their own requirements like report writing and implementation schedules. It is essential that because the ministry could not be bogged down in fulfilling the implementation demand of each agency, the need of coordinated efforts is mandatory for proper utilization of resources including time.

In general, the experience shows that international assistance on education in Eritrea was very promising but more is needed to match the growing demand in EFA. Thus, the international community should respond to this demand adequately but a greater coordination of assistance activities is needed

5.2. Future Goals and Targets

The future prospects and plans of EFA in Eritrea will be based on the achievements gained and the shortcomings reflected in the last eight years. Eritrea came out of the limited interventions related to recovery and emergency into a stage where the education system in general and the EFA strategy in particular entered into a formulation stage. In this stage, targeted expansion in priority areas at elementary school level, normal pattern growth, establishment of basic systems related to the development of the system and institutional capacity building in selected areas were the major concerns. The next stage is to move into the consolidation of these gains so that an effective system of EFA is established in the country. The consolidation stage will be followed by a second five year of intervention where efforts at assuring the quality and standard of education are maintained. These coming stages are not, however, seen in this dimension only. As we approach the next millennium with more challenges a practical vision and practical approach of EFA to meet the demands and challenges becomes the most important demand in education for development in Eritrea for the first decade of the 21st century. In the following part the preliminary plans and targets for the next five-year are given for further discussion.

Early Childhood Education Care and Development

The goal is to promote the health growth and development of children through early interventions, which influence later development. A five-year programme with a credit support of the World Bank is on the process of planning. It includes four major components namely health, nutrition, early childhood education and care and protecting the social welfare of disadvantaged children. The two cross cutting issues included are information, education and communication and monitoring. The programme will be included in this plan when the preliminary document is finalized in the near future. The major strategy emphasized is the promotion of low cost community-based interventions. The integrated programme is developed thorough the coordinated efforts of all the concerned ministries and organizations.

Formal Basic Education

The goal is to provide free and compulsory basic education up to the middle level. The universalization of primary education will be an immediate target to be achieved. On the basis of the experience gained in the last eight years a practical vision on this sub-sector is needed. The vision must show the plan of action for the role of the formal basic education in the human capital formation in the country. It must clearly show ways of coping with the growing demand of basic education in the country. In the next decade three goals are emphasized. The universal access and completion of primary education will be the immediate objective with all efforts targeted to achieve the goal of Basic Education for All. Various strategies and targets will be introduced in next 5 years starting from the year 2000 to achieve these goals.

Increasing the educational access and equity will be a major concern. The government will work in the next decade to expand the school system in the country. Making better and more effective use of the available resources and educational facilities will be one of the most important considerations. Quality improvement will also be another major concern. Raising learning achievement will also be targeted. Reducing repetition and drop out rates will be important areas related to improving quality. In order to raise retention, transition and survival rates, consideration will be given to raising the internal efficiency of the system. Building an effective monitoring system will also be an essential dimension of the effort. The following targets will be considered to achieve the strategies and objectives stated: -

Targets Related to Promoting Equal Educational Opportunity

Targets and Objectives related to Improving Quality

Adult Literacy

Expand Learning Provision for Adults

Targets Related to Quality

Consolidation of the Educational Radio Programme

Technical Skills Training

Education for Human Living

5.3. Resources and Source of Funding

The government is working out to compile the budget allocation of the next 5 years for all sectors. This could be incorporated in this report in the future. Various external financing sources are also on the process of arrangement. DANIDA has finished the appraisal of a five-year plan on education sector support. This encompasses a 73% for basic education, 23% for technical and vocational education and 4% for teacher training at the faculty of Education of the university. NORAD is also going to support the establishment of a teacher training college for basic education level. CIDA Sweden is to finance the literacy programme in the next 5 years in collaboration with the Eritrean government. The Eritrean government will also get a credit from the WB to invest on its 2000-2005 ECCD programme. An assessment on UNICEF’s involvement in the Sector Programme Support (1996-2000) will be made very soon and a new plan on collaboration for the next 5 years will be finalized.

6. Conclusion

Education is a pre-requisite and a condition without which political, economic and social changes could not be effectively achieved in the national reconstruction process in Eritrea. In the 8 years since the independence of the country, there has been significant progress in basic education. Enrolment at both elementary and middle school levels has increased tremendously. The number of children who are out-of-school and the number of children who are rejected every year are, however, of great concern. Coverage of educational provision has improved but regional, cultural and gender disparities still need to be addressed more. The provision of early childhood care and development has also been an important priority but more needs to be done to assure the healthy growth and development of children from early years. In particular the low accessibility and coverage of ECE should be a major priority. Enrolment in adult literacy and non-formal evening schools is very low and the coverage limited. The training of technical skills despite good progress is also limited to certain regions. Thus expanding the educational opportunity in all areas becomes a major imperative of the next decade in the millennium. The urgent need to close the gender gap needs to be addressed as a mater of equity despite the positive trends and changes.

Accompanying the achievements in the educational accessibility and equity, improving the quality of basic education was also a major task accomplished. Efforts are still going on to introduce changes into the curriculum. Introducing life skills and new knowledge demanded in the new century will be highly demanded in the new curriculum. Improving learning achievement has been an important target, which showed promising changes. More effort is however, needed to impart the desired skills and competencies in students and raise academic standards. The internal efficiency of the school system has improved slightly but a lot remains to be done in the future. The qualification and intensive use of teachers has also improved but effort will be needed to maximize the utilization of resources in order to improve quality substantially. Management skills in schools have improved but this is one of the bottlenecks hampering the overall organization and implementation of school programmes, efficiency and promotion of innovation. This needs to be addressed more in the next decade at all levels of basic education. Improving the quality of the adult literacy and technical skills training is also an important priority. One of the greatest gaps in the overall education development is the strength of the monitoring system. Institutional capacity building at all levels of the sector will also be a major priority.

The role of the informal system is still very low in Eritrea. The media coverage and impact in the last 4 years has successful. This should be consolidated in the future. The establishment of the set of cultural institutions for proper communication, information and social contacts should be considered highly in the next decade. This is quiet essential for better living.

The public expenditure in education has increased substantially which shows the greater political will and commitment of the government. One of the major concerns is the balance between the expenditures in basic education and other levels and forms of education. A careful assessment of this balance is required in the future. The diversification in educational financing and policies for the containment of cost are important and a policy package to address these issues is urgently needed. Building extensive international relations based on partnerships will also be major tasks of the next decade.

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