Education specialists assert that early childhood education, which begins in first grade, is the basis upon which knowledge is formed. Before attending primary school, it is considered that children must have a comprehensive concept of learning in order to have a greater chance of understanding what they are studying.
In Ethiopia’s context, early childhood education teachers lack the requisite skills and training. There is evidence that it is being shrunk, which is one explanation for this, and the hired teachers are academically less qualified. The same career path also attracts a small number of people; it provides meager pay and training, and those who choose it appear to be doing so out of necessity. Consequently, those who are considered experts in the field are less committed and diligent than they should be.
The two-year diploma program in early childhood care education is not structured in a way that will help teachers remember what they have learned. They are not adapted to the Ethiopian context because they come from the West and were not made for young children, a fact echoed during a meeting held earlier this week.
On December 19, 2022, experts from Addis Ababa University, Hawassa University, and Debre Markos University met at the Inter Luxury Hotel to review the current state of early childhood education in Ethiopia. They deliberated on the findings of the studies conducted by different specialists in the matter as well as their diverse recommendations and solutions for early childhood education. This was done to kick off a new initiative, dubbed Pilot Pre-Service Program, to raise the caliber of preschool teachers.
The fundamental goal of this program, according to ESRI’s executive director, Menelik Desta, is to guarantee that instructors have the essential skills and resources for early childhood education before graduation. “One of the main difficulties in Ethiopia is that young children do not receive the correct kind of education, and one of the keys to assisting our country is ensuring that young children are ready for primary school,” Menelik said.
The Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative, which started in 2007 and was formally launched in 2010, has been working on methods to make sure that people get the education they need in engaging and enjoyable ways.
In order to provide comprehensive and top-notch knowledge that may help with the delivery of high-quality education and the development of young children, they have also been working on creating and making materials by highly skilled specialists available.
A successful early education involves more than just learning letters and numbers, according to Menelik. “Quality education is also about laying the groundwork for citizens who can contribute to the progress of the country.”
In order to achieve this, ESRI has covered all relevant aspects of a child’s early education in these materials. These include making sure that parents are involved in their children’s education, protecting their mental health, and being aware of how family dynamics affect a child’s mental health.
The project also aims to support single mothers by giving them opportunities to support their children by helping them create a steady income.
They believe that a child’s health and ability to get a good education depend on his or her ability to have financial security.
Projects to improve the caliber of early childhood education are being planned by the ESRI and regional education offices in Oromia, SNNPR, Amhara, Somalia, and Afar. They also produced 11 parent training manuals in Tigrigna, Amharic, Somali, and Afan Oromo, along with four accompanying text volumes for teachers working in early childhood care education with students of varying ages.
These instructions will also be translated into Sidama, Wolayta, Afar, and Hadiya.
While the facility was fully equipped and in remarkably good shape, Belay Tefera (Prof.) from the AAU, who worked on the research done at the teaching colleges, indicated that the problem with a shortage of properly educated early childhood education professionals lay in the process.
He argued in favor of an intervention project for elementary teacher candidates.
The professor says that teacher education needs to change. He believes that early childhood education should be made a profession, that the criteria for choosing teachers should be changed, and that curricula and modules should put more emphasis on teaching children.
“It’s also important to think about changing how teachers are evaluated and what they have to do to graduate, as well as teaching methods that are more practical than just academic,” the professor concluded.