Saturday, April 20, 2024
NewsEducation Ministry seeks USD 40ml to offset textbook shortages: Berhanu Nega

Education Ministry seeks USD 40ml to offset textbook shortages: Berhanu Nega

  • One textbook for every four students on average in Ethiopia’s schools

The Ministry of Education is looking to secure more than USD 40 million to fund the procurement of close to 19 million textbooks in a bid to improve appalling textbook-to-student ratios in the country’s schools.

The national average for kindergarten (pre-elementary) is one textbook for every nine students, while the ratio is 1:5 for primary school (grades 1 to 6) and 1:4 for both middle and high school.

“This is based on projections for the number of students. It doesn’t mean all regions have one book for four students; some might have one for each student while others don’t,” Minister Berhanu Nega (PhD) told Parliament on February 15, 2024.

A high school student may require up to 13 textbooks for each subject studied across four years.

The federal government has struggled to secure funding for the implementation of an education curriculum that underwent revisions four years ago. Students were making do with soft copies of the prescribed textbooks until a few months ago.

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Last year, the Ministry signed a USD 45 million contract for the supply of close to 23 million textbooks from printers in Japan. Of these, 20.6 million copies were distributed to education bureaus in all regional states and city administrations, while 2.1 million copies are held in reserve, according to Berhanu.

The Minister revealed that only two education bureaus – Central Ethiopia and Dire Dawa – have managed to distribute all of the textbooks they received from the Ministry, at close to 928,000 and 64,000, respectively.

Education officials in Sidama, South Ethiopia, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Addis Ababa, are wrapping up the distribution process, according to Berhanu. However, only 48pc of the 770,000 textbooks allocated to Tigray have been distributed, while students in the Amhara region have seen less than 20 percent of 4.4 million textbooks distributed.

“The Amhara and Tigray regions have the lowest rate of distribution, due to the security issues we are all aware of,” Berhanu told MPs.

The Minister foresees additional funding of USD 40 million would enable education officials to avail much-needed education materials to students and improve the textbook-to-student ratio to 1:2.

“We will hopefully finalize everything in the coming three months,” said Berhanu.

He assured MPs that students will have adequate access to textbooks by the start of the next school year in September.

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