January 18, 2023

Increasing Number of Children Pushed Out of Education in Ethiopia Due to Severe Drought, Conflict and Forced Displacement

Joint mission to Ethiopia by Education Cannot Wait and Norway International Development Minister brings attention to one of the world’s largest education crises that has left 3.6 million children out of school.

7 December 2022, Addis Ababa/New York – Ethiopia is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises it has seen in decades. On a joint high-level visit to Ethiopia, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and the Norwegian Minister of International Development took stock of education needs in areas affected by the compounding, crippling impacts on children due to conflict, climate change, malnutrition and displacement.

The number of out-of-school children in Ethiopia as a result of these emergencies has spiked from 3.1 million to 3.6 million in just the last six months, according to UNICEF.

The recent conflict in Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions have displaced families from their homes. Ongoing violence in parts of Oromia is causing further civilian displacement.

The worst drought in over four decades has made matters even worse with 24.1 million people affected, including 12.6 million children. Over 1 million people have been displaced by the drought in the Somali region alone. Across the country, 20 million people are in need of food assistance, according to the World Food Programme.

On their high-level joint mission, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s Minister of International Development, Graham Lang, ECW Director of the High-Level Financing Conference and Chief of Education, Birgitte Lange, CEO of Save the Children Norway, and other partners met with children and adolescents impacted by the ongoing crises in the Oromia and Somali regions.

The delegation visited schools and communities benefitting from holistic education support funded by ECW and delivered in partnership with UNICEF, Save the Children Ethiopia, and local partners in support of the Government.

In three years, the multi-year programme has reached over 250,000 vulnerable girls and boys with ‘whole-of-child’ interventions that include school-feeding, psychosocial support, teacher training, school materials, accelerated learning, gender transformative approaches, and the construction and rehabilitation of school facilities.

“Education in crisis and conflict is a priority for the Norwegian government. In conflict especially, girls drop out of school. What this field visit has shown us is that if you manage to bring children back into school, they will eventually help build the societies they live in,” said Minister for International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim.

Community mobilization efforts, parent-teacher associations and children’s clubs support the school management in driving key results and improving learning outcomes. Enrolment and retention rates have significantly improved, in particular for girls; with some ECW-supported schools registering up to a four-fold increase in enrolment rates since the programme started.

“It is heart-warming to see the incredibly positive impact our joint programme is having on the children and their communities. From gender equality to climate change adaptation, the interventions are designed to address the specific needs of crisis-affected children and improve their learning outcomes. Together with our partners, we call on public and private donors to substantially fund ECW to ensure we can scale up this successful model and reach more children in need,” said Graham Lang.

Education Cannot Wait – the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises – has provided US$55 million in education funding investments to date in Ethiopia.

These ongoing efforts – delivered in partnership with UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, and local partners in support to the Government of Ethiopia – are building schools, providing school meals, and ensuring girls and boys affected by the multiple crises in the country receive holistic educational supports. Innovative initiatives like gender clubs, environmental clubs, psychosocial support, and ‘speed schools’ that help children catch up after prolonged absences from learning are also generating strong results.

“ECW is committed to continuing its support to the crises affecting Ethiopia – the multi-year programme will be renewed in 2023 and ECW is working closely with partners at all levels to mobilise the resources needed to fully implement the programme. A new US$5 million ECW grant is also currently being finalized with strategic partners to scale up the response to the drought,” said Lang.

Worldwide, 222 million crisis-impacted children and adolescents are in need of urgent educational support. Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Financing Conference will take place in Geneva on 16 and 17 February 2023. Hosted by Switzerland and Education Cannot Wait – and co-convened by Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan – the Conference calls on government donors, private sector, foundations and high-net-worth individuals to turn commitments into action by making substantive funding contributions to ECW to realize #222MillionDreams.

Ethiopia Education Fast Facts

  • ECW has invested $55 million in Ethiopia since 2017, with an additional $5 million investment being finalized to further scale up education response to the drought.
  • Together with our strategic partners, ECW investments have already reached 276,000 crisis-affected girls and boys with safe, quality education.
  • 3.6 million children are out of school. Conflict and the climate crisis have partially or severely damaged over 8,700 schools in Ethiopia.
  • Due to the ongoing crises and the effects of COVID-19, learning outcomes are falling. The number of second-grade Ethiopian students that are able to read dropped from 25% in 2018 to 13% in 2021.
  • The recent drought has disrupted the education of 1.6 million children, including close to 500,000 forced out of learning.
  • Girls – especially teenage girls – children with disabilities and displaced children are among the most at risk.

Source: Education Cannot Wait