School and Education in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia the education follows an 8-2-2 system, where the primary school lasts for 8 years, the secondary school for 2 years and the secondary school for 2 years. According to UNESCO, in 2007, 61% of the population over 15 years were illiterate.

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Primary school

The official school age is 7 years. Primary school is in principle free and compulsory. In recent years, Ethiopia has made tremendous progress in providing basic education. While only 46% of children attend school at the turn of the millennium, UNESCO (2011) estimates that 86% now begin school. At the child stage, English, mother tongue and the national language are taught in Amharic.

Ethiopia Country Flag

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Higher education

Higher education is offered at a number of vocational schools, colleges and universities. An academic year consists of 36 weeks and is divided into semesters (October-February, March-July). Bachelor’s programs last from three to four years, while master’s degree programs last a minimum of two years.

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Academic freedom is very limited in Ethiopia. In the 2010 Education under Attack report, UNESCO describes widespread human rights violations over academics who are critical of the governing powers.

In October 2013, Mulatu Teshome was elected President of Parliament with 659 votes against 0. He had no counter-candidates.

In November, a 7-month amnesty period for illegal immigrants ended in Saudi Arabia. The Ethiopian government started flying the illegal Ethiopian emigrants home from Saudi Arabia and had expected to fetch 30,000, but when the last one landed in Addis Ababa, 150,000 had been picked up. Many Ethiopians had traveled to rich Saudi Arabia to work, but for most, it had ended in a lack of wage payments and ill-treatment. The deportation triggered a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

In the period 2011-14, authorities arrested over 5,000 residents of the Oromo region, solely on their supposed opposition to the government.

Up to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country in April 2014, the authorities arrested 6 bloggers and 3 journalists. The nine, along with a tenth, were indicted in July for contact with banned opposition groups and for attempted “violent overthrow of the government”. It happened within the framework of the state’s far-reaching terror laws. In parallel with the persecution of the media and opposition, the authorities are waging a self-proclaimed “war on gays” that is being bullied or sent to prison.

In December 2014, security forces arrested 90 members from a coalition of 9 opposition parties preparing for a demonstration. The authorities generally tightened the grip on the opposition as a prelude to the parliamentary elections in May 2015 by assaults on meetings and demonstrations, imprisonment of opposition members and activists, and obstruction in its members. At the election, the ruling EPRDF got 500 out of Parliament’s 547 seats. Its support parties got the remaining 47. The opposition was thus not represented in parliament.

Oppression of the opposition continued after the election. In June, the chairman of the Semayawi party, Samuel Aweke, was killed in the town of Debre Markos. A few days before, he had published an article in the party’s newspaper, Negro Ethiopia, criticizing local authorities, police and security forces. After the killing, the party declared that in the days following its publication, he had received death threats from the security forces. The following month, 3 other members of opposition parties were killed.