[DEHAI] (The African Executive) Eritrea Grapples to Achieve Education MDG

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Sun Apr 12 2009 - 18:44:47 EDT

Eritrea Grapples to Achieve Education MDG
By Dr. Ravinder Rena
Eritrean Institute of Technology

Education is the most powerful instrument in modernizing a society. The
Global economy is experiencing unprecedented changes. New developments
in science and technology, competition, media revolution and
internalization are revolutionizing the education sector. We are
witnessing several paradigm shifts in higher education, from `nation' to
`global education,' from `state controlled' to an `open market economy,'
from `general education' to an `educational system driven by market
forces,' from `one time education for a few' to `life long education for
all,' and from `teacher centered' to `learner centered' education. These
changes are making new demands and posing fresh challenges to Eritrea's
education systems and practices.
Educational investment involves a present sacrifice of income to get an
expected future benefit. Investing capital in education wisely and
efficiently is like saving the capital whilst it is generating profit.
This contributes to a nation's prosperity as well as social, cultural
and political stability.
The role of the right kind of education in Eritrea's progress cannot be
over-emphasized. It can inculcate citizenship values, liberate people
from ignorance, empower them with knowledge, information, and skills to
know about their rights and entitlements, expand their outlook, form
their aspirations, and prepare young citizens to take up roles and
responsibilities to shape their own destiny. Indeed, education awakens a
nation's consciousness against injustice, violence, and inequality.
It is projected that Eritrea will achieve 8 of the 10 goals prescribed
in the MDGs. The two areas that Eritrea will not achieve according to
the MDG report are primary school enrolment and poverty reduction.
Eritrea's literacy level is still low. As much as 40 per cent of
Eritreans lack basic literacy. About 50 per cent of the Eritrean
children drop out of school at the elementary stage, and just 13 per
cent of high school students graduate. Most of the dropouts belong to
the poorest segments of the society particularly in rural Eritrea.
Therefore, there is need to bring down the dropout rate to zero. For
this, the poor and deprived will need special support. Professor Amartya
Sen, Nobel laureate in Economics in 1998 wrote: "When people are
illiterate, their ability to understand and invoke their legal rights
can be very limited, and educational neglect can also lead to other
kinds of deprivation... if we continue to leave vast sections of the
people of the world outside the orbit of education, we make the world
not only less just, but also less secure."
Education should enable everyone to secure proper employment; hence the
need to expand avenues for vocational training. In this line, efforts
are being exerted to develop the technical and vocational education in
Sawa from March 2007. More than 3,500 students began to receive the
training in various professional fields. The present system creates wide
equality not only among rich and poor students but among those from
urban and rural backgrounds. But still some disparities can be noticed
in the education of girls where their participation is less than 20 per
There is a need to provide a better environment for the youth and build
their capacities through sustained nurturing of entrepreneurial talent,
innovation and creativity, research and development. Institutions of
higher learning should foster the spirit of research and inquiry to
enable students to face the challenges in young Eritrea.
The reality is disquieting. Only about 3 per cent of the youth in the
17-23 age groups get an opportunity for higher education. The enrolment
rates in science, medicine, engineering and technology, business and
economics and arts and social sciences vary from time to time. The
enrolment in basic sciences is on the wane. The standard of research in
higher learning institutions/ university is not yet developed.
Universities/colleges have to be the hub of quality education and
research, and centres of academic excellence in Eritrea to develop
quality human resources. For example, in a bid to develop human
resources in the country, the Eritrean Center for Organizational
Excellence trained 40 officials on February 2007.
The Eritrean Center for Organizational Excellence was established in
October 2006 to render different administrative training; advice
institutions with a view of stimulating efficient service provision; and
to introduce necessary techniques to increase production.
The center is also out to provide the necessary infrastructure; give a
high priority to the establishment of units by its partners and clients;
encourage institutional competence and productivity and conduct studies
in collaboration with its customers to make the training and up grading
related with the current situation, among others.
Development programs should begin with the poor. There is need to
improve the efficiency and management of delivery of public goods and
services. Eritreans are destined to be a prosperous, strong, and
developed nation and working hard accordingly.

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