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A grade 3 student reading a paragraph from his textbook at the Andode Primary School in Addis Ababa.
A grade three student reads a paragraph from his textbook at the Andode Primary School in Addis Ababa. Early reading improves children’s lifelong development.
Haweni Gonfa, IQPEP

Education is foundational to human development and critical to broad‐based economic growth. For the past nearly two decades, USAID Ethiopia’s education activities have addressed a variety of needs in relation to education access, equity, quality, relevance, etc., in close partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. The quality of education is now the single biggest challenge and priority facing the Ethiopian education system. Ethiopia’s Early Grade Reading Assessment, funded by USAID Ethiopia in 2010, showed very low reading performance for first through third grade students across the country: approximately one-third of second graders are non-readers and approximately half scored a zero in comprehension. These devastating results prompted USAID to prioritize early grade literacy, partnering with the Ministry of Education and regional state education bureaus and linking with a pooled, donor-funded project managed by the World Bank (General Education Quality Improvement Project - GEQIP) to implement a comprehensive, country-wide approach to improving early grade literacy rates. Research clearly proved that children who do not attain reading skills at the primary level are on a lifetime trajectory of limited educational progress and therefore limited economic and developmental opportunity.

USAID is working world wide to meet the goal of improved reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades by 2015 to which USAID Ethiopia is committed to contribute by improving the reading skills of 15 million primary school children in Ethiopia. Major activities supported by USAID Ethiopia include:

  • Improving the reading and writing skills of students in primary schools, with an additional focus on vulnerable populations, poor performing areas, and traditionally underserved communities
  • Developing relevant national curriculum
  • Providing quality materials to support instruction
  • Improving the professional capacity of teachers
  • Improving the planning and management capacity of the primary education system at national, regional, district, and community levels
  • Strengthening parental and community involvement in school management and after school reading activities

Currently USAID, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and regional state education bureaus, has developed the Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed (READ) program with an estimated total cost of $86 million. The READ program has four activities that will be working to improve and measure early grade reading in seven of the most commonly used mother tongue languages to reach 15 million children in Ethiopia.

USAID also works closely with other donor partners to leverage support for additional early grade reading activities through the $550 million multi-donor funded GEQIP of the Ministry of Education.

USAID Ethiopia’s higher education program focuses on creating partnerships between American universities, implementing partners and Ethiopian universities.

USAID also is planning to implement a workforce development program. The program will reach vulnerable youth ages 15-29 with technical and soft skills training linked to local labor market demands, entrepreneurship support, and linkages to jobs.

Activities Include

  • Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed (READ): Train teachers and develop curriculum to improve reading comprehension and writing proficiency in primary schools as the foundation for future learning.

  • Fre-Addis Girls’ Scholarships: Help 1,022 female high school students in 196 woredas who demonstrate strong academic performance and successfully complete grade eight, but are in need of assistance to complete secondary education by granting them scholarships.

  • Improving Quality of Primary Education Program (IQPEP): Improve the quality of primary education through the development of teachers’ professional capacity, provision of supplementary reading materials, and strengthening of the planning and management capacity of the primary education system.

  • Improving the Teaching of English Language in Ethiopia (ITELE): Enhance the proficiency of English language reading and writing and training in the colleges of teacher education and primary schools in Ethiopia.

  • Strengthening Civic Education in Primary Schools (SCEPS): Foster children who are socially active and responsible youngsters, promote civic education and develop self-esteem and engage in community service activities.

  • Sustainable Water Resources: Capacity Building in Education, Research and Outreach: Build the capacity in graduate-level education, research, community outreach, and institutional development in sustainable water resource management and water and health between Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and the University of Connecticut in the U.S.

  • Transforming Education for Adults and Children in the Hinterlands (TEACH II): Increase access to education for children and adults in disadvantaged areas and improve the capacity of woreda education offices to manage non-formal education.

  • University Success Program for Young Ethiopian Women: Increase capacity of female students to succeed in their higher education studies and partner with universities to support female students through targeted programming.

Related Resources

Last updated: April 17, 2014

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