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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's Ethiopia mission’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 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, multi-donor funded project to implement a comprehensive, country-wide approach to improving early grade literacy rates. Research clearly shows 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 worldwide to meet the goal of improved reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades to which USAID Ethiopia will target improving the reading skills of 15 million primary school children in Ethiopia. Major activities supported by USAID's mission in Ethiopia include the following:

  • 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, has developed the Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed (READ) project with an estimated total cost of $86 million. The READ activity has four components that will work to improve and measure early grade reading in seven of the most commonly used mother tongue languages that will reach 75 percent of primary school 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 General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP) implemented by the Ministry of Education.

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

Major Activities

  • 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.

  • Transforming Education for Adults and Children in the Hinterlands (TEACH II): Increase access to non-formal education for children and adults in disadvantaged, remote areas and improve the capacity of district education offices to manage alternative basic education centers. In 2013, to align with evolving USAID education priorities, the focus of this activity narrowed to emphasize training teachers to support evidence-based reading pedagogy, developing reading materials consistent with the Ministry of Education's new national reading curriculum, and assessing the reading performance of children

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Improving Early Grade reading through Ethiopian Local Non-governmental Organizations: Develop supplementary reading materials, organize reading corners and clubs, and strengthen parental and community engagement in reading activities through three Ethiopian non-governmental organizations, as part of USAID Forward, and contributing to USAID Ethiopia’s initiative to improve early grade reading skills of 15 million children.



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Last updated: May 21, 2015

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