Map of Ethiopia


Image of Ethiopian girls reading a textbook
USAID education programs help 15 million Ethiopian children improve their reading and writing skills.
Robert Sauers/USAID

Our mission in Ethiopia supports the Agency's Education Strategy and the mission’s development objectives by planning, managing, and monitoring activities that achieve results across multiple levels of the education system. For more than 20 years, our activities in Ethiopia have addressed a variety of needs related to access, equity, quality, and relevance. This has been accomplished in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and regional state education bureaus. Today, quality of education remains the biggest challenge and priority facing the Ethiopian education system.

International research has conclusively demonstrated that children who do not attain reading proficiency at the primary level are on a lifetime trajectory of limited educational progress and limited economic and developmental opportunity. Ethiopia’s first Early Grade Reading Assessment, funded by us in 2010, showed very low reading performance for first through third grade students across the country: approximately one-third of second graders were non-readers and approximately half scored zero on a comprehension test. These devastating results prompted us to prioritize early grade literacy, partnering with the Ministry of Education and regional state education bureaus, and linking with other donors to implement a comprehensive, country-wide approach to improving students’ learning outcomes. In Ethiopia, we are on track to improve the reading abilities of 15 million primary school children. Major activities supported by the mission include:

  • Improving the reading and writing skills of students in primary schools, with an increasing focus on vulnerable populations and traditionally underserved communities

  • Developing national curriculum in English and local languages

  • Providing quality materials to support instruction and out-of-school activities

  • Improving the professional capacity of 1st through 8th grade teachers

  • Improving the planning and management capacity of the primary education system at national, regional, district, and community levels

  • Strengthening parental and community involvement

We work closely with donor partners and the private sector to leverage support for its activities, including through the Ministry of Education’s $550 million multi-donor funded General Education Quality Improvement Program to which we are contributing $11 million.

In addition, we implement a workforce development activity which targets more than 34,000 unemployed and underemployed Ethiopian youth (ages 15 to 29).

Major Activities

  • Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed II Project: The USAID READ II projects seeks to boost the quality of literacy instruction and student support for 15 million children, including those at risk of failure and dropout caused by cognitive, emotional and physical effects of hunger, violence, and displacement. The project works to better equip teachers with effective early grade reading instruction techniques and materials in seven mother-tongue languages and English, while simultaneously building a culture of reading in the school, home and community.

  • Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed – Community Outreach: This activity increases access to appropriate reading materials; provides children with additional and much needed opportunities to practice reading at home, in the larger community and in schools; and strengthens parental and community support for reading while increasing the capacity of Ministry of Education and regional state education bureaus through joint implementation.

  • USAID’s Building the Potential of Youth: This workforce development activity targets unemployed and underemployed youth in the Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Tigray regions. It incorporates many of the best practices and directives outlined in the Agency’s Youth Policy, while incorporating a learning agenda to our work. It complements the mission’s existing agriculture and private sector development programs. Its primary goal is to help youth increase their assets and incomes through employment or better employment to achieve economic self-sufficiency. It also builds the capacity of local institutions to continue this work in the long term. Rural youth receive literacy, numeracy, and life skills training--alongside vocational and entrepreneurship development activities--through partnerships with training, small-business, and micro-finance institutions. This activity targets 30 districts and will reach 35,000 youth, with a focus on the most vulnerable—particularly women—and those transitioning out of pastoralism.

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Last updated: September 18, 2020

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