Map of Ethiopia


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

USAID’s 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 15 years, USAID’s education activities in Ethiopia have addressed a variety of needs related to education access, equity, quality, and relevance. This has been accomplished in close partnership with the Ministry of Education. 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 therefore limited economic and developmental opportunity. Ethiopia’s first 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 zero on a comprehension test. These devastating results prompted USAID 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, USAID is 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 relevant national curriculum

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

  • Improving the professional capacity of grade 1-8 teachers

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

  • Strengthening parental and community involvement

USAID works 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 USAID is contributing $11 million through a grant to the World Bank.

In addition, USAID implements 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 - Technical Assistance: This activity focuses on establishing a firm foundation for high-quality teaching and learning in the early grades. It trains teachers and develops curriculum and associated teaching and learning materials in order to improve reading in primary schools. As of June 2015, the activity had successfully developed a new national reading curriculum and more than 200 textbooks for seven mother tongue languages, printed and distributed approximately 2.6 million textbooks and teacher guides, and trained more than 130,000 primary school teachers who are now prepared to implement the revised reading curriculum. Working in close partnership with the Ministry of Education, USAID will impact more than 75 percent of primary school children nationwide.

  • Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed – Community Outreach: activity will increase access to appropriate reading materials, provide children with additional and much needed opportunities to practice reading at home, in the larger community and in schools, and strengthen parental and community support for reading while at the same time increasing the capacity of Ministry of Education and regional state education bureaus through joint implementation of activities.
  • Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement DevelopedMonitoring and Evaluation: This activity mainly focuses on monitoring and evaluation of early grade reading fluency and comprehension.
  • USAID’s Building the Potential of Youth: A workforce development activity that targets unemployed and underemployed youth in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Tigray regions. This activity incorporates many of the best practices and directives outlined in the Agency’s Youth Policy. 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 for them to achieve economic self-sufficiency, while building the capacity of local institutions to continue this work in the long term. Rural youth will 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.
  • Improving Early Grade Reading through three Ethiopian Non-governmental Organizations: Working in three regions, these activities develop supplementary reading materials, organize reading corners and clubs, and strengthen parental and community engagement around reading activities as part of USAID Forward. Together, these activities directly contribute to USAID’s goal of improving the early grade reading skills of 15 million children in Ethiopia.



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Last updated: October 21, 2016

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