Because Ethiopia is such a poor country, the Ministry of Education is strapped for financial resources. As a result, most children attend public school, which operates on a shift system.
The first shift usually begins at 8:00 A.M. and ends at noon. The second begins at 12:30 and ends at 4:30 in the afternoon. At 6:30 P.M. the adult night school begins.
There are more limitations in Ethiopia public schools. School libraries and science laboratories have few books and little or no equipment or resources. In addition, class sizes may reach 55 to 85 students for one teacher.
How do teachers teach under such conditions? Usually the teacher writes notes on a small blackboard and the students copy them into their notebooks. At home the students read and memorize what they have written that day. Because of the large number of students, only one exam is usually given each semester. It is possible for a student to spend 12 years in school and never write a complete sentence.
Ethiopia Catholic schools, however, are better off than the country overpopulated but underdeveloped public schools. Generally, the Catholic schools do not have shift systems and students are in class for most of the day. Sometimes Catholic schools produce their own textbooks; they also have functioning libraries and fairly well-equipped laboratories. Many of them also have organized extracurricular activities, such as swimming, hiking, arts and crafts and athletic teams. Six of the Catholic secondary schools have computer facilities for their students.
The Catholic Church of Ethiopia has limited resources, yet it invests much of its annual budget in education with the realization that an investment in the country education is an investment in its future.
These schools produce young men and women who have become the country leaders, teachers, nurses, doctors and businesspeople. Thanks to the tireless dedication of educators in this nation network of Catholic schools, Ethiopia may yet realize its potential.
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Brother Vincent is CNEWA’s Regional Director for Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Tags: Children Ethiopia Education Poor/Poverty Catholic Schools