Educational inequalities among children and young people in Ethiopia

Type Working Paper
Title Educational inequalities among children and young people in Ethiopia
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Designed constitutionally, the Ethiopian education sector has been one of the most important
pro-poor sectors over recent years, with a percentage of public education spending to total
government spending of 21 per cent, and to GDP 4 per cent in 2012/13. As the result of this,
school enrolment (Grades 1-12) doubled from about 10 million students in 2002/3 to over 20
million in 2013/14. Coupled with the public educational expenditure, the government has also
made a number of policy changes in different areas of the sector. Examples include the
introduction of the “O” class programme and non-formal preschool service called the Child‐
to‐Child delivery system aiming to address marginalised children who have little or no access
to preschool education. Additionally, targeting better access, equity, efficiency and quality,
some other reforms were introduced in line with the latest two Education Sector Development
Programmes (2005/6-2009/10 and 2010/11- 2014/15). Of note is the General Education
Quality Improvement Program, designed to support quality improvements for all primary and
secondary schools, and the expansion of higher education, particularly at university level,
where the number of public universities increased from eight in 2008/9 to 31, with more than
0.62 million students, in 2013/14.
Yet, in spite of the unprecedented enrolment at all levels, the education sector still resembles
a pyramid, with varying degrees of access for different groups, where nine out of ten children
of appropriate age are enrolled in primary education, two out of ten in secondary education
and only one out of ten at university. There could be several reasons that explain the pyramid
shape of the sector, and the disparity among various groups of individuals in particular. This
paper analyses the educational inequalities that may exist among different groups of children
and young people in Ethiopia using Young Lives longitudinal data collected over four rounds
of surveys, for two cohorts of children born in 2001-02 (the ‘Younger Cohort’) and in 1994-95
(‘Older Cohort’).
This longitudinal data is of a quality that enables us to track the trajectory of educational
access, learning opportunities and outcomes over time and at times to make a comparison
between the two cohorts for the same age. We identify disparities that exist between children
of urban and rural households, children of the ‘rich’ versus the ‘poor’, being male versus
female, children of least educated versus more educated mothers, and children in different
regions compared to those who reside in Addis Ababa. We also formed groups of least
vulnerable and most vulnerable children using factor analysis, by combining the categorical
variables of maternal education, household’s wealth index and orphan status of the children.
Using these grouping variables, we organised the analysis over four stages of development:
early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.

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