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Eritrea Education Facts


For Eritrean children, schooling must be compulsory and free of charge for seven years from the age of seven. In reality, one in five children is not even enrolled in school. Illiteracy is widespread, just over a quarter of the Eritrean over 15 years cannot read and write. Poverty is an important reason for the low level of education.

The cost of school uniforms and books means that many parents cannot afford to let the children go to school. The school system is also severely disadvantaged after decades of war or war-like conditions in the country. There is no schoolhouse, teacher and teaching materials.

The regional differences are great; Among nomadizing people on the Red Sea coast in the south, there are more children who do not receive education than among Eritreans in the highlands. There are also fewer girls than boys in the higher classes, while the gender distribution is more even in the lower grades.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Eritrea, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

More than half of the children complete the first, five-year stage. About one in four pupils continue to the six-year post-secondary phase. Everyone who attends the fourth and final year must stay at a military boarding school, Sawa, to graduate. Conditions are reported to be very harsh.

In the first year courses the teaching takes place in the local languages ​​and to some extent in Arabic and Tigrinese, while English is used in the higher classes and in the university.

In September 2019, the authorities took control of seven middle schools run by Christian or Muslim communities. Among other things, several Catholic schools were affected. The authorities emphasized that the closures were in line with a 1995 decision to restrict religious communities’ ability to run schools.

Eritrea’s only university, in Asmara, closed in 2006 and has been replaced by a decentralized system with several smaller colleges led by military.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

37.4 percent (2017)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

39 (2017)

Reading and writing skills

73.8 percent (2015) 1

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

5.2 percent (2006)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

5.2 percent (2006)

  1. Source: UnescoSources



“30,000 Eritreans kidnapped since 2007”

A study done by the European Parliament says that up to 30,000 Eritreans have been robbed since 2007 and taken to the Sinai desert in Egypt, where they have in many cases been subjected to torture and their relatives pressed for money. The kidnappers are believed to have seized the equivalent of at least US $ 600 million, writes the report’s author, an Eritrean human rights activist living in Sweden and two Dutch researchers. The victims are robbed of refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan or in their homeland. According to the report’s authors, Sudanese and Eritrean authorities are involved in human trafficking.


Singers change sides

One of Eritrea’s most popular singers, Yohannes Tukabo, gets off on a regime-sponsored tour of the United States. Tukabo has previously been regime loyal.


“Prisoners are kept in underground holes”

Amnesty International claims that Eritrea has imprisoned at least 10,000 people for political reasons. Many of them are kept imprisoned in underground holes or shipping containers under “unbelievably harsh conditions,” Amnesty writes in a report. In the vast majority of cases, families are never told where their relatives are.


The TV channel al-Jazira is banned

The Ministry of Information forbids the Qatar-based TV company al-Jazira from broadcasting in the country and the company’s English-language channel is blocked. al-Jazira has reported on exile rites’ demonstrations against the government, abroad.


Failed coup attempt

January 21st

A couple of hundred soldiers with two tanks surround the Ministry of Information in Asmara, called Forto. The broadcasts on state radio and TV are interrupted after a communiqué is read in which it is necessary that the 1997 constitution should begin to apply. The TV chief must also have been forced in the communications to call for the release of all political prisoners. Of all the judgments, there is no organized coup attempt, and after a few hours everything seems to have returned to normal.

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