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Ethiopia Education Facts


The level of education is low in Ethiopia. Only half of the adults can read and write. Then, however, there has been a rapid improvement in recent years. The school system has been extensively expanded during the 2000s and 2010s and most children now attend school for at least a few years.

State grants for education more than doubled in a few years in the early 2000s. Just before the turn of the millennium, only one in three children attended school at all. Nowadays, most children start school and just over half complete the first eight-year stage, which must be compulsory and free of charge.

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

However, according to critics, the aim has been too focused on quantity – the number of children in school – at the expense of the quality of education, at all levels. The regional differences are also large.

The children should start school at the age of seven. Slightly more boys than girls receive formal education, but the gap has narrowed considerably. The proportion of children who continue to the corresponding high school and upper secondary school has also increased in the 2000s and 2010s and amounts to just under a third. Here, too, there are more boys than girls.

The teacher shortage is large and the classes very large, especially as the number of children in school has increased so rapidly. Reading and writing skills are particularly low among women. Distance learning is provided for adults.

Children have traditionally been taught in Amharic. Nowadays, states can choose local languages ​​in schools, but materials are often scarce. English is the language of instruction in the upper classes and in universities and colleges.

The country’s largest university is located in Addis Ababa. There are a number of state and private universities and other higher education institutions. In college, male students are twice as many as women.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

85.4 percent (2015)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

55 (2011)

Reading and writing skills

49.0 percent (2015) 1

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

27.1 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

27.1 percent (2015)

  1. Source: UnescoSources



Advice for reconciliation is formed

December 25

Ethiopia sets up a reconciliation council to find a solution to the ethnic contradictions and put an end to the ethnically motivated violence. According to the UN, at least 2.4 million people have been fleeing ethnic violence in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy began his reform policy in the spring of 2018.

Oromos and Somalis clash

December 14

About 20 people are killed and around 60 injured in violent clashes between Oromos and Somalis in southern Ethiopia, on the border with Kenya. The unrest erupts in an area that both Oromos and Somalis claim, and the two peoples groups regularly fight there. In 2017, over a million people in the area were driven from their homes because of ethnic violence.

First car free day

December 9

On Ethiopia’s first car-free day, the main roads are blocked off and thousands of people in seven cities leave the car at home and walk instead. The idea is that the car-free day should be repeated on the last Sunday of each month with the goal of reducing emissions and promoting a healthier lifestyle.


Opposition leaders become head of the electoral authority

November 22

Opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa, who recently returned to Ethiopia after many years in exile (see December 2010), is appointed head of the electoral authority responsible for organizing the general elections in 2020. Prime Minister Abiy has promised that the 2020 elections will be free and fair. Mideksa was one of the leaders during the demonstrations after the disputed election in 2005. She was imprisoned, but pardoned and left the country in 2010.


Troubled in Oromia

October 30th

Security forces clash with OLF rebels in Oromia for several days. An OLF leader who recently returned from Eritrea is prevented by his own supporters from traveling in the region, as they fear that the leader is thinking of traveling around and advocating disarmament.

First female head of state

October 25th

Parliament elects Sahle-Work Zewde as new president. She thus becomes Ethiopia’s first female head of state. Zewde is a diplomat with long experience of working within the UN.

The President resigns

October 24th

Following discussions within the ruling coalition EPRDF, President Mulatu Teshome announces his resignation. No reasons for departure are stated. Tushome has been president for five years. His term of office is six years. The President of Ethiopia has a mainly ceremonial role, while the government has the executive power.

Peace agreement with ONLF

22 October

The government signs a peace agreement with separatist ONLF. Thus, more than three decades of uprising in the country’s Somali, eastern part are formally over. ONLF was formed in 1984 to fight for self-determination for the Somali people (see Political system). ONLF will now engage in peaceful struggle for Somalis. In July, the ONLF was removed from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist groups. A month later, OMLF announced a unilateral ceasefire.

Half women in government

October 16

Prime Minister Abiy scales his government down to 20 members. Half of the ministers are women, including the Minister of Defense and the Minister of a newly established peace ministry, under which both the police force and the intelligence services sort. The new Minister of Defense, Aisha Muhammed, comes from the poor region of Afar and has previously held other ministerial posts. Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil is the former President of Parliament. Abi’s old government had 28 ministers, five of whom were women.

Airline opens to Somalia

October 13

A direct flight line between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu in Somalia is opened, having been closed for 41 years. The route should be serviced four times a week. The new airline is part of Ethiopia’s approach to neighboring countries on the Horn of Africa. Somalia and Ethiopia have on several occasions fought battles over the right to different territories.

Tigranic rebels return

October 9

As part of the peace agreement with Eritrea, some 2,000 members of the rebel group the Tigreans Democratic Movement (TPDM) are returning to Ethiopia from Eritrea. TPDM was formed in 2001 as a result of the border war between 1998 and 2000.

Strong support for Abiy within EPRDF

October 5

At a party congress, Ethiopia’s ruling party alliance elects EPRDF on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as party chairman with 176 yes votes to 1 no vote. The vote shows that Abiy has strong support in the EPRDF for its reform policy and the peace process with Eritrea.


The violence is spreading in the country

September 26th

The escalating violence in parts of the country continues when young people from different ethnic groups congregate in an area on the border between the states of Oromia in central Ethiopia and Benishangul-Gumuz in the west. The youths fight each other with stones and knives, and at least 44 people are killed according to state media. The unrest erupted on September 26 when public servants in Benishangul-Gumuz were killed by unknown perpetrators. During the following week, some 70,000 residents flee the violence according to the UN agency Ocha. The military is called in to calm down the situation. At least 58 people were killed in Addis Ababa in September in the area of ​​violence between Oromo and minority people. In the south, violence between Oromo and the minority goat is reported to have forced close to one million people to flee the country.

New agreement with Eritrea

September 16th

As a step in the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the two countries’ leaders sign an agreement in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with the aim of strengthening the ceasefire and security in the region. Participating in the ceremony include UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Violence erupts in Addis Ababa

September 15th

The riots are ongoing for two days in Addis Ababa and some suburbs. At least 23 people are killed (according to state media; according to Amnesty International)is the death figure 58), among other things in clashes with riot police. The country’s police chief admits that five people were shot dead by the police. A day later, protesters (mostly young men) streamed out onto the capital’s streets in protest of police action. They block off roads and force shops to close. This weekend’s rally is one of several that has occurred since the Abiy government began its reform policy in April. According to the government, the riots are organized and aim to sabotage the government’s reforms and the peace process with Eritrea. The popular dissatisfaction with Abiyy’s failure to stem the outbreak of violence seems to be growing. According to many Addis Ababa residents, these are attacks organized by Oromo against minorities from southern Ethiopia.September 2018). Altogether, about 3,000 people in Addis Ababa are arrested with suburbs over the weekend, according to the city’s police chief. Some observers believe that the violence has ethnic motives, while others point out that they are organized by forces that oppose Abi’s reform agenda.

OLF warriors return

September 15th

Tens of thousands of people welcome leading representatives of the previously banned resistance group OLF as they return to Ethiopia after making peace with the Abiy government (see August 2018). In July, the government claimed a terrorist stamp on the group. More than 1,300 OLF fighters have since returned home from Eritrea and are now to wage a “peaceful fight” for the Oromo people. The previously banned group Ginbot 7 has also returned after similar settlements with the government. Abiy is himself oromo.

The border with Eritrea opens

11 September

An important border crossing is opened between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The crossing at Burre was closed at the outbreak of the war in 1998. The border crossing gives Ethiopia access to the port of Assab.

Opposition leaders return from exile

September 10

Berhanu Nega, who led the armed opposition group Ginbot 7, returns to Ethiopia after a decade in exile. In July 2018, the government claimed the terrorist stamp against the group. Berhanu now says he wants to contribute to Abii’s reform process with peaceful means.


Somali leaders are arrested

August 28th

Police arrest Abdi Mohamed Omar, commonly called Abdi Iley, former leader of Ethiopia’s Somali region. This is after riots in Jijiga, the capital of the region, and other nearby cities. Abdi Mohamed Omar is accused of serious human rights violations and of having fueled ethnic conflicts. He was forced out of his post on August 6 after the violence erupted in Jijiga. At least 20 people were killed and thousands were forced to flee as mobs attacked ethnic minorities. Several Orthodox churches were burned down and five priests were murdered.

“Free elections as planned 2020”

August 25th

Abiy Ahmed said at a press conference that the 2020 parliamentary elections will not be delayed because of his reform program. He emphasizes that his party, the EPRDF, will relinquish power if it loses the election, that the election will be “completely democratic” and that steps have been taken for an impartial election commission. According to the Prime Minister, the IMF has pledged $ 1 billion in support of the reform work, which is largely about reducing the state’s influence, not least on the economy. According to the Prime Minister, measures must also be taken to create more room for the opposition.

Agreement with OLF

August 7th

The government enters into an agreement with the guerrilla group Oromo’s Liberation Front (OLF) to “cease hostility”. OLF was stamped by Addis Ababa as a terrorist organization from 2014 to June 2018.

Eritrean Airlines flies to Addis Ababa

5 August

Eritrea’s national airline Eritrean Airlines makes its first commercial flight to Ethiopia in 20 years when their plane lands in Addis Ababa. On the plane are Eritrea’s tourism minister and the country’s transport minister.


Amnesty for political prisoners

23 July

Parliament is undergoing an amnesty for political prisoners, thousands of whom have been released since Prime Minister Abiy came to power in April. The new law on impunity applies to individuals and groups who are either investigated or convicted of treason, armed rebellion or violation of the Constitution.

Air traffic to Eritrea resumes

July 18

The first 20-year flight between Ethiopia and Eritrea takes place when Ethiopian Airlines takes off from Addis Ababa Airport. The aircraft is quickly booked and an extra flight is made later the same day. The route should be serviced daily. The resumed air traffic between the two countries is part of the recently concluded peace and reconciliation agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many family members and friends separated during the war state can now see each other again.

Eritrea opens its embassy

July 16

Prime Minister Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias are present when the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa reopens after being closed since the outbreak of the war in 1998.

Historical visit by Eritrean president

July 14

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki visits Addis Ababa for the first time since the border war broke out in 1998. The visit is described as historic and Isaias is met by both Prime Minister Abiy and thousands of cheering Ethiopians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags. During the three-day visit, the leaders of both countries will continue to work on the agreements reached in recent days.

Peace treaty with Eritrea

July 9

The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is over, the two neighboring countries announce in a joint statement. At a meeting in the capital of Eritrea, Asmara, Prime Minister Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias sign the “Joint Declaration on Peace and Friendship”, which states that “the war between the countries ends and a new era of peace and friendship begins”. Diplomatic relations will now be re-established, and trade relations, transport and communications will be established. According to Eritrean media, Ethiopian Airlines starts flying passengers between Asmara and Addis Ababa in a week. Direct telephone lines have been opened for the first time in two decades. Ethiopia has asked the UN to lift sanctions against Eritrea, including the arms embargo and the travel bans for individuals.

“Relationships should be normalized”

July 8

Prime Minister Abiy travels to Eritrea and continues reconciliation talks with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. After the meeting, Abiy says that both leaders have agreed to normalize relations between the countries, open to air services, give Ethiopia access to Eritrean ports and introduce freedom of movement across the border for residents. The countries will also open embassies in each other’s capitals.

Prison managers are dismissed

July 4th

Prime Minister Abiy dismisses five prison chiefs who are suspected of having violated human rights and committed misconduct. Abiy says that the inmates’ needs have not been met and that legal investigations should be initiated against the fired bosses. The government has released tens of thousands of prisoners since Abiy became prime minister in April 2018.

Terrorist stamp on Ginbot 7, OLF and ONLF is lifted

July 3

At the suggestion of the Abiyah government, the federal parliament repeals the terrorist stamp on opposition group Ginbot 7 and the separatist movements OLF and ONLF (see Political system).


“Air travel to Eritrea to resume”

June 27

Following the historic meeting with the Eritrean delegation, Prime Minister Abyi tells media that Ethiopia will soon resume air travel to Eritrea.

Eritrean delegation in Addis Ababa

June 26

Ethiopia receives a delegation of diplomats from Eritrea in Addis Ababa where representatives of the two countries discuss how to proceed to bring a definitive end to the border conflict.

Two dead in attacks against Abyi

June 23rd

Two people are killed and 154 are injured when a grenade is thrown into a crowded square in Addis Ababa where Prime Minister Abyi gives a speech about his new political reform program to tens of thousands of audiences. About 30 people are arrested, including nine police officers who are suspected of neglecting security at the manifesto.

“Ginbot 7 ends with armed attacks”

June 22

The banned, terrorist-stamped opposition group Ginbot 7 announces that it will cease armed attacks in the country as a result of Prime Minister Abyi’s reform program. Abyi has promised economic reforms and improved relations with Eritrea. He has since his release in April released a series of imprisoned dissenters, including Andargachew Tsige, one of Ginbot 7’s top leaders.

Eritrea sends a delegation to Ethiopia

June 20

In a first comment following Ethiopia’s announcement that the Addis Ababa government should fully comply with the UN Commission’s decision on the demarcation of the 2000 peace agreement, Eritrean President Afwerki said his government should send a delegation to Ethiopia so that the parties could speak directly to each other about the event development.

Approaching Somalia

June 15

Prime Minister Abiy visits Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, where he is welcomed by the country’s president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Both leaders talk about financial cooperation and various investments in infrastructure. More sensitive topics such as Ethiopia’s participation in the AU force Amisom in Somalia, or the paramilitary Liyu force committing serious human rights violations in Ogaden, are not addressed.

Success in conflict with Egypt

June 11

At a meeting with Egypt’s President al-Sisi in Cairo, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed guarantees that the huge construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile will not affect the water supply downstream in Egypt. After the meeting, Egypt releases 32 Ethiopian prisoners and allows them to return to their homeland on the same aircraft as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Protests in Badme

June 11

About 25,000 people in Badme and its surrounding area go out in peaceful demonstrations against the Ethiopian government’s decision to follow the 2002 Border Commission’s decision that Badme belongs to Eritrea.

Abiy: “border conflict to end”

June 5

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announces that Ethiopia intends to set a point for the border conflict with Eritrea and fully live up to the UN-backed border commission’s decision after the end of the war 2000. Several other reforms are also promised, including opening key parts of the economy to foreign investment. At the same time, Parliament is also suspending the state of emergency which, according to the previous decision, would have been valid for another couple of months.


Ginbot 7-conductor released

May 29th

Andargachew Tsige, senior leader of the banned and terrorist-stamped opposition group Ginbot 7, is pardoned “under special circumstances”. During the past week, 575 other prisoners were pardoned for the same reason. Andargachew Tsige was imprisoned, accused of planning terrorist acts (see July 2014). Several thousand prisoners have been released from Ethiopian prisons since the beginning of the year.


Abiy visits Djibouti

April 30th

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visits Djibouti on his first trip abroad as head of government. He discusses regional security and trade with the neighboring authorities.

Abiy renews his government

April 19

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reforms his government. Of the 16 ministers, 10 are brand new as government members. The transformation is an attempt by Abiys to strengthen confidence in the government after two years of repeated protests against the EPRDF coalition, with hundreds of dead as a result. On the same day, the EPRDF-dominated parliament elects its first female president, Muferait Kemil, former minister responsible for women’s rights.

Abiy becomes prime minister

2 April

The newly elected President of the EPRDF Abiy Ahmed Ali takes up the post of Prime Minister. Thus, for the first time during the 27-year rule of the EPRDF, the country will receive a head of government who is unlucky. In his installation figures, Abiy sets a conciliatory tone and holds out an olive branch to both the opposition and neighboring Eritrea. He also apologizes to those injured during the hostile protests of recent years.


Ethiopia wants its own fleet

the 12th of March

When French President Macron visits Ethiopia, the two countries sign an agreement on deeper defense cooperation. Among other things, France will help Ethiopia to develop its own fleet. It is not clear where the Ethiopian fleet should be located, but the port of Djibouti is a likely place. The development of a fleet is part of Prime Minister Abi’s vision of a more integrated Horn of Africa with a growing international trade. Then the merchant ships must be protected from pirates. Ethiopia scrapped its former fleet when Eritrea gained independence in 1993 and Ethiopia lost its coast.

More than 1,100 arrested during the state of emergency

March 31st

State media reports that more than 1,100 people have been arrested for violating the state of emergency issued in mid-February. According to a spokesman for the body that monitors the state of emergency, the arrested persons must have been guilty of all kinds of crimes such as murder and firearms offenses.

Abiy becomes leader of EPRDF

March 27th

42-year-old Oromo Abiy Ahmed Ali is elected chairman of the power-bearing party alliance EPRDF. He will be the first orator on this very important political post.

Released dissidents are arrested again

March 26

Police arrest eleven well-known dissidents, including Eskinder Nega and Andualem Atrage, who were released in a major amnesty in February. The eleven were taken by police when they attended an event to celebrate the previous releases. According to the police, they did not have the arrested permits for the event and also had a signposted version of the Ethiopian flag popular with government critics. After ten days in custody, the prisoners are released.

Free Trade Agreement in Africa

21 March

Ethiopia is one of 44 countries to sign a Free Trade Agreement at the African Union Summit in Rwanda. The agreement must be ratified at the national level before the AFCFTA free trade area can become a reality, but it is seen as a historically important step towards increased trade exchange within Africa.


The head of government resigns – an emergency permit is introduced

February 16th

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announces his resignation. He says he has worked hard to solve Ethiopia’s problems and that he sees his departure as part of the solution. Hailemariam Desalegn announces that he will remain at his post until a successor is appointed. A few hours after Hailemariam Desalegn’s message, the authorities are announcing a six-month long state of emergency to prevent “chaos”. A new head of government is expected to be appointed when the ruling coalition EPRDF holds congress in March.

Protesters demand that prisoners be released

February 13

The Oromo people launch a three-day strike to put pressure on the authorities to really release the opposition politicians who had been pardoned a few days earlier. Stone-throwing protesters block the access roads to the capital. The strike is quenched after a day when the prisoners are released.

Hundreds of regime critics are pardoned

February 8

The state prosecutor pardons over 700 prisoners, among them blogger Eskinder Nega and politician Andualem Aragie, who is the vice-chairman of the opposition party Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ). Four days later, on February 12, Beleka Gerba, another prominent opposition politician, is freed. Gerba is Secretary General of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). He was sentenced in 2012 to eight years in prison, charged with conspiracy with rebel group Oromo’s Liberation Front (OLF). Nega and Aragie were sentenced to 18 years in prison and lifetime for conspiring with another prohibited movement, Ginbot 7. All three are released from prison in the middle of the month.

“Around a million flee from fighting”

February 5

The United Nations Agency for Migration (IOM) states that around one million people have been forced to flee the fighting which is regularly flaring up between the Oromo and Somali people in the eastern part of the country. The conflict concerns the right to land along the border between the states of Oromia and Somali.


Hundreds of prisoners are released

January 17

Opposition politician Merera Gudina is released from prison since the authorities laid charges against him and over 500 other prisoners. The release is the first step in the amnesty for imprisoned politicians that Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn promised in early January. According to Hailemariam, the aim is to “improve national cohesion and broaden the democratic platform”.

Ethiopia Best Colleges and Universities