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Eritrea's adult literacy rate improves to 80%

January 17, 2013 — Eritrea's adult literacy rate improved to 80 percent, owing in large part to its Adult Education Program, according to Tiquabo Ayimut, head of curriculum planning and development in the Ministry of Education.

In an interview held with state media, Tiquabo disclosed that since the Adult Education Program was launched in 2000, more than 600,000 citizens have become beneficiaries.

Eritrea's success in curbing adult illiteracy has not gone unnoticed. In 2002, the country received the International Literacy Award from UNSEO for its Adult Education Program.

More recently, Eritrea is on track to meet the UN's Millennium Development Goal 2, which requires developing nations to achieve universal primary education by the target date of 2015.

According to the Ministry of Education, an estimated 234,000 Eritrean children aged 7 to 11 are still not attending schools — most from pastoralist and rural communities.

To tackle this problem, Eritrean officials visited neighboring Sudan, which shares similar nomadic populations. After observing what worked for them, officials drafted a policy framework in 2009 towards educating pastoralist communities, which so far has produced encouraging results.

“Flexibility is the key for nomadic education,” said Dr. Hamid El-Bashir, a UNICEF Representative in Eritrea. “No one size fits all, because all nomadic communities have different social, economic and environment conditions, and their own lifestyles.”

The Ministry of Education has set a goal of reaching a literacy rate of 85 percent by the year 2015. To meet this objective, the government spends 45 percent of its annual budget on education and provides its citizens with universal education.

Adult (15+) Literacy Rates in the Horn 


Source: UNICEF

Eritrea's literacy rates since independence:
    1991: 43.5%
    1999: 52%
    2002: 62%
    2007: 68%
    2013: 80%
    2015: 85% (target goal)

Eritrea's adult (15+) literacy rate now stands at 80%. Photo: Eritrean classroom in Asmara

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