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Adolescent education and learning in Ethiopia

Research report

Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: Adolescents at a school in Ethiopia Image credit:Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE 2019

The policy note and report on adolescent education and learning is one of a series of short reports presenting findings from baseline mixed-methods research as part of the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) longitudinal study (2015–2024).

Our research sample involves a survey with more than 6,800 adolescent girls and boys from two cohorts aged 10–12 years (younger adolescents) and 15–17 years (older adolescents), and more in-depth qualitative research with 240 adolescents and their families. The baseline data was collected in selected sites in Afar, Amhara and Oromia regional states and Dire Dawa city administration during 2017 and 2018.

We focus on adolescents’ perceptions of and experiences with accessing education and learning services in Ethiopia, paying particular attention to gender and regional differences, as well as those between adolescents with disabilities and those without.

Our research found that although adolescents’ and parents’ educational apparitions are generally high, there remain some significant barriers to adolescents accessing quality education. These include household poverty, overcrowded and poorly resourced classrooms, and limited capacity among teachers for positive discipline approaches.

The challenges facing adolescents in pastoralist regions (including a dearth of teachers trained in the local language) and adolescents with disabilities (due to chronic under investment in special needs education and social protection for vulnerable families) are particularly acute. We also found that early adolescence marks a watershed point for intervention, with transitions to upper-primary and secondary school needing more support given the increased salience of gender norms in adolescence and the higher opportunity costs of their schooling.

Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Joan Hicks, Sarah Baird, Workneh Yadete and Tassew Woldehanna