The 20 years of independence have been a period of Eritrea’s pride in a number of ways. One couldn’t imagine any sort of achievement without implementing the groundwork that contribute for comprehensive development in varied sectors that require skilled and knowledge-driven human power that would in turn give impetuous to all sorts of development. The key element that plays a determinant role in affecting almost every sector is thus education. Educating societies is therefore building a nation. Unless all members of a society are educated, there would be no comprehensive individual or national development. The education sector in the past 20 years has solved much of the nation’s deficits through skills that have been acquired in many areas of specializations. An educational system which is directed under the principle “Education for All” has enabled even the remote parts of the nation become beneficiaries of access to education.
While building an educational system that satisfies both personal and national interests, intensive researches were conducted so as to develop a viable national curriculum that meets the demands of the contemporary world. Since curriculum functions as a means of implementing the set out goal of building a sustainable educational system that lays groundwork for effective learning and teaching process, a functionally relevant curriculum was designed.
As part of the overall nationwide symposiums being held by various sectors under the team “ Eritrea: twenty years of dignity”, the Education Ministry’s symposium was conducted from 25th to 27th of February at the Expo Hall and became a good evaluative moment for the overall educational journey of the past twenty years. The department of curriculum development was in the early days of independence engaged in designing functional curriculum with an approach to an educational system characterized by knowledge rather than content based teaching system. Curriculum development passed three phases of development mainly in revising the curriculum and preparing educational materials for general education that ranges form grades 1-11.
Providing basic education to every citizen is compulsory and a fundamental human right in Eritrea. Educating senior citizens is also part of the over all educational policy. Such a broad educational plan grants a chance to those who never went to school at the right school-age.
The symposium was prepared in a way that represents the general achievements registered in different areas of educational activity such as general education, technical and vocational education, informal education and adult illiteracy eradication program, intensive teachers training program, as well as current developments and future prospects of institutions of higher education.
A paper about national curriculum development process presented on 26th of February by Dr. Araya Habtay from the Department of general education highlighted the three phases of curriculum development which he classified as rehabilitation phase from 1991-1995, developmental phase form 1996-2001 and the third consolidating phase from 2002-2011 has been practically implemented on the ground.
Eritrea’s educational curriculum gives emphasis to equal access to educational opportunities, promotion of science and technology in a way that relate theory with practice which makes it a workable educational plan. The third or consolidating phase of the national curriculum consulted varied publications of educational policy which helped in the preparation of national curriculum framework. Since many global trends on educational developments were considered, the curriculum was developed to be broad, balanced, outcome-based and functionally relevant.
Progress registered in curriculum implementation from 2004-2011 based on local resources indicates that Besides preparing educational materials for students, finalizing teacher’s guide that facilitates diversified instructional approach, books for adult literacy and post literacy program along with other supportive materials have been provided. The continuous engagements in educational development plan have played due contribution in improving professional competence of curriculum developers. Stating the axiom that “Adults don’t learn for the sake of leaning” Dr. Araya, said that a curriculum should be drafted to bring change in people’s standards of living. He also cited Eritrea’s macro policy on education, which states that students should be cultivated to be multi-skilled. Such a skill could be achieved through vocational trainings.
The educational symposium also reflected the endeavors that have been taken to nurture citizens equipped with skills on the basis of individual interests. Some projections in the symposium portrayed students’ participation in different cultural and artistic activities that include creative and innovative products. One could easily draw future development of such creativities if supported with enriching courses.
A paper presented on the second day of the symposium was about the progress made in technical- vocational training. Highlighting the background of technical and vocational trainings in Eritrea, Mr. Tesfay Sium, director general of technical -vocational training in the Ministry of Education indicated that there has been good foundation in technical know-how at varied levels which corresponds with the National educational policy that states training qualified and competitive human power as a necessary requisite for national development. The paper on technical-vocational training highlights the early development in vocational education at varied levels.
A number of new vocational training centers that have been opened in different parts of the country have now graduated more than 27,000 students in different technical specialties.
Technical-vocational training was only provided in the Asmara Technical School, however, at this time, since the number of such institutions is steadily growing. The technical- vocational schools of Mai-Habar, Dembesko, Hagaz and Hamelmalo agricultural colleges, Asmara music school, Asmara arts school, Asmara school of commerce, and Pavoni technical institute have been significantly contributing in nurturing professionals in diverse specializations. The opening of Sawa technical-vocational training has added extra momentum to what has been achieved through the other colleges. Following extensive deliberations on the presented paper, Mr. Tesfay provided a picture about future prospects of enhancing technical-vocational training through the establishment of 5 additional institutions and other three vocational centers and the opening of business and Management College.
Achievements registered in illiteracy eradication are highly tremendous. The 25 centers of literacy that were functioning in the early days of independence have now reached to more than 800. Accordingly the participation of illiterate citizens has risen in great numbers. According to Eritrea’s definition of literacy, a person who has the ability to read, write and solve basic arithmetic operation with understanding is literate. The third paper which was presented in the symposium was about National Literacy Survey. Mr. Oqubamichael Habte yohannes, Head of the research unit at the ministry of education discusses about the intensive campaigns that have been carried out through out the country. On the basis of the aforementioned definition of literacy rate in Eritrea is now about 67%. Bering in mind that literacy rate has greater impact in driving all sort of development, the participants of the symposium forwarded suggestions towards taking aggressive measures in eradicating illiteracy, giving special attention to educating senior citizens as the findings show greater number of illiteracy in the elderly people.
The three-day symposium which portrayed a 20-year of educational journey, achievements registered and challenges that were addressed, current qualification of education, range of educational access and future action plans was closed on 27th of February.