In the Eritrean calendar the month of September is the beginning of the scholastic year. Students who have been on vacation for almost two solid months, July and August, are observed flocking to their respective schools wearing different uniforms signaling that the schools are once again open to embrace students for the coming ten months. The students who have been in vacation for so long come together and hug each other as a sign of welcoming each other and a gesture of on how much they have missed each other.
During the summer, when schools are closed for almost two months, students spend their vacation engaged in different activities mostly in economic and social activities. Students above 18 years of age are dispatched to their respective localities for the summer work programs that are organized on annual basis. These programs engage the students in different activities including construction and maintaining roads, maintenance of school furniture, planting trees, and other social activities.
The summer work programs are mainly conducted during the morning hours. And during the afternoon hours students are mainly observed sharing experiences among each other in groups especially those in the same neighborhood. Others play football divided into different teams while others do different things of their interest.
September is also a month during which kids at age of 6 are for the first time experiencing of going to attend formal education. They finish two years of their kindergarten experience and come out to join formal education of grade one. For those kids September is a special month for them for they are joining the youth population.
Eritrean education can be categorized in two ways, primary and secondary education. Children are sent to schools normally at the age of six.
Primary education includes five years of elementary school and two years of middle school. At the age of six children are enrolled for elementary education. The medium of education at the elementary level is the mother tongue. At the middle school students are taught different subjects like English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, geography, history and civics. Extra-curricular activities like sports and music are also included in the daily activities of the students.
High school education in Eritrea is from grade 9 to 12. From grade 9 to 11 students learn at their respective schools and upon completion of grade 11 they go to Sawa to join the Warsai-Yikealo High School for their grade 12 education and participate in the matriculation exam.
After completion of their grade 12 education in Sawa, those who scored grades that could enable them join colleges go to colleges and those unable to score the required grades go either to Sawa Vocational School or to other educational institutions to continue their education. Hence, the maxim of the Government regarding education is that every child in Eritrea should have access to education.
Eritrean education aims at providing equal opportunities to one and all. After independence the government of Eritrea made huge investment to ensure that every member of the society has access to education. To date it is common in Eritrea to see schools almost in every village of the country. The remotest parts of the country which have never been exposed to education have now schools in their backyard at the elementary level. Every sub-zone has at least middle schools ranging from five to ten and at least one high school. Schools are mushrooming in every corner of the country.
Enrollment of students is also encouraging. In some parts of the country girls were not allowed to go to school due to customary practices. Girls were not allowed to expose themselves in public. They should stay at home.
But to day the enrollment of girls is high and ever increasing thanks to the rigorous awareness campaigns conducted by the different sectors of the society. And to day to see girls going to school is normal phenomenon.
So now we are in the first week of the month of September. Students starting from kindergarten to high school are again back to their respective schools. Especially the Asmara streets are packed with uniformed students some going to school and other going back home. And every one feels refreshed and agile to embrace the new season during which every one is expecting a peaceful and happy summer as ever and ever.
Wish you a happy school year!