Broadening an access to the already advantaged is pleasant news to hear about, but giving an access to those deprived of any access is like curing a patient who suffered from a long sustained illness and thus having difficulties in day-to-day activities. Hence, therefore providing an access to education for those in hard-to-reach areas and for those with financial and other sorts of challenges is like joining a landlocked country to the gates of a sea or an ocean. Providing access to education for those in need is more significantly enabling them to enjoy a spark from non-stagnant galaxy of knowledge. Since not all children have an easy access to basic education, enabling those in need but also with difficulty to have an opportunity is what really matters most. All these could be done thorough opening boarding schools in areas that demand for such an access and that is what Eritrea has been committed for.
Boarding schools in Eritrea started in the pre-independence period in some liberated areas. During those times there was a school by the name “Zero”. Zero School was the very center which educated a number of nationals. This school served as a platform for the development of Eritrea’s educational system. It also served as a center of research and development of national curriculum and mother tongue education policy. This school also nurtured teachers, technicians, health care professionals, operators, and other professionals in different disciplines. All professionals trained in Zero proved to be “Change Agents” when deployed in any work area. The experiences acquired form this school has served for the implementation of such like educational policy that opens a venue for the disadvantaged areas in the post-independence Eritrea.
The EPLF also opened Satellite Boarding schools in different areas of the country such as in Asmat, Baqula, Mograib, Jerbet and all these schools continued to show progress in the post-independence period. Since the wake of independence, the expansion of boarding schools has continued to meet and address the imbalances created by colonial powers in educational access all over the country. There are now 11 boarding schools having 7,242 students, the 1,698 of who are females. All the students that have been educated in the boarding schools are from all nine ethnic groups of the country. Besides the 11 boarding schools, there are 28 para-Boarding schools that accommodate 2,710 students, the 747 are female learners which are partially funded by the Government and local communities.
Boarding schools in Eritrea have been introduced to enable students make maximum use of the schooling opportunity provided for them. The existing boarding schools of the country are now playing a vital role in narrowing opportunity gaps and to that end 12.7 of annual budgetary allocation of the ministry of Education have been used in the development of boarding schools. The ultimate goal of opening such like schools does not need too much detail. Its main target is to enable students develop know-hows in different disciplines, and besides that boarding schools have mainly been center for nurturing competent, talented and committed nationals who can exert efforts for self-improvement and growth of national economy.
What the children with economic, geographical, and other sorts of challenges lack most is proper care and attention and what the boarding schools do is playing a fostering and caring role to all students. More importantly the opening of boarding schools in Eritrea is to prevent any wastage of human power.
Boarding schools in Eritrea have generally been venues that opened free schooling to the disadvantaged parts of the Eritrean society. Through the opening of these schools access to junior and secondary level education for students who face different schooling problems due to school-village distance have been alleviated by a great deal. Due to measures that have been taken to encourage people send their children to nearby schools and if not possible to boarding schools, there have a promising enrolments of students. In the period between 2007 and 2013 alone 42,922 students and the 8,744 of whom are female learners have become beneficiaries of the schooling opportunity opened in different boarding schools.
All the students nurtured in the boarding schools have been exemplary not only in leading and enjoying modern lifestyle but also in influencing their respective communities.
But, as is difficult but not impossible to register 100% success, there have been vivid deficit that could affect the boarding schools in a number of ways. Some of the challenges and limitations in the boarding schools include: low or nominal enrolments of students from some ethnic groups, insufficiency or lack of general electricity service, lack of efficient infrastructure and other relevant utilities in some boarding schools, and low school performances which registered not more than an average achievement of 78.5 % between 2007 and 2012. There is almost no community participation or is very nominal in most of the boarding schools.
The overall achievement in the expansion of boarding schools is, however, a promising one. If community and stockholders involvement is enhanced further than its present situation, there is no doubt that boarding schools would continue to bring tremendous changes in educating more disadvantaged parts of the society. Along with all the improvements to be carried out towards enhancing the effect of boarding schools in changing the lifestyles of nationals, endeavors need to be exerted so as to boost school enrolments and to register more satisfying achievements.
The benefits of studying at a boarding school are multifaceted in nature. For instance, the students live and study as well as learn societal values not far from their school compound. The students enjoy socialization there, they live and learn there, and generally they enjoy all in one within their school premises.