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Examining Education: An Assessment of 2015/16

Education is an important part of people’s lives. Historically, it has dramatically changed the way people think, and it is an important source of contemplation and understanding about happenings, affairs (personal or impersonal), events, and advancements around the world. People react differently according to their mindset and the knowledge they possess. They may be dedicated to self-improvement through education and the learning process. Some scholars claim that education is nothing more nor less than learning to think.

Thinking differently than the way one used to think before having some particular lesson. I assume it is a correct saying, but beyond thinking alone, one should note that education involves assessment and evaluation. This can serve to support action and encourage progress, improvement, and benefit.

Educational institutions – schools, colleges, universities (both private and government run) – continuously conduct progress evaluations and seek to implement necessary adjustments. This may be done differently, depending on the policies of the institutions in question. Some may meet annually or semi-annually, while others may conduct assessments more often (e.g. quarterly).

In Eritrea, the Ministry of Education is in charge of all matters related to education, and it regularly arranges seminars and meetings to assess progress or challenges. Recently, on 29 September 2016, the Ministry of Education conducted its Annual Assessment Day. The program was a detailed assessment of the various educational institutions throughout the nation, from basic elementary and high schools to technical and vocational training institutions.

In an introductory speech, the Minister of Education, Mr. Semere Russom, stated that the assessment focused on the previous year’s educational performances and also the administrative stability and work achievements of the various institutions.  He further introduced the theme of the education policy, “Education for Sustainable Development”.

As part of the National Society of Education and to fulfill the strategy of “Education for All” (undertaken after the 1990 Thailand meeting), Eritrea participated in several regional and international educational conferences between 2000 and 2015 (including in Dakar and Incheon). The country made important improvements in development of educational institutions, enhancing and implementing educational methodologies, introducing ICT, administrative and academic progress, the introduction of efficient data management procedures.

The Director General of the Division of General Education, Mr. Musa Hassen Naib, said that the recent assessment of educational quality proceeded effectively and efficiently. Moreover, while much has been achieved, much more work and research remains because there are still areas for improvement. The assessment explored national examination records, as well as outcomes of the Monitoring Learning Achievements executed in lower level schools.  According to the director, academic changes were initiated in 2003; since then, approximately 700 books have been published and distributed specifically designed for different levels of education. The aim of such procedures is basically to improve educational quality (e.g. promoting inclusive education). Furthermore, 400 teachers have completed various training programs toward improving their pedagogical and professional skills. Importantly, when the Division of General Education conducted its educational assessment of all the regional branches, it was able to discover health issues that challenged students; accordingly, it immediately extended approximately 3.6 million Nakfa for emergency kits to be available at all the facilities throughout the country.  As well, it was noted that apart from the other institutions, technical schools (privately owned and government run) have the opportunity to receive fourteen million Nakfa worth educational accessories.

In addition, during the past year and through the development of important educational partnerships, the Ministry of Education has sent qualified students to a number of foreign universities; these include, 72 students to study in the U.A.E, 25 to the People’s Republic of China, and 25 to Russia. These students will be enrolled in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs across a range of disciplines.  Importantly, these students join numerous others already enrolled in universities in Europe, Japan, India, Turkey, among others.

The respective education branches of the six administrative zones also presented a detailed report (featuring both qualitative and quantitative data) about their activities during the past two years, as well as describing their strategic work plans for the upcoming year. Additionally, the Warsay Yikealo Secondary School offered an insightful presentation. The Warsay Yikealo School represents the final stage of secondary education, and it offers a gateway towards career development for Eritrean youth.

The different teaching methodologies and programs (tutorial, peer education, co-curricular, and women empowerment programs) exercised in schools was also discussed, while the ICT branch and technical institutions gave informative presentations about their programs, progress, and challenges. The ICT branch explained that it is working to upgrade its systems in order to improve accessibility and effectiveness in all parts of the country. Encouragingly, one of the ICT branch’s positive steps has been its introduction of solar panels in various schools and educational institutions around the country; expanded and regular access to electricity has helped to improve the overall learning process and promoted positive educational outcomes. Last, the assessment meeting featured several high-quality research papers examining the important Learner Engagement Quality Program.

Overall, the main objective of the conference was to enhance the quality of education and human resource development in the nation. The conference featured numerous informative presentations, a great amount of data, important research, and a vibrant open session between the audience and officials that discussed an array of topics and issues. Ultimately, much has been achieved, there is still great room for improvement. Toward that end, all of the concerned institutions made their pre-arrangements for the upcoming year and ensured to remain committed to the enhancement and improvement of education.

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