Federal Ethiopia is a unique, yet diverse country, boasting rich cultural heritages, unified by intense national pride and self-belief. The second most populated country in Africa, with a population of 93 million, 46 % of whom are below the age of 15, the activity of educating future generations is an overwhelming, yet vital task, supported by DFID on an inter-governmental basis.
In an ideal world, a ‘Gold Standard’ of quality education should be available to all, but practically and economically this cannot be achieved until the country becomes much wealthier. Alongside tangible infrastructural development such as roads, intellectual pathways to the outside world are needed in the form of quality international education. By comparison with Kenya, the provision for international education within the country is extremely limited, and focused entirely upon a small number of schools based in Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababa itself is a fast-developing capital city. Being the headquarters of the African Union it is dubbed the ‘Brussels of Africa’. As a city it has the third biggest number of diplomatic missions in the world, after London and Washington. A significant proportion of the customer base has the potential to pay in hard currency.
The Federal Government is intent on developing the growth of regional towns and celebrates a ‘Cities Week’ annually. Currently only a handful of schools outside Addis Ababa are recognized by the Ministry of Education as International Schools.
The development of a network of schools throughout the country, providing education that is internationally focussed would offer the following;
- The opportunity to acknowledge the importance of international education for all the federal areas, thus raising their self-esteem and ability to attract investment.
- The opportunity to support the growth of the Universities, by placing quality international schools alongside them. This will have an effect on the calibre of lecturers who will be attracted to taking up such positions. It is also likely that lecturers will stay in post longer, when they are satisfied that there children are happily settled in school. In the last ten years the number of universities has risen from three to 33.
- A mechanism to support investors who seek international education for their families. 2011 study in Bahir Dar has revealed that there are 41 international children being home-schooled due to parents’ unwillingness to opt into the education provision currently on offer in that town. Numerous instances illustrated the fact that yet more interested parties felt unable to commit themselves to settling in Federal Regional Centres due to the lack of international schooling for their children.
- The opportunity to market International Schooling throughout the Horn of Africa, attracting students from neighbouring, less stable countries to benefit and pursue internationally-accredited courses within a secure environment, thus bringing income into Ethiopia.
- With no international boarding school within Ethiopia, many diplomats send their children elsewhere is Africa to school, there are enormous opportunities here for development.