Following initial visits to Uganda and Malawi, a Commission delegation led by His Excellency Jakaya Kiwkete, the former President of Tanzania, met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Rt. Honourable Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa this week to present the Commission’s findings and the Learning Generation agenda. To support the meeting, the Commission prepared projections examining what Ethiopia could achieve by 2030 if it adopted the Learning Generation report recommendations. President Kikwete and Prime Minister Desalegn discussed the Commission’s findings and agenda for action. The meeting was also attended by the Ministers of Education, Finance and Economic Cooperation, as well as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister.
In recent years, Ethiopia has made significant strides with respect to expanding budgetary allocations to education, achieving nearly universal early childhood education, and increasing overall access to education leading President Kikwete to call Ethiopia “one of the leaders in the peer countries in Africa.” Drawing on his own experiences from the decade he led Tanzania – a period during which the country’s educational opportunity increased considerably – President Kikwete encouraged Ethiopia to marshal efforts to ensure educational access to girls in nomadic society, improve teacher quality and efficiency, and manage resources more effectively.
At the meeting, President Desalegn noted that education financing has been at the top of his agenda, and under his leadership teacher quality has improved. However, dropout rates remain high due to poverty and the nomadic nature of many communities. The Prime Minister acknowledged the role of donors in closing funding gaps by supporting domestic initiatives, and to that end he welcomed the idea of the Multilateral Development Bank investment mechanism proposed by the Commission. Commenting to the media following the meeting, President Kikwete remarked:
There are areas where Ethiopia can easily catch up by 2040, but there are areas where Ethiopia needs to do more. We need to do reforms in education. We need to raise investments in education. But of course as a Commission, we are also looking at the aspect of how the international community can support countries like Ethiopia to increase investments and give technical and financial support so that they can catch up and overcome the challenges that exist now in education.
President Kikwete also met with international leaders at an event hosted by the Ambassador of Norway to Ethiopia, Mr. Andreas Gaarder. Participants included the Ambassadors of Finland and the United Kingdom as well as country heads for the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF. The meeting brought together core actors working to support Ethiopia’s education sector and provided another high-level opportunity to share the Learning Generation report findings and generate support for the Commission’s recommendations. The participants pledged to remain actively engaged in Ethiopia’s efforts to implement the Commission’s recommendations. President Kikwete and Ambassador Gaarder agreed to continue their discussions in January at the African Union (AU) High-Level Dialogue on Gender Equality and Education in Addis Ababa on the margins of the AU Summit where President Kikwete will present the Learning Generation report findings.