Information by Country

Ethiopia: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Ethiopia, with a population of 75 million, has many ethnic groups speaking different languages or dialects. The country is no stranger to environmental and political crises, including drought, famine and border conflict.
In 1998, the Government adopted an Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP), and primary school net enrolment rates have increased considerably. Enrolment of girls has particularly gone up, and the gender gap has narrowed.

Barriers to girls’ education

  • Social and cultural factors affecting girls.
  • Parental and societal attitudes, as well as traditional practices, such as child marriage, the dowry system and female genital mutilation/cutting.
  • A shortage of conducive learning environments; schools often lack girl-friendly facilities, such as sanitary latrines and clean water.
  • Long distances to schools and unsafe roads, resulting in parents keeping daughters at home to protect them from sexual abuse and other violence.

UNGEI in action

United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) was launched in 2005. The partnership known as Partnership for Girls Education aims at promoting girls’ education at the primary level and accelerating the ongoing initiatives, with an emphasis on marginalized areas. 

Key initiatives

  • Advocacy and social mobilization.
  • Creating conducive learning environments through child-friendly schools.
  • Construction of schools near communities, e.g., Alternative Basic Education Centres.


Ministry of Education, Save the Children Alliance, UNESCO, UNICEF, USAID, Women’s Standing Committee in Parliament, regional education bureaus, Girls’ Education Department at the Regional Education Bureau, the Regional Women’s Affairs Office in the Prime Minister’s Office and regional women’s associations.

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

Fast Track Initiative (FTI), Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and sector-wide approaches to planning (SWAPs); Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and UN Development Assistance frameworks exist at the national level.


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