Eritrea’s school calendars approximately range from mid September to mid June with some small breaks during the academic year and a summer vacation that lasts two months. Eritrea’s Institutions of Higher Education have opened their doors last week, Monday 18th September 2023, to start a new academic year. Eritrean colleges provide permanent institution for education and living accommodation for students. Therefore, students are obliged to spend more time inside college campus with peers than families.
In Eritrea the right to education is a fundamental right of the people. The number of schools of all levels have exponentially increased, student enrollments have significantly grown, and gender gaps have narrowed. The country also witnessed the fastest progress in youth and adult literacy rates. In 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics states that Eritrea has achieved one of the largest increases in youth literacy anywhere in the world over the past 50 years.
At independence, Eritrea has inherited one institution of higher education, Asmara University, which was established by Italian missionaries in late 1950s. Its caring capacity was limited to 1200 students per year which was far from the educational demands of the country. The government then decided to expand higher education to absorb enough students to tertiary education. Significant measures have been taken to the expansion of tertiary education in order to align with the country’s development objectives and priorities. That expansion provided a wider opportunity for the previously isolated populations to participate in higher education. Eritrean colleges are increasingly becoming representative of the diversity of its people.
Education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development. Providing universal access and free education is the key to Eritrea’s continued ascent to economic growth, social justice, equality, and national integration. SDG4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. Eritrea is re configuring its entire education system to meet such a lofty goal. Thus, Eritrea needs to invest huge sums of money on higher education to serve the nation’s best developmental interest.
Its now time for students to say goodbye to summer vacation and their families and start college life. Educators and administrators alike must devise strategies to maintain the hope and optimism of the learners. They must formulate policies that can create a college experience that fosters academic performance and optimizes the psychological well being of the youth.
Written by Simon Weldemichael