Young teachers: lighting up lives, illuminating communities, and brightening our nation

According to a broad array of regional and global rights-related conventions and declarations, education is a fundamental human right and is essential for the realization of all other human rights. Education also promotes individual freedom and empowerment, and a large body of empirical work from around the world has consistently and compellingly shown that it is a critical factor for promoting socioeconomic growth, reducing poverty and inequality, and driving sustainable development.

In Eritrea, education historically was in dire straits. It was highly restricted and the country’s overall enrolment and literacy rates were quite low, especially among girls and women. During colonization under Italy, the policy toward Eritrea was to “keep the Eritrean’s belly filled while keeping his brain empty”, while later, in the mid-1970s, as Eritrea was fighting for freedom, it was estimated that approximately 95 percent of Eritrean women were illiterate, a figure which was only slightly improved by the time of independence.

However, following Eritrea’s independence, much progress has been made. Today, education remains a central pillar of society, and the country aims to ensure equitable access and delivery of quality education at all levels for all citizens, guided by the principle of social justice.

Within both urban and rural areas, hundreds of new schools, learning centers, and libraries have been built, while older ones have been significantly renovated and upgraded. These developments have helped to increase capacity, reduce overcrowding, and raise enrolments across all levels. Parallel to these improvements, literacy has also been increased across all levels, with Eritrea’s increases in youth literacy being among the largest anywhere in the world over the past 50 years.

These multifaceted advancements are not only a powerful testament of Eritrea’s prioritization of and considerable investment in education, but also deeply reflective of the fundamental importance of educators – especially the country’s young teachers. Quite simply: without the young Eritrean men and women who teach, the dramatic and positive changes outlined above would not have been possible. Schools can be built, but teachers are needed to staff them. Educational resources may be provided, but teachers are the ones who will provide students with the requisite skills and tools to effectively and appropriately utilize them. National curricula, educational policies, and literacy goals may be established, but teachers are the ones to implement them and put them into practice.

The importance of Eritrea’s young teachers is exemplified in many ways. Through providing vital instruction and transmitting knowledge to students, young teachers are a means of implementing Eritrea’s various national education goals, helping to promote the realization of fundamental human rights in the country, and achieving inclusive socio-economic growth and development.

Alongside all of the above, Eritrea’s talented and committed young teachers are important because they are helping to instill in the wider society morals, values, and ethics, as well as serving as an essential source of encouragement and support in the lives of students nationwide. As powerful agents of socialization, our nation’s young teachers are also setting positive examples and modeling high standards for students. This dimension is particularly significant since teachers are also often the ones with whom students have the most contact and engagement.

Ultimately, much like candles that burn brightly, countless young teachers across Eritrea are quietly giving the best of themselves, lighting up our lives, illuminating our communities, and brightening our nation.

Written by Dr. Fikrejesus Amahazion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *