19 February 2003, NAZRETH, Ethiopia - The Ministry of Education (MOE) and UNICEF are kicking off a workshop today to develop innovative strategies and an action plan to promote girls' education in five regions that have wide gender gaps and low girls' school enrolment rates.
The workshop is part of the African Girls' Education Initiative (AGEI) designed to reach out to school girls and help them overcome the barriers to obtaining quality basic education. Girls' education is a core priority of UNICEF's Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP). UNICEF is actively working with Government counterparts, members of civil society and the private sector to make sure more Ethiopian girls enroll and stay in school.
"We must work together to become stronger advocates for an increased public demand for girls' education," said UNICEF Representative David Bassiouni speaking to the 40 educators attending the workshop. "We must build on strategic partnerships, including women's associations, NGOs and community orginisations. And we must involve all sectors, including health, water and HIV/AIDS prevention, because the educated girls of today will be the mothers and citizens of tomorrow."
Ethiopia has made tremendous strides in increasing school enrolment rates from 30 percent in 1996 to 51 percent today. However, there is a 20-percentage point gap that separates the enrolment rate of boys and girls nationally. The four-day workshop is specifically targeting Gambela, Benishangul, Oromia, the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) and Amhara regions.
''The Ministry of Education is actively working with UNICEF to close the gender gap within our schools, especially in these key regions,'' said Kassech Demmise, senior expert with the MOE's Women's Affairs Department. ''We want to make sure that all children in Ethiopia, girls and boys, have access to a quality education and that they stay in school with our favorouable education training policy and girls' education strategies.''
Ethiopia is one of the countries selected by UNICEF for the '25 by 2005' campaign, launched in December 2002, as part of a global effort to achieve gender parity for girls' and boys' school enrolment by 2005. UNICEF is committed to mobilising resources to support this acceleration strategy by the MOE.
For more information, please contact the UNICEF Communications Section, telephone:
251-1-515155 or 444400; fax: 517111; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org