Education: After the long war, Eritrea was in dire need of reconstruction and rehabilitation. Its human resources development was greatly hampered during the struggle and the quality of education had so deteriorated that there was a crisis in the system. However, after independence in 1991, education has been placed among the top priorities of the government.

The general objectives of education in Eritrea are the following: Producea population equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and culture to sustain a self-reliant and modern economy. Developself-consciousness and self-motivation in the population to equip them to fight poverty, disease and all the attendant causes of backwardness and ignorance. Makebasic education available to all.

Education policy and goals: The Education Ministry policy, which has been developed since 1991 and is an embodiment of the above principles, intends to achieve the following:

To promote equal opportunity in terms of access, equality, relevance and continuity of education for all school-aged children; Provideelementary education in respective mother-tongue languages; To provide middle and secondary level education in English; To encourage the provision of education by the private sector; To provide continuing education through formal and non- formal channels to achieve a more literate and skilled population; To steadily increase enrollment in secondary, technical and vocational schools in order to meet skilled manpower requirements, with emphasis on the imparting of multi-craft skills; and To make serious efforts in the sharing of the costs of education among the government, communities and parents.

Based on the above policies, the Ministry of Education has the following goals for the coming 15 years:

Raiseaccess for elementary-age children to 80% from the present 51%, Improvequality and efficiency at all levels, Supportpre-school initiatives, Increaseaccess, quality and efficiency of secondary and technical schools and vocational programs, Reduceilliteracy rate to 40% by the year 2003, (from the current 80%) Improvethe Ministry=92s capacity to analyze policy options, develop strategic plans and information systems and to upgrade sector management at all levels.

Achievements: During the past seven years there have been major achievements in the expansion and improvement of the provision of education. In the Elementary and Middle levels the enrollment ratio has shown an increase of 15% and 11%, respectively and in the secondary school level there has been a steady increase in enrollment. The number of teachers and number of schools by level has risen by 53% and 56% respectively.

Elementary School Level: Grades 1-5. Children enroll for elementary school after the age of 6 and enrollment is open to all. In the elementary level teaching takes place in the mother- tongue language. Teachers are certified for the elementary level if they are graduates of the (only) Teacher Training Institute or have an equivalent or higher qualification. In the 1998/99 school year, the enrollment ratio was 33.3% and the pupil/teacher ratio was 47. There are 602 elementary schools.

Middle School Level: Grades 6 and 7. This represents the second part of compulsory basic education. The medium of instruction is English. At the end of middle school, all students in the country are required to take the 7th Grade National Examination administered by the National Examination Center and students are then placed in the nearest secondary school. The enrollment in 1998/99 was 40.1% and there are 111 middle schools in the country.

Secondary School Level: Grades 8 =96 11. There are two types of secondary schools -Science and Commerce. At the conculions of high school, students take the Eritrean School Leaving Certificate Examination (ESLCE). This examination is given once a year in March. Teachers in the secondary level are qualified if they have a minimum of a BA or B.Sc. In 1998/99 the enrollment ratio was 11.4%. There are 36 secondary schools in Eritrea.

Secondary school students above the age of 18 must participate in the annual summer work programs. As part of this program students engage in various activities such as environmental conservation, road construction and maintenance, production and maintenance of school furniture, the laying power lines/telephone cables, hygiene and others. This program is aimed at developing a good work ethic and social habits, improving national awareness, fostering appreciation for diverse cultures, strengthening national unity through cooperation and building self-reliance.

Higher Education: In Eritrea there is only one university, the University of Asmara. This tertiary institution issues BA/Bs and LS degrees, but does not yet have graduate schools. Students must pass at least five components of the ESLCE. All high school graduates test in Math and English. The science students are also tested in: Biology, Physics, Chemistry and the commerce students are tested in: Economics, Bookkeeping, History and/or Geography. Students with score of 2.0 or above (on a scale of 4.00) are eligible for admission to the University of Asmara. The University has seven colleges which offer four to five year degree-granting programs. The colleges are: Arts & Social Sciences; Natural Science; Business and Economics; Agriculture; Health Science; Education and Engineering.

There is also a professional management institute associated with the University. The Institute of Management offers six month English and career development training in personnel and project management for mid-level government officials. This Institute is fully administered by the University of Asmara.

There are two other post-secondary educational institutions: The Pavoni Technical Institute (PTI) and the Asmara Commerce and Business Institute. PTI offers a three year- advanced diploma program in technology. The Asmara Commerce & Business Institute offers three-year programs in Accounting, Secretarial Science and Economics. Students with 1.6 =96 1.8 score in the ESLCE can apply for admission to these institutions. The Asmara Teachers' Institution, which trains elementary school teachers for a one year certificate, accepts students who score 1.2 =96 1.4 on the ESLCE.

The marking system at the University of Asmara and the other institutions is standardized as: 80+=3DA, 70-79 =3D B, 55 =96 69 =3D C, 45 =96 54 =3D D and 44 & below =3D F. The passing mark is considered to be a "C".

All students are required to complete one year of civil service at a variety of government institutions/Ministries/organizations upon the completion of their studies.

In Eritrea most schools are State owned and free-of-charge. There are a few private schools, but only at the elementary and middle level. The academic year starts in September and ends in June for all levels of instruction.

Prepared by:

Eden Zeratsion Academic/Cultural Assistant PAS American Embassy Asmara, Eritrea Phone: 291-1-120738 Fax: 291-1-120685 E-mail: