IIEP supports the development of Ethiopia’s fifth Education Sector Development Plan

28 January 2015

IIEP’s cooperation with Ethiopia continues in 2015 with the development of the country’s fifth Education Sector Development Plan, with funding from the UNESCO Cap EFA programme.

Ethiopia has a solid experience in educational planning, having prepared five-year education sector development plans (ESDPs) for nearly two decades now. The Government has ensured that educational planning is well coordinated with a national development plan (the national Growth and Transformation Strategy), with an overall objective of becoming a middle-income country by 2025.

IIEP has cooperated with Ethiopia for many years to support its development of capacities in educational planning. In 2009 and 2010, the Institute organized two intensive regional distance education courses on the methods of education sector planning, in which Ethiopia was an enthusiastic participant. Most importantly, IIEP provided backstopping to the elaboration of the country’s fourth education sector plan in 2009/10. Indeed, the Institute took the preparation of ESDP IV as an opportunity to offer a series of training workshops for officials at both the national and regional levels. The latter proved particularly important since, as Ethiopia is a federal state, the regions are responsible for general (primary and secondary) education in the country.

IIEP is working once again with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Education (MoE), along with the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa, to support the development of the new education sector plan, ESDP V, using funding from the UNESCO Cap EFA programme.

A collaborative project has been developed through which IIEP, together with UNESCO Addis, contributes to the elaboration of the new plan at four crucial stages:

  1. preparation of an education sector situation analysis;
  2. updating of an existing simulation model;
  3. identification of priorities, targets and associated sub-sector programmes;
  4. and preparation of the costing and M&E framework, and drafting of the final plan document.


To implement the work collaboratively, the Ethiopian MoE has developed an innovative and participative working structure. Technical task forces were set up at each level of education: general education, TVET, and higher education. The working structure also associates representatives from the regional education bureaus, regional TVET offices, and the 34 higher education institutions; and consultations with this broader group of direct stakeholders are organized at each crucial moment of the plan preparation process.  

The education system in Ethiopia has made tremendous strides over the past ten years. According to UNESCO statistics, the gross enrolment ratio at primary level has progressed steadily from 55% in 2000, to 81% in 2005, and 102% in 2010, attaining a high of 130% in 2012 (according to national statistics). An innovative TVET strategy is also being implementation, aiming at a major expansion and restructuring of the TVET sector. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education has been taking the development of higher education opportunities very seriously, and there is now a network of 34 universities across the country’s territory.

Serious challenges remain nonetheless, such as 3 million out-of-school children at the primary level in 2012, according to UNICEF. Dropouts are also an important issue, touching 25% of Grade 1 children (2012/13). There are also significant problems associated with quality, measured through learning outcomes. The average score by subject in five main areas (including Reading, English and Mathematics) has decreased (e.g. in Reading from 65% in 2004 to 43% in 2012).

A first workshop was organized in September 2014 to support the development of the situation analysis, and a second in December 2014 on the elaboration of the sub-sector programmes. It is currently intended to finalize the preparation of ESDP V in mid-2015, so that the plan will be ready to inform budgetary decisions as of 2016.