By Alvin Ang,
Finn Church Aid (FCA) has entered into a 3 year agreement with the Eritrean National Commission for Higher Education to form an educational partnership aimed at revitalizing the education system in Eritrea.
The agreement will run until December 2017. Members from the FCA will collaborate with Eritrean teachers to develop a comprehensive education program that will cover all schools in the country.
Eritrea currently lacks a number of trained educators and schools.
Based on a country profile by the Library of Congress, only 65-70% of children go to primary school. Estimates also peg that there is an average of 63 students in one classroom, school hours are around 6 hours per day, and illiteracy rates range from 40-70 percent.
In addition, there is a shortage of funds invested into the educational system.
Finland’s education system is among the most developed in the world. According to an article by the Center on International Education Benchmarking, teaching is the “most respected” profession in Finland, with primary school teachers being the popular career choice.
Finland is known to have a very selective teacher preparation program, and successful applicants are very highly thought of in the community.
Antti Pentikäinen, an FCA Executive Director, termed the agreement as a great opportunity to address the current challenges faced by the educational system in Eritrea.
“The new agreement represents a welcome opportunity to renew partnership with Eritrea. Strengthening the teacher education is a great entry point to develop the education system as a whole,” he said, in an article by ACT Alliance.
In addition to the education reform, the FCA also plans to create an Innovation Center in Eritrea. The goal is to cultivate discussion and encourage solution-building towards creating more jobs, providing more educational opportunities for the marginalized, and improving energy provision.
Finn Church Aid’s Work Expands to Eritrea
By Finn Church Aid,
Finn Church Aid (FCA) will begin to work in the state of Eritrea. The main goal is to develop the education sector in the country.
In practice, FCA will support planning of vocational education, strengthening the teacher training and supporting youth entrepreneurship. The goal is to develop local solutions in cooperation with Eritreans, for example in renewable energy production and in improving the quality of education.
The cooperation plan is currently being designed with Eritrean education officials and FCA’s partners. Today FCA’s team of education specialists returned from Asmara. The team also visited schools, vocational training centers and higher education institutions in different locations across Eritrea, such as in Dek’emhare and Mai Nefhi.
“Special Envoy Pekka Haavisto and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland have done substantial groundwork on opening up dialogue with Eritrea. It is exceptional that Eritrea has asked for an organisation, Finn Church Aid, to enter the country. This opens up an opportunity to seek solutions for the challenges faced by the Eritrea”, Antti Pentikäinen, the Executive Director of Finn Church Aid, says.
“Our vision is that by developing the quality of education, we can have a far-reaching impact. Finnish expertise has a lot to offer for developing the education system.”
FCA will start implementing the projects in January 2015.
The budget for the projects is 1.5 million euros for the next three years. The work is being financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Estimates of the population in Eritrea vary between 3,6 million and 5,4 million.
“The lack of options that the Eritrean youth are facing has escalated the refugee situation. Access to quality education will create new opportunities for young people. Support in vocational and entrepreneurial skills can benefit in building brighter future for the country”, says FCA’s Education Specialist Laura Vanhanen.