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Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a large country located in the Horn of Africa, with a total geographic land area of 426,000 square miles. With 82.1 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the second most populous nation in Africa, and the 10th largest in terms of area. The country is bordered to the north by Eritrea, to the east by Somalia and Djibouti, to the west by Sudan and South Sudan and to the south by Kenya, making it the most populous completely landlocked nation in the world. The capital and largest city in Ethiopia is Addis Ababa.
By population, Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, swelling from 33.5 million in 1983 to over 82 million today. This population is highly diverse, consisting of over 80 distinct ethnic groups. Some of the most common of these are Oromo (34.5 percent of the population), Amhara (27%), Somali (6.2%), Tigray (6.1%), Sidama (4%), and Gurage and Welayta, both at around 2.5%. The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, but more commonly, Ethiopia is as linguistically diverse as it is ethnically. Most people in the country speak one of the Afro-Asiatic languages, particularly those of the Cushitic branch, a language spoken by the Oromo, Amhara, Tigray and Somali, who together account for over 75% of the population.
According to the last census, nearly 68 percent of the population is Christian, with over half of them adhering to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church doctrine. The remaining one-third of the country is Muslim.
Education in Ethiopia
For centuries, education in Ethiopia was dominated by the Orthodox Church, but since the 1900s the public system has been secular, although private and parochial schools still exist in the country. Prior to 1974, the country had an adult illiteracy rate of well over 90 percent, but since the Ethiopian Revolution in that same year, these rates have been gradually improving. This is mainly because the government of Ethiopia has strived to improve literacy by allocating more funds to schools and mandating that teaching literacy must remain a high national priority.
Education in Ethiopia is divided between three distinct levels: primary education, secondary education, and higher education. Schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14—grades one through eight—and it is these 8 years that make up a student’s primary education. As of the latest available statistics, there were nearly 17 million children enrolled in primary and secondary school (1-12), 75 percent of whom attended a state-run school. The curriculum in Ethiopian schools is very broad and includes courses in mathematics, language arts, science, history geography, music, art, foreign languages (secondary level only). At the secondary level, students can choose to take a purely academic program, or opt instead for vocational studies, or programs that help prepare students to enter the workforce upon graduation. Higher education is very limited in the country, consisting of just over a handful of universities, where students can earn undergraduate degrees in a small number of academic and agricultural fields.
Due to the many challenges facing the Ethiopian people, including disease and extreme poverty, the attendance rates and performance levels at both the primary and secondary school levels are very low compared to the world average.