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News Analysis: Education resumes in Tigray with “poor condition of school facilities”, nearly 400 schools remain inaccessible

By Molla Mitiku @MollaAyenew

Addis Abeba – The Educational Bureau of Tigray has announced that students have started getting back to schools since 01 May 2023 in different parts of the region. Authorities had earlier scheduled classes to start around mid-April but due to complex and multilayered problems that occurred as a consequence of the devastating war, the plan didn’t dome to an effect.

Kiros Gu’ush (PhD), interim head of the bureau, told Addis Standard that in the capital Mekelle, all private schools have already started teaching learning activities; whereas, only 58 public schools have begun teaching as the remaining 21 schools are still hosting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

According to the bureau head, nearly 400 schools in Western, Southern and North Eastern parts of the region have once again remained closed as the areas are still under the occupation of Eritrean and Amhara forces.

In Southern Tigray, of the total 368 schools, classes have resumed in 174 schools whereas the rest 182 schools located in areas like Alamata, Korem and the environs which have been occupied by the Amhara forces remain closed, Kiros said.

He added that all 199 schools which are found in Western Tigray and some schools in Irob district which shares a border with Eritrea and still remain under the occupation of Eritrean forces have not started teaching at the moment.

The delay in returning the IDPs who are still sheltered in schools and lack of total withdrawal of Eritrean and the non-ENDF forces from the region according to the Pretoria peace agreement remained an obstacle to the resumption of education as planned, the bureau head noted.

He said in addition to the 21 schools in Mekelle, 2 schools in Michew and 1 school in Mehoni are currently harboring IDPs.  There are other schools in Tembien, Shire, Adigrat, Irob and other parts of Tigray which are serving as shelters for people displaced mainly from Southern and Western Tigray during the war, he added.

In other parts of the region under the control of the interim administration however, despite “poor condition of school facilities due to the partial and complete destruction of schools during the war”, students are progressively returning to schools, Kiros said.

The Bureau head disclosed that “rising special needs students and teachers, reduction of number of parents who could feed their children, the partial or complete destruction of schools and the entire collapse of the regional economy due to the devastating war” have become impediments to return students who account for nearly 30% of the total population in the region to schools.

Kiros said efforts are underway to put in place some arrangements for students who used to go to schools that were totally damaged during the war, and to move the IDPs currently sheltered in schools to other places. 

He added that “the bureau has planned to apply an accelerated teaching method in order to compensate for the elapsed time, dividing one year into four periods, and teach two years of education in one year”.

He admitted that the regional interim administration alone cannot resolve the issues, and urged both the federal government and the international community to support the region in making its education system functional.

Education has been halted in the Tigray region for the past three consecutive years due to COVID-19 and later the two years war between the federal government and the Tigrayan forces.

On 13 April, Save the Children said about 2.3 million children remain out of school in northern Ethiopia despite last November’s peace agreement ending two years of conflict with reconstruction of damaged buildings yet to commence.

In an analysis published on April 10 Addis Standard highlighted outstanding issues halting the resumption of schools in Tigray region among which the issue of about 55,000 teachers whose whereabouts and current status were unknown because of the war was one. AS

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