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News: Drought, conflict lead to high school dropout rates in Amhara region

Over 1,688 students, who were enrolled in previous years in the drought-stricken Sehala district of the Amhara region, have dropped out due to the ongoing drought (Photo: Wagihimra Communication/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – Education officials in the drought-stricken Sehala district of the Amhara region have reported a significant decrease in student attendance at the start of the new school year. A staggering number of 1,688 students previously enrolled in the district have been forced to drop out as a result of the persistent drought.

This distressing statistic adds to the already overwhelming figure of over three million elementary and secondary students in the region who were unable to register for the current academic season. This unfortunate situation primarily stems from the ongoing conflict between the federal government and the non-state militia, Fano.

Sehala district is located in the Wagihimra zone of the Amhara region, where there has been little rainfall for several months, depleting water resources and impacting crop and livestock production. According to Negusu Asefa, the head of the district education office, the district had expected approximately 15,000 students from grades 1 to 12 to enroll in its 24 primary and secondary schools. However, after registrations closed, only 10,558 students were signed up, indicating that over 4,400 eligible students did not register.

Ngusu identified the drought, which caused families to migrate with their livestock, and a severe lack of educational materials as the primary factors contributing to the high dropout rate. With the water shortage worsening, many parents have withdrawn their children from school to assist in animal herding and find work to support their families. This mass migration has disrupted the education of thousands of students, and local schools are struggling to operate and retain students in the harsh conditions, according to Negusu.

For instance, at Mesha Primary School, while 1,241 students are officially enrolled, the principal, Amanuel Bere, reported that 154 students have already quit attending classes as their families migrate for work. Students themselves have expressed concerns and uncertainties about their education prospects without additional aid and support. Across the district, 12 out of the 24 schools are facing significant challenges in providing proper teaching and learning due to the impact of the drought.

The district education office is urgently appealing to governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide assistance by supplying educational materials and offering support programs for displaced students and families.

Previously, Addis Standard reported that at least 18 deaths related to hunger were registered in Sehala and Janamora districts of the Waghimra zone. Both districts are affected by the devastating drought in the region. The majority of the deceased are vulnerable groups, including women, children, and the elderly. Officials warn that the death toll could rise even higher without urgent assistance.

These reports further highlight the crippling impact of the drought, as minimal rainfall over the past months has depleted resources. Officials estimate that over 46,000 of Sehala’s 52,000 residents have been severely affected. Livestock and crops are perishing due to the lack of rain, putting the entire population at risk without immediate aid. AS

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