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Figures Underscore Sad Fact that Ethiopia’s Secondary Education Sector is in Crisis

In October 2023, Ethiopia’s minister of education, Berhanu Nega, disclosed several shocking figures on the outcomes of the 12th-grade national examination. Of the 3,106 schools that administered the 12th grade (secondary school leaving) examination for the 2022/23 academic year, 43% reported that none of their students had passed. And, for the second consecutive year, more than 96% of students who participated in the national school leaving examination scored less than the mark (an average of 50%) required to pass. This means that hundreds of thousands of students could not qualify for university education. Ethiopia, like other nations in the region and globally, has grappled with learning setbacks resulting from the COVID lockdowns. This, combined with ongoing internal conflict since 2020, likely contributed to the most recent national exam scores. However, the crisis has deep roots. Policy experts, researchers and longtime observers of the Ethiopian education system believe the shockingly poor exam results indicate underlying structural issues that extend far beyond the realm of individual student performance.