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Ethiopia: Only 3% of High School Students Pass University Entrance Exams

Barely 3% of Ethiopian high school students have passed the university entrance exam, the education minister has announced, a score similar to that of last year.

“Of the 845,188 students who took part in the entrance exam, only 27,000 obtained the average required to be admitted to university”, explained Berhanu Nega, quoted by the national news agency ENA.

“This means that only 3.2% passed the exam, a drop of 0.01 percentage points compared to the previous school year”, he continued, adding that in almost half of the schools that presented candidates, not a single student passed the exam.

According to Dr Meseret Assefa, a lecturer at the Faculty of Educational and Behavioural Sciences at Addis Ababa University, this low score was due in particular to “a lack of teaching tools and poor learning and teaching methods”.

He welcomed “recent efforts to reduce cheating in examinations”. “But there is a lack of interest in tackling the real teaching and learning problems that affect student performance”, he added.

According to UNICEF, Ethiopia has made “enormous progress towards universal primary education” in recent years, with 88.7% of the country’s children enrolled in primary school by 2021-2022. 

However, only 33.1% of the age group is enrolled in secondary education, according to the UN Children’s Agency.

In Ethiopia, “the quality of learning is a major challenge, with 90% of 10-year-olds unable to read or understand a sentence from a simple text”, it explains.

Only 10% of the age group was in higher education in Ethiopia in 2018, according to the World Bank.