USAID READ II Education Recovery Activity
Conflict, drought and the pandemic have taken their toll on Ethiopia’s school-aged children. The USAID-supported READ II has pivoted multiple times to support quality education efforts in key parts of the country.
Originally designed as an early grade reading program, READ II sought to improve the reading proficiency of 15 million children in seven regions of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Sidama, SNNP and Tigray) in English and seven mother-tongue languages. During its first three years, READ II supported 3,000 schools in more than 70 woredas. Through a variety of proven techniques – including training teachers, school administrators, volunteer community literacy leaders, gender club coordinators and establishing reading camps – the program benefited 3,077,232 primary school students.
Then the pandemic struck, which pushed the out-of-school population from 13 percent in 2020 to 22 percent in 2021, according to the World Bank. READ II pivoted to address the crisis by developing in-person interventions and virtual technology responses – from distance learning through radio and TV and virtual training for teachers to establishing an IVR hotline to engage teachers, parents and school directors. Despite tremendous efforts by educators, the pandemic created a learning crisis that severely affected Ethiopia’s two decades of significant strides to improve access to school and learning.
RESPONDING TO THE NORTHERN CONFLICT
The outbreak of the Northern Ethiopia Conflict in November 2020 further exacerbated the learning crisis. More than 3.4 million students (1.7 million girls) are out of school in northern Ethiopia, the United Nations reported in February 2023, of which Tigray accounts for 2.3 million (1.8 million girls). More than 9,380 schools were damaged or destroyed.
While navigating the challenges brought on by COVID-19, READ II pivoted to an education in crisis and conflict program. Along with its partner World Vision International, the Creative-implemented READ II program shifted its focus from seven target regions to interventions in the conflict-affected areas of Amhara, Afar and Tigray.
Renamed as the READ II Education Recovery Activity, it supports more than half a million children in 1,156 conflict-affected primary schools in 90 districts. The activity provides teaching, learning and recreational materials to students, as well as basic school supplies, furniture and tents for schools and temporary learning centers to resume teaching and learning. READ II also supports regional and local back-to-learning campaigns through targeted campaigns, posters, radio public service announcements and mobile hotline push messages.
The activity provides training and ongoing support to teachers and community leaders on psychological first aid, psychological support and social-emotional learning to support classroom and school-level recovery and learning. School leadership receive support in creating safe and protective learning environments to lead their schools and temporary learning centers to better recover from conflict shocks. Teaching and learning can recommence, along with the development of school-level psychosocial support mechanisms.
READ II systematically integrates child protection through concerted screening, in-school psychological support services and referral systems. The USAID-supported program works with schools to strengthen gender clubs and institutionalize mechanisms for protection and response to school-related gender-based violence.
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Q&A With Mastewal Worku, USAID READ II in Ethiopia
The READ II project in Ethiopia seeks to boost the quality of literacy instruction and student support for 15 million children, including those at risk of failure and dropout caused by the cognitive, emotional and physical effects of hunger, violence and displacement. Learn More...