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Educational Opportunity in Eritrea

Included amongst the fundamental human rights is that to education. The development of a robust educational infrastructure will be key to the development of any nation. Particularly in the developing world, where there is a significant demographic bias towards the youth, expenditures towards education will be high. As nearly every country has learned however, weathering the storm until the investment in the youth matures is the true test of a nations mettle.

population_distribution_eritrea_2000In Eritrea in particular we have a very broad population pyramid. Since independence significant gains have been made in increasing access to education throughout the country. In 1991 there were approximately 186,000 students in Eritrea while in 2006 it reached over 700,000 while over the same amount of time the number of schools ballooned from 293 to over 1,000. (( This commitment to education will undoubtedly yield fruit when these students enter the workforce.

In an increasingly globalized and professional world however, tertiary education has become a focal point. The United States has been the center of gravity for the great universities (although not necessarily academic discourse). In Eritrea too, from one University, the government has delivered on its goal to provide at minimum one college in each administrative zone.

Of course, in the United States, amongst the best Universities are the private colleges. Although not all are elite institutions they are critical to the development of a competent workforce without overburdening the State. Although Africa has in general shunned the development of private education, wary that it may engender class warfare, in Eritrea the National Board for Higher Education has not ruled it out. In fact, as its work progresses it has given tacit approval to the possibility, “The task of providing tertiary education … should not be left to the government alone. As long as we maintain and monitor the standard of education given in the private and public institution[s] of higher education, there can be no problem of opening private colleges in the country.” ((

Although unlikely that private Universities and colleges will sprout up over night in Eritrea it is encouraging to see a single problem being approached from many different angles.

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