Challenges of Evening Educational Program for Working Children and Young People: Evidence From Hawassa City, Ethiopia

Challenges of Evening Educational Program for Working Children and Young People: Evidence From Hawassa City, Ethiopia

Akalewold Fedilu Mohammed, Degwale Gebeyehu Belay
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2019100104
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This article reports the findings from a study aimed at assessing the challenges of evening educational programs for working children and young people. A descriptive research design and mixed research approach were employed. The design helped to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena and to describe “what exists” with respect to conditions in a situation. A total of 367 students participated in the study. The findings of the study revealed that majority of the evening students are females. There are ongoing access issues for disadvantaged children and young people who cannot attend school on a regular basis, despite the provision of evening educational programs. Challenges include deficits in policy framework and the adopted curriculum, political drivers, teacher motivation, and facilities. Due to a lack of time, some courses are excluded from the evening programs. As a result, children and young people who are enrolled in this program achieve low academic performance as compared to the students in the regular program.
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Education is recognized as an essential foundation for culture, social and economic development. It can contribute to sustainable human development, peace and security, and the quality of life at individual, family, societal and global levels. The current government of Ethiopia, which came to power in 1991, adopted its Education and training policy in 1994. The government is currently revising the policy, named the Ethiopian Education Development Roadmap and there has been discussion between different concerned bodies since 2018, but the 1994 education policy is still in effect. The Ethiopian Education and Training Policy of 1994, states:

Education enables individuals and society to make all-rounded participation in the development process by acquiring knowledge, ability, skills and attitudes. This can be facilitated by expanding and nurturing all educational programs, including evening and continuing education. (Worku, 2014, p. 313)

Many countries in the world have come to recognize that illiteracy is both the cause and consequence of poverty (Fedilu, 2012). Hence, education is believed to be a potential instrument to end poverty. Consequently, there is a strong interest in educational expansion by more countries than ever before to achieve social, economic and political development. However, the question of equity has risen internationally and has become part of the development agenda across sectors (Vandemoortele, 2011). Global development goals and national strategies are still failing to address the poorest and the most marginalized groups in society despite economic growth and overall increases in access to services (United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2011; Vandemoortele, 2011).

The promise of education as a means of transformation to escape from poverty is at the heart of national and global policy commitments (Murray, 2014). Notwithstanding this, questions are raised in relation to the effort to achieve universal access to primary education, expansion, quality of schooling and persistent inequality nationally. One of the main criticisms at the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) framework was the inadequate attention paid by the government to the entrenched group-based inequalities that prevent certain sections of the society from accessing education opportunities (Lewin, 2007; Stewart, 2005; Tikly & Barrett, 2011). Even where governments were setting targets for marginalized communities in society, in their educational plan, they were not necessarily challenging educational inequalities (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2009; Pinnock, 2009).

The situation in Ethiopia, specifically in Hawassa, is not different from other similar countries. Educational policy and programs are very much focused on expansion rather than providing alternative free access to primary and secondary education to those who cannot be enrolled in regular program to pursue their education. This is particularly pertinent to those children and youth who are engaged in different subsistence work activities during the daytime for their livelihood. According to Lassibille and Tan (2005), 242,000 students attended evening classes in grades 1-12 in the year 2001-2002, across the nation. Children and young people, particularly from the poor families, are mostly engaged in different work activities either to support their family or themselves. Because these individuals have little or no education, their employment provides a low wage, and often equates to seasonal or temporary contract work (Alsulami, 2018; Connolly & Gottschalk, 2016; McKnight et al., 2016).

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