At the time of the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) in 1994, the education system was not only quantitatively small but was also characterised by striking regional and structural imbalances. Only 23.4% of the population aged 10 years and above was literate and only one out of four primary school-age children had been enrolled in primary school. The Gross Enrolment Ratio in 1994/95 was 24.1% for grades one to eight of the primary school.
The shift to a federal administrative structure has resulted in a devolution of authority to the regional states in the education sector. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has retained responsibilities for tertiary level institutions and the formulation of policies and the development of procedures, monitoring their implementations and setting national education standards.
In the last 15 years, the Ethiopian Government has shown a strong commitment to the education sector development and in particular to the primary education. In order to improve the critical situation, the Government formulated an Education and Training Policy and Strategy in 1994 on the basis of which, the Education Sector Development Program (ESDP) was designed to achieve universal primary education by the year 2015 and to undertake a coherent and balanced development of the education sector. Raising the school enrolment ratio is one of the major goals of the Ethiopian Government by reducing gender disparity in access to school.
While adult literacy rate stands still at only 29.8 % (UNDP, Human Development Report 2011), in 2010/11 gross enrolment ratio is 96.4% at primary school while secondary school gross enrolment ratio is 38.4% at the first cycle and only 8.1% at the second cycle. In the same year, the completion rate is 49.4% as regards primary education, 52.5% of boys and 46.2% of girls. The percentage of girls is 47.5% out of the total number of students enrolled in primary schools while the average is 44.8% in secondary education. [Source: Ethiopian Ministry of Education - Education Statistics Annual Abstract 2010/2011]