Grade Placements in Classrooms in Ethiopia — How does it work?

Roots Ethiopia has been asked to discuss how students are placed in proper grades in Ethiopia,  particularly in the Kembata Tembaro and surrounding region. Placement extends well beyond peer placement because of extensive delay and dropout rates.

We have asked one of our local Ethiopian advisers to comment on his understanding and experience of classrooms and student placements in Kembata Tembaro and the surrounding areas. (Note:  Some of the context of this question was set by Roots Ethiopia class rosters, in which, for example,  a 16-year-old girl is in 6th grade, and a 16-year-old girl is in 3rd grade).

Report on Classrooms, Ages, and Placement

Age is not a consideration when placing children in a classroom, that is the case in all parts of the country of Ethiopia. The government encourages families to send their children to school at an early age (normally 6 years old to begin first grade — see our white paper on education to read more about schooling).  However, it is always up to the family to decide when to send their children to school.  Families in Kembata Tembaro and the surrounding area greatly value education, and families make every effort to make school a priority. But there are many factors that influence school starts, delays, and dropouts.  Ultimately, the decisions are influenced by the family’s social, economic, health, and other factors affecting their lives at the time children are ready for school.

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(Redeit age 9, grade 2 – Roots Ethiopia sponsored student)

When a child (of any age) joins the school, the school has the duty to place him/her in the appropriate skill level, but not age level. Schools do not have the necessary mechanisms in place to provide any alternative or special education needs.

For instance, in the case of Roots Ethiopia, a 16-year-old girl in 3rd grade tells me about her strong ambition and determination to pursue school in the face of adversity.  Whether she manages to get to 10th grade depends on her classroom achievements. But, I am sure her age has little impact on that. For example, when I was a grade 10 student in Hossana high school (this was some time ago, mind you) there were 2 female students in my year: a mother and a daughter. They both completed high school, and have been working as nurses. I remember some students were older than our teachers. My aunt was my classmate as she had to drop school because of family-related difficulties. A significant age gap among classmates is commonplace, especially in the rural areas.

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(Sisay, 15 years old, 6th grade – Roots Ethiopia sponsored student)

It is difficult to assume at what age children may drop out of school. Theoretically, students may terminate classes at any stage if they face one of the problems mentioned in Part 1 of this discussion. But the most critical points are grades 6 and 8 and 10. At these stages, students may have to change schools and seek a secondary school or a high school which is normally located in a distant town center. Families have to make a difficult decision whether to send their children to a remote town.

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(Doyogena High School Library, Kembata)

It was not too long ago, for instance,  that students from Mudula town used to travel to Hossana to attend high school. Now Mudula has its own high school, but that was not the case years ago. In addition to that, the grade 8 national exam determines students fate whether to proceed to secondary school. Grade 10 exams determine again, about progression to high school.

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(Photo Credit Lisa Woll: Primary School in Tembaro)

Programs like Roots Ethiopia help students enroll in school and stay in school. And, the most vulnerable students and families get the support necessary to continue school without interruption. It’s exciting to know that there are programs like Roots Ethiopia helping individual students accomplish their goals.

(This is PART 2 of a 2 PART discussion: Part 1 is on the topic of School Delay and Drop out and is the preceding blog entry)

You can act now, and donate to any of our initiatives. Your donations help us enroll students in school and keep them there. Roots Ethiopia assists with supplies, uniforms, nutritional, medical, and psychosocial support for families and students. Our number one goal is to get kids into school and help them progress without interruption. You can check out these links:

 Donation for school sponsorships

Or this one for the Amacho Wato Learning Resources Project  (COMPLETED — THIS LINK IS NOW CLOSED!)


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