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Improving Ethiopia Education System

Improving Ethiopia's Education System

As part of the international Research for Improving Systems of Education (RISE) programme, the REAL Centre is co-leading the RISE research in Ethiopia together with the Ethiopian Development Research Institute. The team is conducting a five-year research project in Ethiopia to examine whether and how a large package of national reforms works to improve learning equitably in one of the world’s poorest and most diverse countries.

Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project is an international partnership of researchers at universities and research centres worldwide. Together with the Policy Studies Institute and the REAL Centre, partner institutions include the Institute of Educational Research at Addis Ababa University, the Ethiopian Education Strategy Centre, the Centre for Education and International Development at University College London, Cornell University, and Stockholm University.

In recent years, Ethiopia has rapidly expanded primary school enrolment to achieve near-universal attendance. Yet, learning levels are poor and appear to have stalled in recent years. Despite national efforts to improve and to invest more in education, girls from poorer backgrounds and rural areas particularly continue to face problems in learning once in school, and in completing primary school. These issues present tremendous challenges for a nation in which more than 80 indigenous languages are spoken, and where many children live in remote areas and as pastoralists.

The Ethiopia RISE project is examining the government’s flagship education programme, the General Education Quality Improvement Package (GEQIP), a complex and evolving series of reforms intended to facilitate sustainable improvements in learning. The research team is seeking to understand the nature of the political levers brought about the policy change, the ingredients of sustainability, and, ultimately, the effectiveness of the reform package.

Research team

Principal Investigator and Research Team Lead:

Professor Tassew Woldehanna

International Research Team Lead :

Professor Pauline Rose

Research Management Lead:

Dr Ricardo Sabates


Dr Amare Asgedom

Dr Alebel Bayrau Weldesilassie

Dr Tessa Bold

Dr Belay Hagos Hailu

Dr Aklilu Hailemichael

Professor John Hoddinott

Dr Girma Lemma Fantaye

Professor Moses Oketch

Dr Alula Pankhurst

Dr Caine Rolleston

Dr Admasu Shibru

Professor Tirussew Teferra

Professor Darge Wole Meshesha

Dr Louise Yorke

Shelby Carvalho

Research Project Support:

Anita Menon-Harding

Country partners

  • Institute of Educational Research at Addis Ababa University
  • The Ethiopian Education Strategy Centre
  • University College London Institute of Education
  • Cornell University
  • Stockholm University


DFID via Oxford Policy Management


April 2017 - December 2022


Iyer, P., Rossiter, J. 2018. Coherent for Equitable Learning? Understanding the Ethiopian Education System


Yorke, L., Rose, P., Hagos Hailu, B. 2019. Listening to local voices to tackle Ethiopia's learning crisis.

Rose, P., Woldehanna, T. 2017. What will it take to raise learning outcomes for all children in Ethiopia? Translating commitment into action through evidence.

Woldehanna, T., Yorke, L. 2017. Launch Event highlights the need for alignment in Ethiopia's education system reform programme.