The ongoing Ethiopian war is depriving a generation of education and growth

“As the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region expands, an entire generation of children is facing a disruption to their education that will limit their economic opportunities and could fuel further conflict.”

Abiy Ahmed’s ongoing war on Tigray and Oromo is costing Ethiopian youth throughout Ethiopia a chance for a decent education and to escape poverty. The all out financial burdens of war have created massive inflation and diversion of funds away from education. Instead of going to school teenagers from Northern Ethiopia now just like their Eritrean neighbors to the north under Isaias Afwerki can only look forward to carrying a rifle instead of books.

The effect of war on children includes not only poor physical development from malnutrition but also psychosocial developmental aberration due to constant lack of security for families as noted in past reports to UNESCO.  For example the militarized country of Eritrea with a population of only 4 million or so frequently has more than 300,000 youth not being significantly educated. As a university educator for medical students, neuroscientists, and neurosurgeons in Tigray who was seeing Ethiopia hoping to emerge into a 21st century middle income country which can only be achieved by a strong education system this hope has all but faded.

Following the Derg war and Eritrean wars Ethiopia had gradually made progress in developing education. However, research on the effect of the Eritrean war showed that deprivation of education had severe long term effects on the Ethiopian economy. The percent of national budget had risen to over 4% of government spending under the previous government which was above average for an African country but still many of the poor especially rural women did not progress beyond elementary school.  Now that number has decreased drastically.

Every school in Tigray was destroyed by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces. Several million people including children are now displaced such that tens of thousands of schools are now dysfunctional in Tigray, Amhara, and the Afar regions. The Ethiopian government has shut down the primary and secondary education system supposedly to allow harvesting of crops but the reality is there is no available funding for education now and will not be until the war comes to end. 

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

One thought on “The ongoing Ethiopian war is depriving a generation of education and growth”

  1. I agree with the seriousness of the impacts of this war. It will further deepen the crisis of economic inequities. The longer the war drags on the deeper its grip on the ability of the Tigrayan and Ethiopian society to spring up for socio-economic progress. The war must stop!

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