Building momentum for Life Skills education in Ethiopia

Ensuring that young people have access to comprehensive information on health, personal well-being, and life skills is central to supporting their decision-making as they move into adulthood. Learn how Development Expertise Center (DEC) supported the movement towards improved Life Skills education in the Ethiopian school system.

In September 2022, the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia announced that the new ‘Education, Health and Wellbeing’ (EHW) curriculum was to be implemented nationwide from first to eighth grade, effective from 19th September 2022. The curriculum was developed by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and civil society organisations. The new health curriculum is part of Ethiopia’s broader education reform agenda, which aims to improve the quality of education to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices throughout their lives in a rapidly changing world. The EHW curriculum includes both academic and life skills education, with an emphasis on age-appropriate information, including topics like communication and self-awareness to help them make informed decisions about their health and relationships.

A female nurse is sitting behind a desk in a white coat. There are posters and documents stuck to the wall behind her. She is facing two young women whose backs are to the camera. The two women are looking at a diagram of different contraception options.

Since 2010, Development Expertise Center (DEC) has been working to empower young people to improve their own sexual and reproductive health and rights. DEC, an Addis Ababa-based civil society organisation and AmplifyChange Network grantee partner, played an important role in ensuring that conversations about Life Skills were included within the final EHW curriculum.

With their AmplifyChange Network grant funding, DEC provided life skills education in school environments and used the results and impact of their education sessions as evidence for their advocacy work. This included working with government officials to ensure that contextualized, age- and culturally appropriate sexual and reproductive health (SRH) topics, such as contraception and HIV prevention, were included within the new EHW curriculum. Additionally, DEC trained government departments on SRH education to allow them to fully understand the positive benefits of age-appropriate and context-specific Life Skills education on adolescents within their country. One of their key approaches to advocating at government level was sharing success stories and tangible research about the impact of Life Skills education. Through sharing these stories and outcomes in different forums, the positive changes of young people who had attended life skills sessions were heard and seen at decision-making level.

A boy wearing a white shirt and plaid waistcoat is standing in the aisle of a school library. He is standing in front of a shelf of books. He is reading a book and wearing a blue medical mask on his face.

Additionally, as part of their AmplifyChange project, DEC formed the Able Generation for Empowerment (AGE) coalition. AGE campaigned for inclusion of SRH education in the Ethiopian school curriculum at all levels through evidence-based advocacy and lobbying of the Ethiopian Federal government through the Ministry of Education. The coalition enhanced collaboration and coordination of the broader SRHR movement and representatives of the coalition ran trainings for government officials, providing technical advice on curriculum development.

The coalition also engaged large volumes of parents and caregivers, buidling not only awareness but understanding and consensus on the importance of the provision of life skills education for their young people. The AGE coalition meaningfully contributed to the development of the lobbying and advocacy communication strategy and organised national level advocacy forums to include aspects of Life Skills education within the curriculum.

The implementation of the new EHW curriculum is still ongoing, and it will take time to see the full impact of these changes. However, this curriculum is an important step towards providing a more comprehensive and holistic education for Ethiopian students. It is expected to contribute to improved health and wellbeing outcomes for young people across the country. Having already contributed to such positive educational policy changes, DEC hope to see their impact sustained, as more students will now have access to Life Skills education as a result of the rollout of a national curriculum change.

Learn more about AmplifyChange’s Life Skills and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) portfolio by reading our Impact analysis of our funding here.

Check out the Summary Report from the 2021 ‘Talking About Life Skills, More Comprehensively’ virtual dialogue here