Period: 20 July - 20 November 2003. Country: Eritrea
(1) The Impact of Formal and Basic Education on Rural Livelihood in a Settler Village in Eritrea, Case Study of Gadien
BAHETA, Daniel  (Division of African Area Studies)
Key Words: Education, Development, Social Change, Perception, Impact of Education


Map of Eritrea : Research site is a village called Gadien.
Grade Three Students in Classroom
(2) This research has three main objectives. First, the researcher would like to identify the impact of the introduction of formal education on the current livelihood of rural people in Eritrea in a place called Gadien. This study intends to examine the consequences that arise when education is brought to agrarian and rural societies without clearly identifying their needs. Second, this study will serve as a starting point for those who would like to do further study on the impact of education in Eritrea. Finally, this paper can also help to prompt policy makers in Eritrea to recognize the disparity between the perception of education on the part of key stakeholders and the reality of what is happening in rural parts of Eritrea today. Here, we must clearly understand that the importance of formal and basic education is not being criticized or undermined by this study. Rather, the current education policy and its effect on the current socio-economic condition and rural livelihood of Eritrea will be critically discussed. The impact of war must be considered.

(3) Gadien is located in the barren mountainous terrain of Eritrea at an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level. The capital city Asmara lies 62 kilometers to the Southwest and the port town of Massawa is 125 kilometers to the Southeast. It is said that the second road built to connect the port town of Massawa to Asmara in the early 1900s was one of the causes for the emergence of Gadien as a settled area. However, the main reason for Gadien’s existence is the development of water pumps for use in farm irrigation. Almost ninety percent of the people in Gadien are farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihood. However, the overwhelming majority does not own land but work as laborers in the fruit crop farms. The bulk of the farmers depend on two important assets for production: oxen and people. Young children aged eight to sixteen are considered to be a form of wealth, since they are essential for contributing not only to the labor force in the farm, but to the daily livelihood. As a result, the introduction of the Gadien elementary school in 1993 has interrupted patterns of daily activity and the roles played by all members of the family. The scope of this study will be to analyze data collected in this area and provide information about the relationship between education and the society.
          War has been a part of Gadien’s history and continues to affect peoples’ lives. The last three years have been particularly hard on the household activities in Gadien. However, education offers hope to all the stakeholders, despite identified short-term negative effects which are: lack of labor; reduced productivity; high cost of education and the loss of local knowledge.
          In my early findings I have concluded that, all the four main stakeholders in the village of Gadien have different perceptions about the benefits of education. The expected outcome of education on the part of female and male students also differs somewhat; however, both sexes feel that education will provide them with a ticket to escape rural livelihood. The parents on the other hand, are investing in education in order to secure a better future both for their children and themselves. They strongly disapprove of girls’ education. Meanwhile, the teachers see themselves as missionaries and expect the benefit of education to help the students as well as the wider community to live a better life. Finally, the government policy makers continue to encourage rural communities to participate in the process of nation building through formal education.
          War, in conjunction with formal education, has contributed to the reduction of agriculture and food productivity in Gadien. All the households have been affected by the amount of time students spend on education in place of time on the farm or performing household activities.

 
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