Narrowing Gaps by Promoting Rural Development

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Eritrea: Editorial SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2021 Minister of Information

Narrowing Gaps by Promoting Rural Development

By Simon Woldemichael

Nov 10, 2021

Promoting Rural Development: With the coming of independence in 1991, the government faced a big challenge of addressing the acute imbalance in social and infrastructure development between rural and urban areas. The government has carried out investments in rural infrastructure that has impacted the living conditions of the people.

Rural and human resource developments appear to be strong in reducing poverty by making education and healthcare accessible. The social and economic development of nations is often affected by the education process in which people learn to create new ways of doing things.

In the past, the majority of children in rural areas were not able to attend school as they were expected to support their families by helping work the land or look after animals or because there were no schools to go to. The government has been making efforts to make education accessible in rural areas.

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To make the principle of Education for All (EFA) a reality, in the last decade access to primary education has increased significantly. Similarly, the number of early childhood learning centers has increased from 90 in the year 2000 to 506 in 2015/2016. Out of the total pre-primary schools, 217 are Rural Child Care Community Centers (RCCCs), which are providing early learning opportunities to rural and disadvantaged children.

Education is a very important means of social mobility for individuals and the driving force behind economic, social, and cultural development at the national level. Governments in developing countries put a lot of emphasis on education in order to accelerate the development process. In the same vein, it has come to be a sine qua non for national development in Eritrea.

Eritrea has made remarkable progress in education particularly because it has been able to build schools throughout the country. As data from UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics for 2018 show about 76.6 percent of adults in Eritrea are literate, with youth (15 – 24 years) literacy standing at about 93.3 percent.

The government views access to education as a prerequisite for sustainable rural development. It is committed to the globally agreed targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), which is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” In Eritrea, education is the responsibility of the government, which has constructed primary, middle and secondary schools, special schools, and boarding schools in remote rural areas. Young students who live in rural areas are now able to finish high school and go to college along with urban peers.

Eritrea has made major strides over the years to improve the quality of life of its citizens. The incidence of poverty has decreased, death rates have fallen, infant and maternal mortality dwindled and life expectancy raised.

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Safe water and sanitation are essential for the protection of community health by limiting the transmission of infectious diseases. Through the construction of dams and by drilling for underground water, rural communities throughout the country now have access to drinkable water. And in an effort to improve sanitation and the living conditions of rural communities, households in villages are now required to build toilets and put an end to the practice of open defecation. Hundreds of villages have already declared they are free from open defecation while other villages are in the process of building toilets.

Healthcare service is considered a fundamental right of every citizen, and every Eritrean is entitled to basic healthcare services. The government has built facilities throughout the country to make healthcare accessible for all, including people who live in remote areas. Eritrea is one of the few countries that have achieved the Millennium Development Goals and is expected to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the health sector, in general, and in child health, in particular.

National development entails the ability of a country to achieve overall socio-economic and political progress such that the lives of the citizens are positively impacted. It directly and positively changes the quality of life of the people. In short, a meaningful national development has to be people-centered.

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