Primary school enrolment in Ethiopia has increased greatly over the last 15 years, yet more than two million children remain out of school. An important reason are the limited opportunities for young children to participate in quality early childhood education programmes.

Re&Act is working with UNICEF to improve access to early childhood education programmes in four regions of Ethiopia: Tigray, Somali, Oromia and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples. 


Roche employees playing with students at Merquet primary school
A primary student writes on the blackboard in English
Students learning through play

The project started in 2017 and will run until 2021 with an overall goal of providing more than 98,000 children aged 5-7 access to one of the early childhood education programmes. The supported programmes, which are all recognised by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, are the following:

  • Parental education and involvement is a strong component across all interventions and will result in increased knowledge of parents on successful ways in which they can support their children’s early stimulation and development. As of 2020, 4,387 Integrated Functional Adult Education facilitators, school directors, supervisors, and non-formal education experts were trained on parental education, community engagement, and resource mobilization for Early Childhood Education.
  • Child-to-Child is a non-formal community-based programme designed by UNICEF providing a low-cost alternative for supporting young children in communities where formal pre-primary education is either nonexistent or unavailable to most families. 8,482 new children participated in non-formal pre-primary education and learned from trained young facilitators in 2020. Since the beginning of the programme, 45,040 children have benefitted from the initiative, surpassing the 2021 target of 24,000 beneficiaries.
  • Accelerated School Readiness is a non-formal community-based programme designed by UNICEF to support young children to prepare for primary school in the summer months. 12,491 new children participated from three regions in 2020, bringing the total to 40,930 beneficiary children from all four regions since the beginning of the programme.
  • “O”-class is a one year pre-primary class attached to formal primary schools. 14,000 new children participated in improved “O”-classes in 2020, bringing the total beneficiaries to 104,367 children, surpassing the 2021 target of 37,300 beneficiaries.

UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education in preparing the development of a new early childhood education strategy. The programme model implemented in these four regions has been emulated in further regions and is bringing advanced curriculum development across Ethiopia. Since programme inception a total of 190,337 children have benefitted from the early childhood education programmes. The support from the Ethiopian government is ensuring the sustainability of this programme and the continued development of childhood education in the country.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 and war-related violence in Ethiopia, this project's funds have been reallocated to provide emergency support in the Tigray region. The support seeks to ensure continuity and sustainability in early Childhood Development and Accelerated School Readiness after the conflict erupted in November 2020. In addition, to offer crisis affected children psycho-social support and protection. through a crisis tested approach.

UNICEF is a non-governmental organisation that advocates for the protection of children's rights, helps children across the world meet basic needs and expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. Re&Act and UNICEF have partnered to support innovative and sustainable projects for children since 2006. 

For more information on UNICEF, click here.


  • A Child to Child learning session
    A Child to Child learning session
  • A Child to Child learning session
    A Child to Child learning session
  • A primary school class
    A primary school class
  • O class session
    O class session
  • A child to child teaching class
  • Children learn by playing at Merquet primary school
  • A Child to child teaching class