Rural Ethiopian children, and members of their households, often suffer from common and preventable but debilitating illnesses, such as malaria, parasite infection and worms. Enrolment rates in Ethiopia are high, but school attendance is patchy, children often drop out of school (although they sometimes return), and grade repetition is common. This paper argues that the two phenomena are related: serious illness of children or in children’s households is a major, under-analysed and avoidable barrier to children's schooling participation. This was demonstrated both in quantitative research, which analysed a 633- child longitudinal sample [from the Young Lives DFID project dataset] across 13 rural sites in Ethiopia, and qualitative research, a village case study, including interviews with 24 children and ten caregivers.
Quantitative data did not capture enough information to examine the effects of school responses to illness, although a recently collected round of data on schools will allow such analysis. The paper argues for further research into how schools can most effectively respond to illness. It also argues that local policy-makers and principals should urgently rethink how schools can be restructured to support children affected by illness.
Orkin, K. If God wills…next year I will send her back to school’: The Effects of Child and Parental Illness on School Participation in Rural Ethiopia. In: CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 60. (2011) 1-67. ISBN 0-901881-74-0