Through the Department of Technical and Vocational Education, the Ministry of Education runs technical and vocational programs, adult literacy programs, continuing basic education classes, and adult skills development programs.Technical and vocational education is offered at basic, intermediate, and advanced levels. Seven basic level training centers provide employment skills courses, four to nine months in length, for elementary completers. The centers graduated 296 students (78 female) in 1999 and 157 students (0 female) in 2000. At the intermediate level, three technical institutes (Asmara, Wina, and Mai Habar) provide training programs, lasting two to three years, for middle-school completers. Total enrollment of the three schools was 908 (15 percent female) in 2000. At the advanced level for secondary graduates, two schools are available: the Asmara Business and Commerce Training School, providing courses in accounting, banking and finance, secretarial science, and management; and the nongovernmental Pavoni Technical Institute, which offers machine shop training. Enrollment in the Business School was 190 (30.5 percent female) in 2000; Pavoni had 67 students, including 5 women.
A school of fine arts and a school of music were pioneered by the EPLF during the independence war. The arts school trains secondary school completers in sculpture, painting, and printmaking. In 2000, the school had 29 beginning (8 female) and 39 intermediate (12 female) students. The Asmara Music School offers one to two years of theoretical and practical training to those who complete grade eight. In 2000, the school had 22 male and 34 female students.
In 2000, a literacy program was operating in 796 centers, serving more than 49,000 adults, 94 percent of them women. Four-fifths of these adults were new students in the first year of the three-year program; the border war with Ethiopia had reduced the number of continuing students. The literacy program was conducted, and primers printed, in seven languages.
Evening classes in basic education are conducted at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels, with 4,872 adults (3,461 female) attending in 2000, the majority at the secondary level. Since independence, many adult skills development programs were begun in cooperation with NGOs, but the Ministry of Education has largely taken over responsibility for the programs. From 1993 to 1997, some 6,000 to 7,000 adults were trained in building trades, metal fabrication, agricultural technology, secretarial skills, and other job skills.
Various professional training programs are run by other ministries, most importantly the Ministry of Health (nurses, pharmacists, village health workers, and technicians), and the Ministry of Agriculture (farmers and its own staff of technicians). The Institute of Management Studies has been established to upgrade the skills of existing civil servants. Quasi-governmental organizations such as the National Union of Eritrean Woman and the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students offer a variety of vocational and some academic courses across the nation. The National Union of Eritrean Women has been especially active in mounting women's literacy projects in small towns and rural villages.
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