The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 679–694 | Cite as

‘From School to Adulthood’? Young People's Pathways Through Schooling in Urban Ethiopia

  • Laura Camfield
Original Article


This article presents a case study of a rapidly evolving urban community in Southern Ethiopia drawing on survey and qualitative data from Young Lives, a long-term international study of two cohorts of children growing up in poverty (born 1994–1995 and 2000–2001). It uses this to set visible changes in aspirations and experiences of schooling over time in their political and economic context. The article illustrates the value of mixed-methods approaches within international development research by juxtaposing individual and household level data, both survey and qualitative, with data collected through school- and community-based research. This enables analysis of processes of power and social change taking place in contemporary Ethiopia and reflected in changing attitudes towards education and employment. Finally, the chapter highlights the challenges for the Ethiopian education system in meeting children's aspirations, in the context of rapidly declining economic opportunities after leaving school.

Cet article présente une étude de cas d’une communauté urbaine en Éthiopie du sud caractérisée par un changement rapide et constant. Cette étude s’appuie sur des données qualitatives et d’enquête tirées de ‘Young Lives’, une étude internationale de long terme menées auprès de deux cohortes d’enfants grandissant dans des conditions de pauvreté (et nés en 1994–95 et en 2000–01). Sur la base de ces données, ce travail situe dans leur contexte économique et politique l’évolution des aspirations et des vécus scolaires des enquêtés. L’article illustre ainsi la valeur des méthodes mixtes pour la recherche sur le développement, juxtaposant des données de ménages et d’individus à la fois qualitatives et d’enquête avec des données tirées de recherches sur les communautés et le systéme scolaire. Ceci permet une analyse des processus de changements sociaux et de pouvoir se produisant dans l’Éthiopie contemporaine, et qui se reflètent en particulier dans l’évolution de comportements vis-à-vis de l'éducation et de l’emploi. Enfin, ce travail met en évidence les défis auxquels le système éducatif éthiopien est confronté pour satisfaire aux aspirations des enfants, et ceci dans un contexte plus large d’une diminution rapide des opportunités économiques pour les jeunes quittant l’école.


education employment children and young people Ethiopia aspirations mixed methods 



The author would like to thank Yisak Tafere, Workneh Abebe, Young Lives participants and other respondents. Young Lives is core-funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Sub-studies are funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank (in Peru), the International Development Research Centre (in Ethiopia) and the Oak Foundation. The views expressed are those of the author. They are not necessarily those of, or endorsed by, Young Lives, the University of Oxford, DFID or other funders.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Camfield
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaNorwichUK

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