Student selection and retention at the University of Asmara, Eritrea

Tekie Asehun Leonida

Onderzoeksoutput: Thesis fully internal (DIV)

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Eritrea is a new and developing country in East Africa that was declared independent in May 1993. Since independence, Eritrea has been engaged in all-out efforts to rebuild its war-shattered social and economic infrastructure. One of the vital programs in the campaign for national rehabilitation has been in the field of education, which has mainly focused on training skilled personnel for such understaffed vocations as teaching, law, medicine and administration. A rapid improvement in educational facilities has been achieved. The University of Asmara, which was the only institution of higher education in the country, has been engaged in fulfilling the high level human resources that the country needs. Much like many other universities, the mission of the University of Asmara is the discovery, generation and dissemination of knowledge in the service of society. Therefore, the university has been expected to contribute as much as possible to face these challenges. In order to achieve its goals, the university has emphasized the need for reviewing the academic programs and the curriculum. Admission to the university is based on a national examination, which is called the Eritrean Secondary Education Certificate Examination (ESECE). Both the University of Asmara and the Ministry of Education are represented in the ESECE board whose task it is to provide guidelines for the routine activities of the ESECE and to forward fresh initiatives with the aim of developing the center into a strong and competent institution. The entrance examination, which usually lasts for three days, requires the candidates to take two compulsory examinations, English and Mathematics. Candidates also have to take at least three more elective subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, General Science, Geography, History, Economics, Bookkeeping, Agriculture and general knowledge. The criterion for entrance to the university is based on the average grade point average for Mathematics, English and three other elective courses. Due to the high number of applicants for admissions to the university, the selection processes are usually highly competitive. Until 1994 about 10% and from 1995 through 2002 about 19% of the candidates were admitted to the university. The low percentage of students that pass the ESECE examinations justifies the need to investigate the quality of the ESECE During their stay at the university, students are provided with free education, free meals and free medical services. Dormitories are also provided freely to students coming from outside the central region where the university is located. However, in spite of all these free student services and the very competitive selection processes, the attrition rate at freshman level is about 35% on average every year. The attrition rate for second year and above is about 15%. These figures indicate that the attrition at the university is very high and results in a low proportion of graduates. Therefore, the high attrition rate at the university justifies the need to investigate the factors at student and department levels that influence the performance of students during their university career. This implies also that research on the predictive validity of the ESECE is very important. Based on the problems the University of Asmara encounters, the key problems addressed in this research are: (a) To what extent does the ESECE test the ability of students in a satisfactory way? (b) What are important factors that affect the students' performance levels at the university?
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
StatusPublished - 2004

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