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BackgroundAt the time the current government came into power, primary school enrollment was less than 20 percent in the country. This was due to the fact that many schools were dilapidated or destroyed due to civil strikes and the war between the past military and the current government. Consequently, Alternative Basic Education was initiated by several NGOs including Save the Children Norway for out of school children.  The regional education bureau has developed a regional ABE strategy through a participatory process. The objectives of the ABE strategy states that the ABE programme is to alleviate the problem of access of children to basic education by establishing a cost-effective, flexible, easily reachable, and community-based basic education centers that are closely linked with, and that effectively serve as satellites or feeders to formal primary schools. The Strategy paved the way for the scaling up of the ABE program which has been supported by Save the Children Norway since 2004. Accordingly, the 2006- 2009 the second phase support for the Scaling up programming has been given. According to the regional education bureau statistics, there were 1,881 ABE centers with 4,122 facilitators providing basic education service to 251,753out of school children (48% girls) in the 2004/05 academic year. This has contributed about 6.7% to the regional primary school enrolment rate. In 2007, 222,759 children were enrolled in 2225 centers. As well known attention was given to access, however quality also became equally an area of concern. Thus, it was necessary to carry out this study. Purpose/objective The overall purpose of the quality study was to assess quality of ABE programme in terms of input, process and outcome and in relation to formal primary education and reveal determinants of ABE quality. Examining  the existing practices and identifying under what conditions ABECs could be converted to formal primary schools and understand the current situations and pointing out the future fates of ABE programme were also areas of investigation. MethodologyThe study is a descriptive survey study aiming at assessing to what extent the input, process, and outcome variables have determined ABE quality. Both participatory qualitative and quantitative techniques were employed in examining the research issues. Data was collected from documents and stakeholders including children through questionnaires, interview guides, observation forms, focus group discussions and tests administered. Key findings Considering the importance of academic performance as one of the best indicators for the quality of education, tests on the 4 subjects – Amharic, English, Mathematics and Environmental Science - were administered to level 3 ABE students and grade 4 formal school students and the results indicated that both groups of students performed poorly in all subjects. For example, on average ABE students scored 58.36% in Amharic, 34.32% in English, 42.31% in Mathematics and 56.52% in Environmental Science tests. Formal school students scored a little higher, i.e., 59.67% in Amharic, 37.47% in English, 45.10% in mathematics and 59.15% in Environmental Science. Girls scored less than boys in all subjects and in both approaches of delivering basic primary education. Recommendationsi Parental literacy: The large majority of parents of the students were found to be illiterate. Children get very little support from parents in terms of meal, reducing child labour and study. As indicated the non-formal strategy of the Amhara region, it is important to conduct adult functional literacy hand in hand with enhanced ABE for children. ii Introducing Early Childhood Care and Development: It is very essential to introduce home and community based Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) particularly in rural areas so that children will get early mental, physical, emotional and social stimulation before they join ABE or formal primary schools.iii Improving the learning environment: The learning environments of ABE programme have been found to be quite limited in providing healthy, safe, productive and gender-insensitive learning facilities. Hence, ABEC specific infrastructural inventory shall be made by all Woredas as soon as possible and actions be taken to alleviate the situationiv Curriculum improvement: The curriculum materials have no as such serious problem. Revision of the curricula whenthe textbooks deplete may gradually follow as a dynamic process.v Professional development of ABE facilitators: For the sake of saving the kids, the consultancy team strongly recommends that all those facilitators with poor language and mathematics subject mastery, poor methodological skills and illegible hand writing shall be sucked out and replaced by capable 10+1 and 12+1 teachers as much as possible. by the facilitators and succession planning are suggested to be part of any professional developmentvi Advocacy: The issues of advocacy towards ensuring ABE quality have to be focused but take a big picture at all levels. The consultants suggest that areas such as revision of ABE strategy, fair budgeting, individual and organizational accountability, genuine community empowerment and partnership for promoting quality ABE shall be focused upon.vii Transforming ABE to formal schools: The function of standard primary school space, ensuring the capacity to establish full fledged primary school, non-availability of primary school at distance of 3 kilometers, ensuring allocation of recurrent budget and the capacity to assign formal primary school qualified teachers by the Government need to be agreed criteria and applied to sift out those ABE centers which have been transformed to formal schools.viii The future fate of ABE: As to the future fates of ABE programme, it has to continue as complementary programme to the formal system keeping in view of overcoming the observed problems indicated in the preceding sections of the study.