Using a young Lives project data , a combination of quantitative and qualitative method was used to analyse the determinants of school completion/dropout of children from primary education. A Cox box proportional hazard model was used to analyse the survival of children in primary education. The findings have important implications for the formulation and revising Ethiopian Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. While the policy focus of the 1996-initiated ESDP and the SDPRP (2002-5) on increasing educational access for all has been broadly successful, children from poor and/or highly indebted families still face significant constraints because they have to contribute to household survival through paid and unpaid work. It is, therefore, imperative to increase efforts to improve the livelihood options of the poor, including greater income generation opportunities, particularly in rural areas and for women. However, such strategies need to be child sensitive. For instance, income generating opportunities for women should simultaneously be accompanied by community childcare systems in order to prevent older children from shouldering their mother’s childcare burden.