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Ethiopia’s remarkable education statistics mask a system in crisis December 28, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Ethiopia’s remarkable education statistics mask a system in crisis

By Tom Gardner, QZ Africa


Thomas Yilma didn’t last a day as a teacher in an Ethiopian government school. After graduating from university he was packed off to a small village in a remote corner of the Ethiopian highlands with scant electricity or phone signal, let alone internet connection, where he was to begin his career. “I felt like I was being abandoned in the middle of nowhere,” he says now. After one restless night he turned around and headed back to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, leaving the country’s state education sector behind him.

Thomas’s story—extreme though it is—sheds some light on the troubles plaguing Ethiopia’s rapidly expanding school system. Though he eventually found a job in an American-owned private school, this too proved only temporary. After six years he did what many of his colleagues—and thousands of teachers across Ethiopia—so often end up doing, and quit the profession entirely. “I never had any desire to become a teacher,” he says. “You could guess what their lives were like. I wanted to be a doctor or an engineer—like everybody else.”

 Few governments in Africa spend as much of their revenues on education as that of Ethiopia. At first sight this is surprising. Education in Ethiopia over the past decade is in some senses a success story. Government statistics are not wholly reliable—the ruling party does a good job of steering clear of most international surveys, making regional comparison difficult—but many of the headline figures are impressive regardless. Few governments in Africa—or elsewhere, for that matter—spend as much of their revenues on education as that of Ethiopia. In a continent which today directs a higher proportion of government expenditure towards the sector than any other—18.4%—Ethiopia has consistently been in the top rank for the past decade. Between 2000 and 2013 it almost doubled the share of its budget allocated to education, from 15% to 27%.

Measured in terms of access to primary education (which is now free), the results are striking. Ethiopia now has one of the highest enrollment rates in Africa, up from the nadir in the early 1990s when it had one of the world’s lowest. The number of primary schools almost tripled from 1996 to 2015, while student enrollment grew from less than 3 million to over 18 million within the same period—almost universalYouth literacy meanwhile jumped from 34% in 2000 to 52% in 2011.

According to the UN’s Education For All Development Index, which provides a snapshot of the overall progress of national education systems, Ethiopia came second only to Mozambique in terms of size of the improvement over the previous decade, and made fastest progress in terms of expanding universal primary enrolment. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of out-of-school children fell by more than 60%.Compare this to Nigeria, which at the same moment experienced a lost decade: the percentage of children out of school showed no improvement whatsoever by the end of it.

Teacher status

But all this masks a deep-seated malaise. According to the government’s own figures, for every 1,000 children who begin school, around one-half will pass uninterrupted to Grade 5 and only one-fifth to completion of Grade 8. Soaring enrolment at secondary level in Addis Ababa—statistical quirks mean the figure here is actually over 100%—contrasts with less than a tenth in the sparsely populated, largely pastoralist region of Afar, which stretches eastwards towards Eritrea and Djibouti.

Those who do manage to stick it out struggle, consistently under-performing what the curriculum expects of them. According to Belay Hagos, director of educational research at Addis Ababa University, students at various grades are learning on average only 40% of the material they are supposed to master. National Learning Assessments, conducted every four years, reveal a stubborn lack of progress. The average score for a Grade 4 student, for instance, dipped from 41% to 40% between 2010 and 2014, and remains stuck below 50% in all regions except Addis Ababa. Comparing 15-year-old children who correctly answered comparable maths questions in 2009 and 2016, Young Lives, a British charity, also found no overall improvement. “I think the education system is in crisis,” says Alula Pankhurst, the charity’s country director.

Why? Part of the answer lies in Thomas’s story. Ethiopia’s brightest and best don’t want to be teachers, and those that do rarely last long. The country’s teachers were once high status: in the northern region of Tigray, the word itself is a title, used to indicate social respect. But this respect has “declined over time,” says Hagos. The profession has been progressively been de-professionalized, ever since the days of the Marxist regime known as the Derg, during which teachers were either co-opted or purged.

Today, teachers are mostly selected from poor-performing students: those who graduate Grade 10 in the top 30% or so go on to Grade 11; those in the tier below join the police; the rest who pass can go to teacher training college. “This is not a good strategy,” says Hagos. “They can’t be good teachers because weren’t good students in the first place.” His latest research has uncovered what he calls a “professional identity crisis”. 70% of those surveyed reported feeling bad about the profession, while 98% said the pay was too low. “They are teachers but they don’t want to be called teachers,” he says. “They are ashamed of it.”

Language problem

Other problems specific to Ethiopia—beyond the obvious lack of financial resources—are compounding its teaching troubles. An especially tricky one is the country’s federal constitution, which devolves a great deal of education policy to the nine regional governments, in particular language of instruction.

 “The transition to English in some regions can be a very, very steep curve.” Even at university level standards can be shockingly poor. Regions tend to choose to educate their children at primary level in the local language, but after that instruction suddenly switches to English—a treacherous passage that few sail through easily. “It’s very worrying,” says Pankhurst. “The transition to English in some regions can be a very, very steep curve.” Even at university level standards can be shockingly poor.

The government knows it has itself in a bind: expanding educational access at such a fast pace was always bound to lead to a dilution in standards. “Ethiopia judiciously picked one route, which was students in rooms and bums on seats,” says Ravi Shankar of Accelerated, a company based in Addis Ababa that is working to improve teaching standards in Ethiopia and elsewhere on the continent. Now the government is making efforts to correct this: teachers wages, for instance, were increased sharply last year, and it has embarked on a large-scale program of skills training for teachers.

But whether it can ever follow in the footsteps of a country like Vietnam—whose single-minded focus on education the government has long sought to emulate—is uncertain. And what if it fails? “A crisis of expectation is a recipe for unrest,” says Pankhurst, noting that the anti-government protests which have swept across much of the country since 2014 were led by students with few prospects and even less hope.



How political interference keeps hurting Africa’s universities July 14, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooCODESRIABecause I am Oromo

How political interference keeps hurting Africa’s universities

By Dr. Ibrahim Oanda, Codesria, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Political interference in Africa’s universities is not new. Universities’ governance was seen as “captured” for narrow political rather than academic ends during the 1980s and 1990s. Politics shaped everything: patterns of student access, curriculum content and teaching methods. Vice-chancellors’ political affiliations mattered far more than their academic standing or vision.

The continent’s universities started changing from the middle of the 1990s. Strong governance structures were prioritised. Governments promised to help steady institutions so they could focus on their academic missions. They also handed over the financial reins, supposedly allowing universities more freedom to generate new income streams.

But studies funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and conducted by the Council for the Development of Social Sciences in Africa (CODESRIA) suggest that not much has changed. The governance and leadership of universities in several countries remains troubled. The same tensions and crises associated with the old political order – student disturbances, harassment of academic staff and widespread academic corruption – persist. Our research suggests there hasn’t been much more than cosmetic autonomy at most African universities.

Political interests rule

We found some deeply worrying trends.

First, Africa’s politicians still see universities as critical outposts for building political clients. They have a deep interest in who becomes a university vice-chancellor. They want to manage who ascends the academic ranks and who serves in student leadership. They also try to assess which academics can be conscripted to offer positive political commentary in the popular media. On the surface, universities’ governance organs appear free to make decisions about academic and leadership appointments. But our data suggests that opaque networks rather than merit determine such appointments at all levels.

It goes further. Universities have money to spend on procuring goods and services. This attracts businesspeople. Politicians, our studies showed, encourage university leaders to employ service providers from their own networks. These practices have turned some vice-chancellors’ offices into bureaucracies that are more interested in business than in academic advancement.

Vice-chancellors also appear to have become more autocratic. This is in reaction to the internal dissent caused by the political meddling described above. Staff and students are routinely subjected to unfair disciplinary processes. Vice-chancellors apply the lessons they learn from becoming bureaucrats to manage academic appointments. Some extend favours to certain internal “clients” – academics – by appointing them to lucrative administrative positions or promoting them without merit. Such positions are highly sought after because they pay better than most teaching posts.

Our research found that many African universities rely on younger academics to occupy senior teaching, research and administrative posts. They do not have the courage or experience to confront a university management gone astray.

Finally, and crucially, African universities lack data. There is little information collated about governance and leadership. This includes such basic statistics as student enrolments and staff numbers. Minutes related to critical governance and management issues, including those involving budgetary processes, remain classified. They can’t be scrutinised by the public – let alone by staff and students at the university.

So what’s gone wrong?

Shortcomings of the ‘reforms’

Part of the problem stems from how “politics” was conceptualised and defined as a problem in university governance. If a country’s president was also a public university’s chancellor, this was seen as political interference. Logically, then, people thought that cutting such visible political links would settle governance issues.

But political interests run far beyond the presidency. Most of Africa’s political and economic elites retain a keen interest in determining how universities’ leadership is constituted. More and more student activities at universities are being organised along political party lines, which attests to new forms of politicisation.

As I explained earlier, universities make good business sense for the elite. These people create networks that extend into universities’ governance structures. Political interference persists. It sets institutions up as little more than business outposts.

There was also an assumption that academics – once freed from narrowly defined political interference – would meaningfully and responsibly utilise their new autonomy. The hope was that they’d emerge as protectors and promoters of the greater public good in higher education. This hasn’t been the case. CODESRIA’s research found that many senior academics have embraced post-1990s reforms only if these offer a stream of extra income. Most academics, we found, prefer administrative to academic appointments because these are more lucrative. This has left most institutions without an experienced professoriate. A senior layer of academics is a critical body for any institution. It can stand up against management’s excesses and act as a vanguard for the institution’s academic mission.

Here the continent’s older institutions – like the universities of Ibadan, Legon, Nairobi, Makerere and Dar es Salaam – have fared better than newcomers. Older universities tend to have a greater number of highly trained academics still in their service. Institutions that were established during the 1980s, 1990s and more recently haven’t been able to build a robust professoriate. These younger institutions tend to be battling most with governance and management issues, as well as the attendant erosion of academic reputations.

Tackling the problem

There are several ways to start making universities’ “autonomy” from politics more than cosmetic.

University managers must be required by law to open up their systems to broad public scrutiny. For example, they should conduct some aspects of their affairs through public hearings. Most countries’ constitutional provisions already insist on public participation around budgetary and policy issues. Parliamentary committees undertake their work in public, but most African universities seem reluctant to embrace such aspects of accountability.

This sort of transparency would tackle claims of bias in academic appointments and financial improprieties that are emerging as the “new face” of corruption in most universities. Imagine if prospective vice-chancellors and senior professors were interviewed publicly? Ordinary citizens could also be called on to make suggestions about a public university’s development and direction. These institutions are, after all, funded from the public purse.

Another area that needs attention is data governance: the collection, storage and dissemination of data for decision-making. Our research has found that most African universities are strangely casual about data. There’s no accurate record of admissions, so no plans are made about building infrastructure to keep up with student numbers.

This comes at a time when the use of open data is being encouraged as a benchmark for university quality. Studies have pointed out how open data can open opportunities for improving higher education’s governance and provide evidence that improves policy.

Africa is lagging behind. Universities claim, for instance, that they’re producing graduates ready for the job market. But we couldn’t find a single credible graduate tracer study or labour market survey to back such claims. Better data governance structures would lessen the chances of backroom deals and political interference in the running of Africa’s universities.


Related article:



Baankiin Addunyaa, Dinagdeen Itoophiyaa waggoota sadan dhufan gadi bu’a jedhe. July 12, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index, Poverty.
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???????????Oromia Media Networkpopulation in multidimensional poverty




(OMN: Oduu Adol.12,2015): Guddinni dinaagdee Itoophiyaa waggoota sadan dhufan keessatti,harka lamaan akka gadi bu’uu Baankiin Addunyaa gabaase. Baankiin Addinyaa gadi bu’uu guddinna dinaagdee Itoophiyaa kan hime, gabaasaa bara 2015 guddina diinagdee Itoophiyaa ilaalchisuun baaseen akka ta’e barameera.
Gabaasni waggaa kanaa baankiin addunyaa guddina diinagdee Itoophiyaa ilaalchisuun baase akka mul’isutti, guddinni diinagdee Itoophiyaa,waggoota itti’aanan kanatti ni dabala jedhamee eegamaa ture qabxii lamaan akka gadi bu’u baankiin Addunyaa himeera.
Gabaasni Baankiin Addunyaa kun, sababaa gadi bu’iinsaa diinaagdee Itoophiyaa yoo himu, sochiileen investimeetiifi konistraakshiinii qabbana’uun isaanii qancaruu diinaangdeef kanneen duraati jechuun Baankii Addunyaatti, itti gaafatamaan sagantaa diinaagdee Laarsi Moolar dabbataneeran.
Gaabasni baankii Addunyaa kun itti dabaluun akka beeksisetti, sochiin daldala biyya alaa qabbana’a dhufuusaatiin humni maallaqa sharafa biyya alaafi baajanni fiisikaala mootummaalle rakkoo keessa seenuun, sochii daldala biyya alaatiifi biyya keessaa giddutti madaalliin duufuun sharafni biyya alaa dhabamuun diinaagdee Itoophiyaa rakkoo keessa akka galchu addeeffameera.
Liqaan biyyootaa alaa Itoophiyaa irra jirulle, dhibeentaa 45 irraa gara 65 tti akka ol guddatu gaabsni baankii addunyaa kun saaxileera. Liqaa biyyoonni alaa Itoophiyaa irraa qaban kana kan akka malee ol kaasaa jiru, liqaa baroota dheeraafi dhala gadi bu’aa waliin kanfalamurra, liqaan yeroo gabaabaa keessatti kafalamuufi dhala hedduu dhalu heddummaachaa waan dhufeef akka ta’ee gabaasni Baankii Addunyaa kun addeesseera. Gabaa Addunyaa irratti dabalaa dhufuun humnni jijjiirraa doolaralle, liqaa ittoophiyaa irra jiru ol kaasaa jira jedhameera. Gatiin doolaara yeroo gabaabaa keessatti dhibeentaa 25n dabalaa akka dhufe ragaaleen agarsiisanii jiran.

Gabaasaan Daani’eel Bariisoo Areerii.

Ethiopia’s higher-eduction boom built on shoddy foundations, George West, The Guardian June 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index, Free development vs authoritarian model, Schools in Oromia, The Global Innovation Index, Uncategorized.
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The country desperately needs new universities to drive development, but most of the 30 built in the last 15 years fall woefully short


Higher education


The declining standard of Nigeria’s premier institution, the University of Ibadan, ten years ago is reflected in Ethiopia where the quality of new universities varies widely. Photograph: George Esiri/REUTERS


Ethiopia’s higher education infrastructure has mushroomed in the last 15 years. But the institutions suffer from half-written curriculums, unqualified – but party-loyal – lecturers, and shoddily built institutions. The rapid growth of Ethiopia’s higher education system has come at a cost, but it is moving forward all the same.

Twenty years ago the Ethiopian government launched a huge and ambitious development strategy that called for “the cultivation of citizens with an all-round education capable of playing a conscious and active role in the economic, social, and political life of the country”. One of the principal results of Ethiopia’sagricultural development-led industrialisation strategy (ADLI) has been a rapid expansion in the country’s higher education system. In 2000 there were just two universities, but since then the country has built 29 more, with plans for another 11 to be completed within two years.

The quality of these new universities varies widely; from thriving research schools, to substandard institutions built to bolster the regime’s power in hostile regions. One professor recalls a hurried evacuation from part of a recently completed university while he was working there: one of the buildings had collapsed.

But there have also been success stories. The University of Jimma, for example, has come first in the Ethiopian Ministry of Education’s rankings for the past five years, and is held up as evidence of ADLI’s efficacy since its establishment in 1999. The most recent development at Jimma, the department of materials science and engineering (MSE), opened for students in 2013, and has quickly expanded to become one of the top research schools in the sub-Saharan region. The department’s founder, Dr Ali Eftekhari, has since received a fellowship from the African Academy of Sciences on the back of the project’s success.

This success is much-needed. At 8%, African higher education enrolment issignificantly lower than the global average of 32%, and Ethiopia trails even further behind, with fewer than 6% of college-age adults at university. Research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem) is starting from a particularly low base in Africa. The World Bank reported last year that though the sub-Saharan region has “increased both the quantity and quality of its research” in recent years, much of this improvement is due to international collaboration, and a lack of native Africans is “reducing the economic impact and relevance of research”.

Dr Eftekhari echoes these concerns: “The problem for development in Ethiopiaand similar African countries is higher education itself. This is the reason that I focused on PhD programs. “For instance, Jimma’s department of civil engineering has over 3,000 undergraduate students. These civil engineers are the future builders of the country, but there is not one PhD holder among the staff; most only have a BSc.”

Eftekhari improvised and sweet-talked in order to get the department established; in its first year, the department taught 18 PhD students – all native Ethiopians – on almost zero budget, with staff donating their time and money until funding was secured from the ministry of education. Despite the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF) push for development, Ethiopia’s political landscape remains a minefield for education professionals, says Eftekhari: “People are always suspicious about the political reasons behind each new project. I decided to start with zero budget to allay those doubts. In developing countries everything has some degree of flexibility. I used this to borrow staff and resources from the rest of the university until we could secure a budget.

“Many of the staff saw the project as a career opportunity,” says Eftekhari, but altruism also played a part. The department’s research focuses primarily on solving the country’s pressing poverty and development problems. “They knew they were actually saving lives,” says Jimma’s innovation coordinator, Maria Shou.

The belief that science and engineering is key to alleviating poverty propels the work of the school. Projects range from the development of super-capacitors for the provision of cheap power, to carbon nanomaterials for Ethiopia’s expanding construction industry. “You only need a couple of weeks in Ethiopia to realise that materials science is a priority,” says Pablo Corrochano, an assistant professor at the school. “Even in the capital you’ll experience cuts in power and water; in rural areas it’s even worse. Producing quality and inexpensive bricks for building houses, designing active water filters, and supplying ‘off-the-grid’ energy systems for rural areas are all vital to the country’s development.”

However, Jimma’s success could be seen as a bit of an anomaly. Paul O’Keeffe, a researcher at La Sapienza University of Rome, who specialises in Ethiopia’s higher education system, believes that similar initiatives are needed, but that the government’s politics are an obstacle: “My research indicates that the rapid expansion of the public university system has seen a dramatic decline in the quality of education offered in recent years. Instead of putting resources into improving the existing system, or establishing a few good institutions, the EPRDF has built many new universities, largely for political reasons.

“A lot of the time the universities are merely shells. They do not function as universities as we would expect and are poorly resourced, and in some cases shoddily built. It would seem that they are built almost as a token where the EPRDF can say to hostile regions ‘look we are doing something for you, we’ve built a university’.”

Even when the universities do function, the quality of education is often low: “Once the funding, say from a western development agency, is finished for a particular course, it is no longer taught as the university authorities believe they can get funding for a new course instead; whatever is the latest fashionable course. So often this type of education for development is not sustainable.”

Reports of spies, classroom propaganda, of curriculums that have been abandoned half-written due to funding cuts, and of unqualified staff are common at these universities, which make up the bulk of Ethiopian higher education, says O’Keeffe. “The party line is peddled during class, students are required to join the party, [there are] various reports of spies in the classrooms, who monitor what is said and who says it.”

A lecturer at Addis Ababa University, who wished to remain anonymous, is concerned primarily with the lack of qualifications among staff: “What is disturbing is that those who have just graduated with BAs and MAs are the lecturers. That is the manpower that they have. If you talk with students you wouldn’t believe that these students actually graduated from these so-called universities. Their inability to articulate their thoughts is breathtaking. It is extremely frustrating and you wonder how they have spent four years at university studying a doctorate.”

In this context, the MSE school provides a beacon of hope. The school’s success demonstrates that higher education – Stem research in particular – has the potential to thrive and play a central role in helping Ethiopia to reach its goal of becoming a middle-income nation by 2025, provided political interests are put to one side. Let’s hope the EPRDF takes note.