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OSA: STATEMENT ON THE ATTEMPT TO ALTER THE QUBEE (ALPHABET) OROMO WRITTEN ALPHABET. #ABCDeebisaa #OromoProtests June 12, 2017

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#ABCDeebisaa

OSA: STATEMENT ON THE ATTEMPT TO ALTER THE QUBEE (ALPHABET) OROMO WRITTEN ALPHABET

For Immediate Release
June 9, 2017
The Oromo Studies Association (OSA) believes the Ethiopian government’s decision to rearrange the order of the Qubee Afaan Oromoo which has been in official use for a quarter century is misguided.
On June 3, 2017, the state-owned TV Oromiyaa (TVO) reported that the Oromia regional state, apparently at the behest of the Federal Ministry of Education of Ethiopia, had decided to alter the order of the qubee (alphabet) used in written Afaan Oromoo (the Oromo language). According to the TVO report, the Oromia Education Bureau made the decision over a year ago and introduced a new primary school curriculum in which the order of Qubee Afaan Oromoo was altered. New textbooks were distributed and early grade teachers were trained to implement the curriculum. Surprisingly, this changes were implemented quietly without consultation or input from the public and experts in the field.
The news report also stated that the changes were prompted by a finding of a USAID-funded study, the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). The study was conducted in 2010 in eight regions and six languages by an American consultancy firm, RTI International. The critical finding of the study that ostensibly occasioned the curricular change was: “by the end of the second grade, a third of students were unable to read at all and about half read at much lower level than the proficiency benchmarked for that grade.”
OSA scholars and experts have scrutinized the EGRA document and several other studies conducted with the support of the USAID-funded Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed Technical Assistance (READ TA) Project. The EGRA researchers did inquire if the scripts and writing systems used in the various regional states had any differential impact on reading skills. The report found no direct link between the two variables and made no recommendation that altering the order of alphabets would improve early grade reading skills. In fact, the study posits that children learn to read faster in their mother-tongue. Accordingly, the USAID project mentioned above supported mother tongue instruction to improve early grade reading. In light of this, OSA maintains that the Oromia regional state’s attempt to leverage external support to implement its ill-advised scheme is a disgraceful act that should not be allowed to stand.
In addition to the EGRA study, officials of the Oromia Education Bureau and its associated experts offered an additional justification for the alteration of the qubee order. They claimed that a “word frequency test” they administered showed the Oromo language had more words whose first letter is the alphabet “L.” This was offered as the rationale for rearranging the qubee order. That means, early grade students will henceforth learn alphabets begin with L, A, G, M, rather than the customary A, B, C, D. If this were in the US, Big Bird and Barney will have to relearn their A, B, C, D, and their alphabet songs.
OSA members and other experts have run similar tests and found that by far the most frequent word in the Oromo language has “A” as the first letter. In fact, “L” is ranked as 13th in one of the tests, 19thwhen the letter is followed by the vowel “a” and 42nd when the upper case “L” is used in the test.
Viewed from the technical vantage point, there is no linguistic or pedagogical basis for altering the qubee order.  In the absence of any study that shows the qubee alphabet as a drag on reading skills or word frequency test results that shows “L” to be the most frequent occurrence,  nothing warrants the Oromia Education Bureau’s decision to change the order of the qubee alphabet and secretly implementing a structural curriculum change. OSA rejects the justifications given by the Oromia regional state officials and the experts as reasons for the ill-conceived scheme.
In fact, the OSA leadership believes that this scheme has a strategic objective. To implement curricular changes that are so radical and disruptive can have no constructive purpose. There is only a political goal to the unjustified changes. Given that the use of the qubee alphabet has gone on for a quarter century, the change to the order of qubee could only create resentment and frustration with the use of the qubee alphabet. OSA believes that tinkering with the Qubee Afaan Oromoo is a slippery slope that shouldn’t be embarked on. It must be opposed.
OSA reaffirms its unflinching support for the use of the Latin alphabet as the sole means of written Afaan Oromoo. The studies that the government has cited as the basis for its action identifies inadequacy of textbooks, reading materials, low student-teacher ratio, truancy and teacher absenteeism as factors for the low level of reading fluency throughout the country. The tried-and-true means for improving reading proficiency is more reading and reading more. The Oromia Education Bureau should focus on what works and turn away from the meaningless proposition to alter the sequence of the Latin alphabet which has almost nothing to do with improving reading fluency.
OSA believes that the decision to change the order of Qubee Afaan Oromoo constitutes violence against the long and bitter struggle Oromo struggle for written Oromo language.  In the 1840s, Oromo slaves began to use Latin alphabets to write in the Oromo language. In the 1870s, Emperor Menelik’s conquest precipitated the adoption of the Ge’ez script for written Oromo literature. For the next century, the Oromo language languished under the clutches of the ill-fitting Geez script.  The use of the Latin alphabet in Oromo transcription re-emerged later in the 20th century, exactly a century later. It was adopted as the official alphabet of written Afaan Oromoo on November 3, 1991 when over 1,000 Oromo intellectuals assembled in the Ethiopian parliament and made a historic and momentous decision to adopt the Latin alphabet in writing in Afaan Oromoo. In light of this history, the Oromia Education Bureau has a choice to make: either stand with the Oromo struggle for written Afaan Oromoo or take the side of those that seek to continue the violence against written Afaan Oromoo that commenced with Menelik’s conquest.
When qubee was adopted as the sole means of written Afaan Oromo, ABCD was the order of the alphabets. This order is synonymous with the Oromoo qubee. What was adopted in a solemn occasion cannot be undone surreptitiously and in such a nonchalant manner as Oromia officials have done.  It is bewildering why the Oromia government officials even contemplated changing by an administrative fiat the sequencing of the Latin alphabet that evolved over several millennia. The order of the qubeealphabets is what unifies the Oromo nation with the rest of the world that uses Latin alphabets. There is no justification for changing this relationship.

Today qubee is the identity of a new generation of Oromo, it is a monument to the triumph of Oromo nationalism, and a symbol of the bitter sacrifice the Oromo have paid to be free from oppression, domination and marginalization.  It is engrained in the minds of the new generation of Oromo and entwined with the Oromo struggle for self-determination. A violence against qubee amounts to a violence against the Oromo struggle for freedom and justice and freedom from violence.  OSA asserts that the order of the alphabet used in written Afaan Oromoo is sacrosanct. It is inalterable.


Ezekiel Gebissa, President, Studies Association

Mekuria Bulcha, Chair, OSA Board of Directors


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UNPO: Oromo: Alterations of Afan Alphabet Raise Concerns About Community’s Cultural Rights June 10, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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#ABCDeebisaa

Oromo: Alterations of Afan Alphabet Raise Concerns About Community’s Cultural Rights

UNPO, 9 June 2017

Photo courtesy of USAID Ethiopia@flickr

Authorities in Oromia changed the order of the Roman alphabet used for the Afan Oromo language on the grounds that the old alphabet order is allegedly an obstacle to the reading skills of Oromo school children. According to Oromo intellectuals, however, this change is aiming at diminishing the cultural rights of the Oromo people who have been subject to a marginalisation process for years. This issue is occupying the center of Ethiopia’s political news cycle, even though this regulation had been silently carried out in 2016. Therefore, there are doubts as to whether the regime uses this debate to divert public attention from large-scale Oromo protests. In the past months, the Ethiopian government has been in the world’s spotlight due to massive human rights violations in the country.

 


 

This article has been published by Global Voices

 

Authorities in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest state, have infuriated language experts and Oromo nationalists with their decision to re-arrange the order of the alphabet of the region’s language, Afan Oromo.

In multilingual and multiethnic Ethiopia, orthographic choices are complex linguistic and political decisions that have great socio-political consequences.

Among Ethiopia’s written languages, most write their language in either the Ge’ez or Ethiopic alphabet, known as “Fidel,” or the Roman alphabet. Afan Oromo officially adopted the Roman alphabet — in its usual order of ABCD and so on — after the current government come to power in 1991.

However, more than a quarter century later, the regional educational authorities of Oromia announced they were reshuffling the “Qubee Afan Oromo” (as the alphabet is called). The first seven letters are:

L A G I M Aa S

 

Justifying the change, authorities blamed the old alphabet order as the reason why reading skills among primary school children in Oromia remain poor. They even cited a research to back up their claim.

There is, however, a problem with their argument. It was based on a misrepresentation of the findings of the research. In fact, the research, which was funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2010, revealed a broader problem of reading skills not only among Afan Oromo-speaking primary school students, but also students whose mother tongue was Amharic, Hararigna, Sidaamu Afoo, Somali and Tigrinya.

In the study, pedagogic and logistical difficulties were identified as factors for poor reading skills in Ethiopia’s six major regions. However, the order of alphabet was not cited as a factor for the dismal reality. In a post on the citizen journalism site OPride.com, one blogger agreed with the findings of the research but questioned the connection it had to the alphabet order, writing:

There is little disagreement on the core problem here: The education quality crisis in Ethiopia needs fixing. The disagreement here though is on the proposed solutions. This is underscored by a key question that everyone is asking: JUST HOW DOES REORDERING THE AFAAN OROMO ALPHABET IMPROVE READING AND LEARNING OUTCOMES?

‘Yet another fraud perpetrated on the Oromo people’

The change actually took effect in 2016 and school textbooks already reflect the reshuffling, but it was done so quietly. So much so that the news of the letter order change only made it into Ethiopia’s political news cycle after government affiliate Oromia Broadcasting Service reported about it. Over last two years, a series of political events with far-reaching repercussions such as protests and internet outages has dominated the country’s news cycle.

As soon as the change was reported, concerned Oromo intellectuals started raising questions.

For them, this is the latest attempt in a series of steps intended to diminish the cultural rights of the Oromo people, who have historically been marginalized in Ethiopia. On Facebook Awol Kassim Allo, wrote:

“The casual change/disfiguring of the Alphabet of a language spoken by more than 40 million people without any debate and discussion is appalling. The excuse given to justify it – improving the ability of children to read at early stages of instruction – is lame and cannot stuck up to scrutiny. …This is yet another fraud perpetrated on the Oromo people and it must be rejected.”

The circumstance of the change also stoked another fear: that the decision to alter the order of the letters might be a plot by people who were disgruntled when the Oromos opted to adopt the Roman alphabet over the Ge’ez alphabet in 1991.

Prior to 1991, Afan Oromo was written in different alphabets. The first Oromo Bible was printed in Ge’ez letters in the 19th century. During the reign of emperor Haile Selassie (1930-1974), Afan Oromo was not a written language.

When Ethiopia’s military regime came to power in 1974, it decreed that all Ethiopian languages must be written exclusively in Ge’ez alphabet— a draconian policy intended to promote unity among Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups.

Parallel to the Ge’ez letters, however, Oromo language experts and Oromo nationalists were also using the Roman alphabet. Paul Baxter, a social anthropologist, wrote that the Roman alphabet was used to transcribe the Afan Oromo language among Kenyan Oromos in the 1940s.

Proponents of the Ge’ez alphabet believe that Ge’ez signifies the rich liturgic and literary tradition of Ethiopia. For them, preserving Ge’ez in the age of the Roman alphabet’s domination is a sign of resistance to cultural globalization and a symbol of identity. Responding to Awol Kassim Allo’s post on Facebook, Abeba Teshale wrote:

“Simple, structured, logical, Ethiopian, African, Amharic/Tigregna alphabet is there for any one interested to adopt. 26 vs 338 syllables! There is an alphabet for each sound and for the ones that don’t have one, we could crate a symbole. Just a thought”

For many Oromos, though, adopting the Roman alphabet is a matter of selecting an alphabet that best fits the Afan Oromo sound system.

According to academic Teferi Degeneh Bijiga, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the topic of Afan Oromo writing system, complex historical, cultural and linguistic forces were at play when Oromo intellectuals decided to adopt the Roman alphabet in 1991.

Over the next few weeks, this issue will be front and center in Ethiopian politics, where the Ethiopian government is operating under a state of emergency because of the protests that began over land use as well as political and economic marginalization in Oromia in November 2015.

Oromia: Tartiiba qubee jijiiruun fumaata hin ta’u. #ABCDeebisaa #OromoProtests June 6, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #ABCDeebisaa, #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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“Early grade reading: The incompetent Ethiopian government has once again to demonstrate its prejudice against the Oromo people. It was supposed to help puples overcome their deteriorating reading skill with US provided fund. RTI (research institute) recommended raising teaching reading skill not alphabet distortion. It pointed out the need for competent teachers to teach the language and teaching aids for the kids. That is what should be improved. It recommended “particular attention to the frequency of letters and words in the language” not to start the alphabet board with those letters as pseudo experts in Sulultaa and their bosses want to convince the people. Qubee Oromo was introduced after the policy was thoroughly discussed by the then legislature. Now it is announced without telling the form of decision making it followed. This is a package that the Oromo people won by their struggle that costed so much sweat and blood. It cannot be taken away without costing the same amount. This is harbinger of worst things to come and should not be passed in silence. People that put Oromummaa after alien interest might have collaborated in this shameful act of isolating Qubee from the long tested Latin alphabet formation. But the main assault is coming from the sinister regime and it alone has to account for it. The empire is no more the source of Oromo knowledges and to meddle with Qubee at one center cannot stop its flourishing and getting desiminated from another center. Oromo have to learn from their Wala’ita neighbors of the past years, when they rose in 1998 against “Wedagogda” Qubee that was meant to distort their identity. Qubee can be acceptable only in the form adopted by the Oromoo.”-Ibsaa Gutamaa


The Qube Saga: Another Attack on the Oromo People

 



Abdii Boruu:- Tartiiba Qubee Afaan Oromoo jijjiiruun waan boba’aa jirurratti boba’aa dabaluu dha


“Qubeen siidaa injifannoo Oromoo ti!” Ezekiel Gebissa


Toltu Tufa, Barreessituu kitaabban Dabballee akkana jette:-

“Qubeen Afaan Oromoo ar’a ittiin fayyadamnu argamuu kan danda’e ijibbaata hayyoonni Oromoo yeroo dheeraaf godhan irraahi. Akkasumas warraaqsi quddina afaanii bara dheeraaf hayyootaa godhamaa turuun isaa ni beekama. Itti fufuudhaan, Sadaasa 3 bara 1991 magaala gudditti Oromiyaa Finfinnee keessatti Afaan Oromoo afaan hujii, barnoota fi mana murtii ta’ee akka tajaajilu seeran labsame jira. Labsa guyyaa seena qabeessa kana irratti NAMOONNI 1000+ ta’an argatan. Labsa kana irratti maan guddoota, hayyoota, dargaggootaa fi bakka bu’ootni dhaabilee Oromoo gara garaa qooda fudhatanii jiru. …Amma, harka namni kudhan qofaatiin, tattaaffii namni 1000 ol kan heera fi seeran dalagame diiguudhaaf ka’anii jiru. Ummanni kanneen karaa #OromoProtests akka irraa haa bannuuf jechu dubbii kana oofuu eegalan.#OldTricks #TimeWasters.”   


 

OPride: The Qubee Afaan Oromo fiasco: What We Know and What We Don’t Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMN- Jijjiiramuu Tartiiba Qubee Ilaalchisee Marii 2ffaa (LIVE)