Ethiopia: A Country with No University! by Yiheyis Aemro

October 21st, 2010 Print Print Email Email

The current motto of Addis Ababa University is “Change@AAU”. Why now? Who told them that this university is badly in need of a change? What inspired them to opt to such a slogan now after doing whatever they wanted to do to desecrate this pioneering shrine of higher education in the country like a poorly trained sentinel says “Stop!” after firing? Who is then going to be responsible for the downfall of this university?

Well, whether you hide it or not, whether you titivate it or leave it as it is, the real beauty of somebody or something is always there with the entity it belongs to. Moreover, the more we speak of the magnificence or the beauty of somebody or something, the more exposed they will become among the public in such a manner that everyone takes note of any single move by the entity in question. It is very important to read between the lines, for example, if we happen to see an advertisement written like this: “This water tank doesn’t change the taste of the water!” Suspect the worst, guys. As soon as we see such an advert, the suspicious man amongst us may instantaneously retort, “Aha! Why do they say this? Does it mean the water tank changes the taste?…” As languages are most often employed to conceal the truth, we should be careful to trust anything told or read. Let’s ‘not be the slave of words’ as one Scottish historian put it nicely. And I remember a saying which denotes the use of a language to conceal the reality rather than to tell the truth. Enough is said as an introduction to the ‘Introduction to Addis Ababa University’.

A friend of mine and I went to Addis Ababa University last time. As we were walking towards the office we were heading to, suddenly some ugly words came out of my mouth without the approval of my conscious mind: “What a stench! I smell a putrid stink of this university.” These were the words, to confess here to you. And my friend, as a matter of luck, shared my emotional remark and echoed the same feeling. Physically the campus was rather beautiful and some constructions are undergoing to expand the facilities. Then how did my subconscious reflected something against the facial beauty of this old campus of AAU, despite the fact that it was once an exemplar higher education institution in Africa during the reign of Emperor Haile Silasie I? What changes have been made since then that have turned this ‘one – to – its – mother’ university to be seen currently as the worst high school in the Sub-Saharan Africa? I do remember that this university was called ‘the best high school in Africa’ during the Dergue. It is heartbreakingly lamenting that it couldn’t even maintain that relatively benign name and has now degenerated to the worst of high schools in the countries of the ‘underworld’. Why? Could there be any relationship between the obliteration by vagabonds of a country and its educational institutions?

It is beyond my capacity to explain how this university could encounter all the problems it is immersed in now, albeit it doesn’t need any research to identify the chronic problems it has been facing through out its existence up until the present time. The major problem we all know is that it has never had academic freedom and especially in the Woyanne’s Regime, I do believe that this University is serving as one major war front to destroy the country’s intellectual and historical property so that the nation will never resurrect in the future even after this brutal government will have gone. Though it would be difficult to me to say many things in regard to how and who are responsible for the total decadence of this University, nonetheless, I shall pinpoint just a few observations I happened to come across including the time of my studenthood in the early ‘70s.

Understandably, it is obvious that the quality of education, whether it is qualitatively high or low, can be metered by the performance of the graduates when they join the work force. In light of this, it has been clear among the employing stakeholders that most of the graduates from Addis Ababa University or any of the universities in the country for that matter fail to satisfy even the minimum requirement of the profession their certificates of graduation state along with the ‘Honours, Previleges, and Obligations’ thereof.

In regard to instructors, the majority seems to be qualitatively low in the teaching profession and void of interest and dedication towards this delicate career through which a society is built, a country is developed and a generation is transformed into a higher level of material prosperity and spiritual upheaval. As a matter of fact, if a country lacks devoted educators and enlightened leaders in every walk of life, that country is subject to various dwarfisms. And that is what is happening in Ethiopia. Sorry to say, it was Addis Ababa University which was sentenced to be hanged first before the entire collapse of the country was declared by the Woyannes some 20 years back. Until 1991, AAU was somehow trying to survive, though the interference of the Dergue was visibly seen in a significant manner. But since the time those 42+ instructors were sacked, and the management of the university fell in the hands of the narrow-minded ethnocentric people, the deterioration continued unabatedly and now it seems the university is found in a situation where every thing is out of control. To your surprise, the staff of the university has no access even to many of the websites on the internet to which every refugee and dissident in the outside world has a 24/7 access without being supervised or checked, just free of charge or with a minimal rate. The privacy of instructors is invaded to the extent of being unable to communicate with friends or colleagues through their email addresses, for the Woyanne people in the server’s room control everything done in the campus. They access every document of instructors including their email chats and anything they do on their computers via the sophisticated gadgets installed for the purpose of surveillance. The people in the server’s room can read the emails of instructors, according to the information I received from a friend who works there. And if one tries to use any of the proxy sites to unblock Ethiopian websites, like for example ethiomedia.com or ecadforum.com, it is absolutely impossible to access any one of them. Instead, the logo of the university pops up and presents the breaking news that you are denied an access to such politically “taboo” sites in Ethiopia. This is Addis Ababa University in brief. This incidence itself clearly indicates that the teaching staff along with other employees of the university is reckoned as modern slaves who can speak but cannot demand any of the human or citizenship rights they deserve. If the suppression by the Woyanne is such frightening and terrible at AAU, what do you expect it to be among the ordinary ‘laymen’ elsewhere in the country? Isn’t it surprising to have such sleepy academia in the 21st century of the IT age? On my behalf, I got ashamed of them, especially when I learned that they are like pet animals to the Woyanne government. Can’t they gather momentum and ask their officials for free access at least to the internet? If the so called intelligentsia is wading in such a muddy quagmire of oppression and suppression, who else would dare to even try to ask the Beast to loosen the yoke?

The number of spies in the campus is almost equivalent with that of the number of people to be spied. No one can talk freely in the compounds of AAU. The situation of the campus is rather similar with that of the situation of a concentration camp filled with prisoners of war or a jail in which people are afraid of even their own shade. It is a pity to see Addis Ababa University in such a sorry state. Most of the spies, whose ethnic background is mostly from that of the ruling junta, are ‘students’ of the university who neither graduate nor withdraw or get dismissed. They are shamelessly there for years until they are finally replaced by a new crew. They act like a student so that they can get the trust of the innocent ones.

When I was in campus last time, of all the things that struck me most was the grouping of students. You observe students in smaller and bigger groups; a pack of Tigrians conspiring here, a hedge of walking Amharas dispiritedly cursing their luck there, a molehill of Oromos threatening down over there, a mound of Southerners slandering here, a pile of Afaris blabbing there, etc. Quite lamentably and as is expected from the present tune of ethnic politics, the language of these groups is different one from the other, seemingly, the groups have almost nothing in common, they rather look antagonistic to each other. This group talks in Oromiffa while that one, over there talks in Tigrigna or Amharic or any other Ethiopian language. Naturally, the use of different languages by different groups in the campus per se doesn’t have any problem. The problem is the insincerely implied overconfidence when some students talk in their mother tongue the tone of whom could tacitly be understood that they want to convey a certain negatively ionized provocative message or skewed impression to others. This sort of unnatural polarization is rampant in the campuses of AAU, and such tense situations are purposely instigated through the first grade sponsorship of the ethnocentric government we have in Ethiopia. As members of the youngest generation, these students should have something in common to which they all give their prior attention instead of forming various yet disconnected enclosures that cannot help them in any way. Simply put, they are the scum of the lost generation and unless they get conscious sooner rather than later and shift a gear, they will definitely remain as victims of the Beast. I don’t know whom I am calling the ‘Beast’. But I suppose this Beast should be the one who has spelled over us, Ethiopians, the abracadabra for the prevalence of permanent chaos in our country in such a way that we shall never find the antidote easily may be until the time we all will have been perished. Though the course of Ms Nature is meanderingly unpredictable, for the better or the worse sides, when we see the modus operandi of Ethiopian politicians and the public at large, the future doesn’t seem to hold anything positive. Anyways, He knows. Who else is expected to know, dear readers, the final scenario of such absolute anarchy and national degradation?

In connection with the quality of personalities, as mentioned earlier here above, most of the instructors are academically poor, even there are some who don’t deserve to enter the campus as a guest, leave alone offering courses. Behaviorally, as there are decent and well behaved instructors, there are on the other hand some others who wouldn’t totally fit the job. Among others, discriminatory grading based on sexual ‘bribe’, ethnic and religious affiliation, bias and prejudice, inability to check or correct students’ examinations and/or assignments fairly and duly, lack of good classroom management, lack of preparation on lessons to be delivered, lack of good command of language to properly deliver the lessons, absence of accountability, carelessness, inability to cope up with the current status quo of the world through reading materials or attending discussion fora, and gluttony are the most devastating common denominators amid problematic teaching and service providing staff. Such demeaning behaviors of instructors and employees are also purposely encouraged, even incentivized through promotions and financial subsidies by the regime, for unless the instructors themselves are spoilt first, the generation to be entrusted to these ladies and gentle men wouldn’t be ruined as implicitly understood from the strategic plan of the 100 hundred years of the great home work given by EPLF to Ethiopians through TPLF. As a matter of fact, the mission of Woyanne is to destroy Ethiopianism along with those citizens who claim to be genuine Ethiopians. I remember the interview of Issayas Afeworki with The Economist, he said, ‘Securing the independence of Eritrea is very easy; what might be difficult is maintaining the existence of the independence everlastingly. To that end, we[EPLF] are working with EPRDF so that the independence of Eritrea will stay unaffected forever….” (Sorry, it is not word for word.)

In general, this university should have been a place where justice would prevail, but it is a place wherein injustice is flourishing. This university could serve the country as a tower of intelligence and scholasticism but it has turned itself against such domains. This university should epitomize and be an advocate of democracy and human rights but it is unfortunate that it has become a parody of such cherished values of an enlightened society. This university should serve as an example of harmony and reconciliation but it is alarming that it has become a center of discordance and dissymmetry. This institution should play a role in halting conflicts and checking the power of the political hub of the country but it has become a victim itself due to the influence from those myopic people who have seized the reins of the throne. AAU should have been the quintessence of well mannered Ethiopianism but regrettably it has become the worst of its kind in the realm of academics globally. This university should produce academically excellent, socially interactive and problem solving, attitudinally positive thinkers, and morally courageous citizens who stand for the human and citizenship rights of the mass and fight for the democratization process to succeed and good governance to prevail in the nation. But this university is practically proliferating morally decadent, psychologically egoistic and narcissist, academically inept, behaviorally immature, sexually super active and religiously loose citizens. Therefore, in light of the discussion herein, most of all, this university should firstly free itself from the fetters of blinding illiteracy which is laminated by such unyielding titles like ‘PhD’ and the like because of which it has astoundingly been disintegrated, before it dares (to) attempt to be a remedy for others. Truly speaking, a blind can’t lead a blind. If so, both of them will fall headlong into the abyss of the thickest darkness. AAU, wake up, and do miracles!
Finally, before I come to my closure, let me take an opportunity once more to praise Dr Dagnachew Assefa of AAU who has recently broke a record in silencing silence itself and spoke the truth about Birtukan Mideksa. Let God bless you, Dr. We need more of your likes especially at home who can remind Woyanne of the fact that Ethiopia mothers not only the cowardice and the traitors but also the brave and the gallant.

Bonus,
‘Dinner with a condom’ at AAU,
There was a certain doctor at AAU. It is a real episode by the way. This doctor was HIV positive. Everyone knows that he was positive and he also knows that everyone was not unaware of his HIV status.
One day, he told one of his she – students to appear in his office, as this tradition is wont to few of the ‘Most Educated’ Honorable Professors and Doctors. She went and entered his office after undergoing the usual ceremony of entering an office, such as clearing the throat and knocking at the door before getting into the room. Then, after the salutation, he says, “I would like to invite you for dinner, this evening,” she answers, in deep surprise and shocking, in fact, “No, thanks” His prompt Freudian slip was, “Don’t worry, it is with condom.” Can you imagine a “dinner with a condom”? Yes, it is because the place is Addis Ababa University. If we keep on mentioning such absurdities, you will get this nominally grandeur institution very disgusting and you may become desperate even to the extent of not sending your children to this university. Look, if AAU is like this, how about the others which are mushrooming in the country just for the sake of writing a good report in regard to expanding higher education? We know these empty campuses all over the country are without qualified instructors and facilities needed to run those utopian academic programs. They are simply waste of time and the limited resource we have. In this regard, can we really say we have universities especially when compared to the state of the art in the modern world, like for example assigning students in a remote ‘university’ whose instructors are mentally as well as physically as young as their students, and in most cases they are there merely to win their daily bread?
By the way, when are we going to have at least one good country, at least one good leader, at least one good university, at least one common flag, at least one good stadium, at least one good political party, at least one good nationalistic legion of army, at least one good highway, at least one good Olympic size gymnasium, at least one truthful Moses that can show us the real essence of liberty,…? It is homework to every one of us.

  1. amoraw
    | #1

    One of the best thing that EPRDF did is demystifying access to higher education in Ethiopia. It began with Addis Ababa University which was decades back a bastion Ayssinian orthodoxy beset with unnecessary conservatisime. The result: about 33 Addis Ababa Unversities throughout the country, bringing higher education closer to ever Ethiopan youth as the result of which joining a University and pursuing a study in the field of one’s own chice is no more a luxary reserved for few elites. This denied the chance for Addis Ababa University of serving as the symbol of Abyssinian chauvinisme. So your misgivings are only to be seen in this light.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    did u seriously think anyone would read all this ..i sense it is lots of crap

  3. ታዮ
    | #3

    Now ሰም ይዎጣል ክበት ይክትላል ጎራቦት

  4. Sintayehu
    | #4

    First of all who is ther writter?his name says all a banda arterain aka the talkers.Good for nothing.I just don’t get it why his rubbish allowed to drop at ethiopian websight.moderartor why do you allow this kind of garbage at this websight?This dude is not anti-weyane he is like his fathers anti ethiopian.
    why don’t he worry about his sing-a-poor you guys are paranoid to the bone. but the question is ‘for how long’? I understand that you are waiting for ethiopia to disappear in the thin highland air, but although any thing is possible, meaning, even the world might end, I can assure you that Eritrea will not be there to see the end of the world. Your world has started and ended.
    The slogan of Singapore is long gone without even Eritrea being at least an African nation. Eritrea is just a lawless and future anarchy so called state heading towards being another Somalia. Ethiopia Tikdem

  5. tesfaye
    | #5

    You might be right that this governemnt built empty compuses all over the country…I knew that, but I do not know what you did for this country. It is easy thing to just discredit what others do. Please if you have some golden idea put it in practice, if not shut your mouth.

  6. Taye
    | #6

    Amoraw, can you rewrite it again so that I can understand what you want to say. I tried to fiigure out but could not come with any thing. Look what you wrote, “It began with Addis Ababa University which was decades back a bastion of Ayssinian orthodoxy beset with unnecssary conservatisime.” please write with words that you are familiar with and let others ubderstand what you wrote. This is exactly what the above writer want to mention here.
    Thanks

  7. woyanew
    | #7

    hey Mr Yiheyis, our road seams lost in the forest. there is no way out unless we cleared the bushes around us.and set them on fire, grouping similar bushes together. well why are we waiting for. We did to Fashists with sword and spears, can we dig those swords from their graves and use them? there are some I know located at Adwa, Metema, gojjam, Jimma, and other places which their’s soil coud spaek aloud for those who have ears.
    can we first be united and clear the bushes,so that the beasts don’t have no where to hide?

  8. RACIST!!!!!’Really’ WOW
    | #8

    “a pack of Tigrians conspiring here, a hedge of walking Amharas dispiritedly cursing their luck there, a molehill of Oromos threatening down over there, a mound of Southerners slandering here, a pile of Afaris blabbing there, etc”

  9. Iwnetaw
    | #9

    Mr. Aemiro,
    You should be ashamed of yourself for portraying AAU the way you did. The things you said are either extreme exaggerations or outright lies.

  10. Wettu Enewta
    | #10

    The idiotic scribble by the commentator above is symptomatic of what went wrong with education at all levels in Ethiopia. Regimes come and go. But one of the most important things for humanity is the preservation of the beneficial aspects of culture, knowledge and civilization. You do not destroy the whole system of education and claim to be on the fore-front of the pathway to development and progress.The University has been destroyed by the regime who wanted an ethnocentric education (Tigrean oriented) as well as by the Oromo students who attend there, by tearing down the facilities as a form of silent protest against the regime. I know what I am writing about because I was there as a visiting lecturer. And with regard to those 32 other universities throughout the country, I can assure the reader that they are not worth the paper their letter head is printed on.

  11. bilbo
    | #11

    It’s becoming obvious that gradatues of Ethiopian university are becoming incompetent in the world market. This shows how our educational system is very weak.But this falls as a burden to all of us not to the government. i, myself was among the top students, but have difficulty to work in US.

    Let’s strive for change

  12. koster
    | #12

    Woyane is doing a systemmatic “MADENKOR”. The quality of education in the golden Tigrai is different. Mussoloni limited to 4th grade but woyane / Meles is clever enough to train “trained/educated” Denkoros

  13. elias b.
    | #13

    dear mr. amero
    i dont get how you could degrade each university in the country and make aau the best of its kind. i agree that the new campus’ around the country are bad but that does not exempt AAU nor is it better. i was a student of those other universities(in tigrai and no its not that much quality than you care to believe its the same as in every state in the country) and yes you are right there are young people there just out for their daily bread; don’t even get me started with the equipment!!! accommodations!!!!(i will write a book about that) but we got with the program and dealt with it. in AAU there are “professors” that are there just for the same thing that the young guys of my university were. just because a group of old army guys decided to go to the civil service college to get their degree does not give them the status of intellects. i would take those young guys over “the experienced professors of “dinner with condom”" any day of the week. lets not forget that the greatest minds like the late kitaw ejigu did not learn in AAU but he made it out and became greatness. where are those graduates of the haileseilassse and derg. what did they do that was so great to the country? that’s just empty patriotism. i now work for a fortune 500 company with out any other additional paper signifying that i am qualified for the job that i have other than my degree i received in my country. i agree with you that we need a serious change in the education of the country with universities in particular.
    and all you ethnic-racist guys with the whole eth erit thing — its been decades. give it up!!!! no body cares. and as for the oro-ama-tig-ssnp thing — that just proves that you are so old you dont know the current ethiopia. update!!!! free speech does not mean that you have to talk garbage. if you dont know what to say then just shut up. zimita work neew if applied when it matters.
    thanks for the ariticle Y. hope there are more people ranting for change like you
    pround eth. eli

  14. WakeUp
    | #14

    This is the problem, the Tigrayans should never have been allowed to come close to power,let alone take it and use it in a dictatorial manner as they are doing now because everything they tend to destroy everything they come in contact with.

    It is not just the AAU, it is also the great Ethiopian Orthodox Church,the Ethiopian Airlines,the city of Addis Abeba,the country of Ethiopia,the Ethiopian Airforce,the Black Lion Hospital,the prestige and ones good name of Ethiopia,etc.

  15. Andenet G.
    | #15

    Indeed AAU is a Mad!Mad!Mad institution to have a decent education at, specially with the current administration. Thanks to the current head masters (loyal government employees)“CHANCELORS” for bringing down the once famous school in Africa to its misery. I am Very sad and heavily affected by it. As a former Alumni and participant at the fine arts, my acquaintance with the university goes along with too many happy memories.

    The Lord be with us!

  16. Chelmo Aykerm
    | #16

    What an interesting article! Good work Yiheyis. I am interested in both the writer and the comments hereabove. the writer has said what he felt about this big institution of AAU, which is I believe right. why do others like iwentaw and the likes cry about the dead horse? aau is there to serve woyanne through its ‘shumegnoch’ handpicked by it so that everything at aau gets along with their plan of destrying the nation. what new then that makes you bark like a dog? why are you so sympathetic to woyanne? you too will get your reward for your being blind while ‘your’ country ethiopia is being demolished from the surface of the earth. now as long as your bellies are withwhatever woyanne provides u, you go on barking. maferiawoch. we know thereality. we know what is happening on the ground. u cannot give any coverup to conceal the stark naked public realities.
    and this writer is not racist. go to aau and see it yourself. students as well as staff group themselves according to the open decree of ethnocentricism of the waoyanne regime. all people know this. so please donot bulge out your mouth to lie again again.

  17. Gobez
    | #17

    @tesfaye

    I appreciate your response to this writer with the right question. All of us have to ask ourselves before criticizing and defaming others who are doing something. If you can’t do anything different, then shut your mouth. Show us something that works better.

  18. Helina
    | #18

    The state of Higher Education in Ethiopia – a response to Yiheyis Aemro

    Thank s Yiheyis for sharing your thoughts and concerns about the status of Higher Education in Ethiopia. Yes I agree that there are serious concerns in our university system that need the attention of all Ethiopians irrespective of our political, ethnic or religious affiliations.

    As I am very much familiar with the existing university system, yes there is a clear compromise of quality for quantity. Just to cite an example, Universities starting in May plan and prepare to enroll 3000 Students for the upcoming September but in August the government phone call will tell them to take 5000 students; they have preparation for 3000 you can practically imagine its impact on quality. The University system has to rash into the photocopying of books, recruiting additional teachers, constructing temporary class rooms, Temporary laboratories, temporary dormitories, temporary Kitchens, temporary dining rooms, etc; since they have no other choice like say no to government decision. Yiheyes, I want you to put yourself as a manager of one of those universities, in fact you may not understand by reading commentaries the type of phone calls you get from the Ministry, the contractors, parents you can forget the extent of “harassment” and intimidation you may get from the local politicians, if you want imagining yourself working out of Addis. Then think positive and independent and don’t forget the very fact that there are still genuine Ethiopians that could do better jobs within that rotten system.
    Please understand me that I am not trying tell you to keep quit or accept the status quo, rather my intention is that lets’ open a constructive dialogue avoiding such instances like “Dinner with a Condom” since there are still hundreds of respected, competent and visionary intellectuals in Addis Ababa University who still may think and are able to do better for their institution but yet who don’t have the opportunity because of their political loyalty.
    Although I am happy that you came forward with your observations, to be more frank, I am also a little bit uncomfortable with some of your approaches. Your approach seems to lack objectivity for instance when we comparing AAU with high schools and other institutions we need to have some objective research based common yardsticks that measure the standard or quality of higher institutions of learning. Like you are, I am also the product of AAU a decade after you left I graduated from AAU and never felt inferior when I compare myself with people that come from other African Universities. I agree that AAU has thousands of problems but belittling it will take us nowhere. Above all politicizing and polarizing everything at hand is the current epidemic among Ethiopians that needs serious attention. I am not a supporter of the current rulers in politics but I seriously believe throwing something that adds value to what we have instead of the “destroy everything old” mentality. Although I tend to appreciate your command of jargons, piles of them won’t take us anywhere we want, unless we are able enough objectively and realistically to hammer the issue at stake.
    Hence, for the sake of future discussions and inclusion of some positive feed backs I want to gear the issue in to two major areas the problems and solutions.

    1. Major Problems

    • Leadership crisis: most of the universities including the one I worked for until recently have grave leadership problems, including lack of vision, political loyalty, lack of freedom to decide what is strategically good for their Institutions and political pressures by government authorities.
    • Hostile environment and approaches like the one we saw from your commentary (extremely negative to contribute to the betterment of the situation) are draining what is there to work for the good of our universities. I am not standing against some of the true observations you made and I am not a cadre of any of the political parties including the ruling one, but I couldn’t withstand the extremisms reflected in the electronic media and the means employed to make one’s case get enough attention.
    • The trade of quality for quantity
    • Inferior inputs such as buildings, furniture and supplies; this has in most part to do with the system of corruption in the country.
    • Excessive political pressure and intervention, micromanaging of the boards and higher officials and disrespect of the officials to their own constitution and Acts. As an example there is a Higher education Act which is unfortunate that no official wants to remember its existence in decision making and in their board meeting the common approach is “let’s go through it this way”. No one cares about mandates, principles, regulations and Acts.
    • I accept that there a lot of ethical issues starting from down to individual instructors, again the discussion should how to systematically address it as an aspect of the entire system.
    • Morale of the staff is very low due to a number of policies and handling, in a meeting where I was attending Genet Zewdie, the former Minister of Education was asked about staff salary, her response was “let them go wherever they want, I can bring Indians and Philippines” bad for her she is now in India and most who attended that meeting including myself are in America as to her wish. Following her words there was an exodus of Indian and Philippines intellectuals to Ethiopian Universities with a double negative effect on the system. One is its morale effect on Ethiopian professors in that they are doing better and paid less than their expatriate counterparts. First and foremost without a bias I am a living witness based student feedbacks a fresh graduate from Jima or Bahirdar universities let alone Addis Ababa University could teach better than some of the expatriate professors – that is one apparent effect on quality. Second I happen to know two Associate professors an Indian and an Ethiopian by all measures the Ethiopian performs better job but when it comes to compensation the Indian is paid equivalent USD$1500.0 (i.e.1500×8=Birr 12000) and the time I left the system in 2005 an Ethiopian Associate professor was paid Birr 2700 a month more than four times less. That is how things in today’s Ethiopia work the better you work the less you are paid.
    • Yes the ethnic groupings of students are very frustrating as compared to the time when you and I were in that university. The students you meet in the University system now were toddlers in 1991 or are born after EPRDF took power; imagine what they have been fed all their life, for sure not love or understanding for other cultures and ethnic groups, but hatred and division. This is in fact a bigger issue that surpasses the issue of higher education. Institutional racism has been a commonplace in the country and not to blame the universities alone it is a widespread phenomenon and calls for wider perspectives.

    2. Some of the solutions?

    • Three factors may be considered to indicate & measure the quality of education in general: Input-process- & output.
    • Creating a conducive political environment may improve the process of education in Ethiopia. This is closely linked to democratization and respect for individual rights. So that independent and innovative thinking could flourish.
    • Work to improve the quality of material inputs including construction projects and the purchasing system starting from the Ministry level.
    • Since the high schools and lower level of schools are major suppliers of the university system by sending students their quality of education has also a significant bearing on the quality of our graduates from the Universities and needs due concern and improvement again not through political baptism.
    • Introduce a more meritocracy system so that competent staff members would have the confidence and aspiration to go up in the ladder.
    • Developing dynamic funding mechanisms and encourage both basic and applied scientific researches so that universities could become centers of innovations and free thought.

    I am happy to read your comments

    Helina

  19. mike
    | #19

    The teaching and learning culture of the university doesn’t encourage independent and critical thinking. Students are encouraged to focus on handouts and class room lectures. Now a days, due to poorly educated lecturers the whole thing is down the hill.
    Reading reference books and journals is not common. Actually, most of the books in the university are outdated and to get this outdated books one would have to que up. In 21C universities in developed countries got online access and there is no need of going to libraries and que up. As long as there is internet access, life is easy-log on and read whatever you like. Some of the books are borrowed by instructors and God knows when they are returned back. In one instance I tried to borrow a book and waited for over six month as it was borrowed by one of the instructors.
    The design of curriculums is so sad. In some cases newly graduated students were involved in designing curriculums. You know guys, how many courses I did take to get undergraduate degree? 43 courses. Of which some of them are completely irelevant and some of them are repetition. A business student should take Philosophy and logic courses. Some times two courses were almost similar. In another cases the order of the courses are messed up. We may say a management student should have a reasonable knowledge of accounting and economics. But in AAU, the curriculum includes advanced level of economics and computer courses for Accounting students.
    One more point. Organizing courses, determining student assessment methods (Such as mid-term and final exams and their type, course works, term papers, etc.), delivering class room lectures, preparing exams and marking students are in the hands of insturctors. These have created complete inconsistancy in assessing students from year to year and put unlimited power in the hands of instructors.
    AAU doesn’t have uniform composition of mid-term and final exams, and course works, which includes weight of each, type of questions, no of questions…… For the same course students of this year may take final exam only with 100% weight where as previous year students may have taken mid and final exams, with weight of 30% and 70% respectively. In some cases this year students are required to submit a term paper where as next year ones not.Some times one instructor assumes the role of preparing exams and students tought by this insturctor have distinctive advantage.I don’t think there is a body which ckeck the consistancy and uniformity of exams from year to year.
    Marking of students is in the hands of instructors and this gives them unlimited power in deciding which student should get what. In the era of very young instructors, they use this power to ask and do what ever they want.

  20. Yiheyis Aemro
    | #20

    Dear Hilena, Thank you very much indeed. You wrote nearly three pages of A4 size paper, it could be another article.It shows that your are impressed in the issue of this poor university. I read it two times before I began writing this comment on your comment, I am always free to do what I feel is necessary to do as long as I am not illegally or unfairly against the interest of anybody.
    I appreciate your gut to reading my long scribble that may fit to emotional people who best know AAU. I admit your constructive comments on what I should and/or shouldn’t write here, as an Ethiopian grown up in a culture which is a little bit shy of openness. Otherwise, what I have mentioned in my writing are absolutely true, and had I not been ‘generous’ not to expose other shameful misdeeds of instructors and the management, I tell you verily, I would have written many more alarming episodes, if need be with empirical citations of names, though I would never dare,too. ‘min alefash(alefah) hagerachin yegud meflekia slehonech bezih atdeneki(k). yecondom neger min yasdenkal, lemsale? kezia yebase sint gud eyyallle? sintoch ehtochachin … yikir.’ But it is better to learn from our own mistakes. Mistakes are universities if we are capable of learning from them. What I said in my article is a minute percentage of what should be said. ‘Begna yibka, tiwuld yidan.’

  21. Helina
    | #21

    Dear Yiheyis,

    Thank you for responding to my commentary. I understand that it was very long for a comment but I am sorry I spent half of my life so far in the Ethiopian higher Education, learning or teaching, I am sorry if it were too long to bore you.

    My intention was to make constructive discussions around the root causes and solutions instead of dwelling on the symptoms.

    I believe that it is not now that the Ethiopian Higher Education system started going down. Your time may be better than mine and my time is by far better than the present. Although difficult to tell where is the bottom? Even in the time of the emperor the output of our system was not appreciated for creating indigenous solutions for local problems. I remember reading a book that was written some forty years back by an Irish travel writer, Dervela Murphy, “In Ethiopia with a Mule”; she commented that in Ethiopia to be educated is changing from drinking homemade beer (tella, by the way she liked and used to drink it) to drinking bottled beer and changing from wearing Gabi to modern Suites. Professor Mesfin Woldemariam’s observation in his book Ethiopia from where to where shows us the negative benefits accrued from modern education in Ethiopia. All the dictators and killers including the current ones were one time students but instead of solutions we all are problems to that country. I will never forget a speech at one time by one Engineering professor of AAU, that his father ridiculed him and his PHD in engineering that he couldn’t even produce a single needle with so much degree in Engineering. You see, our poor communities paid for our education but we don’t bring solutions to their basic needs. We are not taught to solve the problems of the farmers our knowledge is abstract. That is the system we went thru .

    One last point, sorry. Once I met students of Arbaminch University in a café in Arbaminch. They were complaining on everything about the university system and somewhat it was easy for me to join their conversation. They talked about the food, the teachers, lack of research fund the heat and everything else. I was curious to ask them why they need money for their research they told me that they are denied money to go to Addis and look for research topics for their senior papers. My question was why don’t you do on research topics like on Mango, the parks, the crocodile, farms the fish and so on? Their reply was we cannot get literature on those issues. I hope you understand my point.

    In general our education system has been going down the road for the last five centuries and now we all the so called “educated” are responsible for the downfall of the country and we need to look inward, focused on the sources of the problems and their solutions.

    Helina

  22. አፍሪካን እናስብ
    | #22

    “……. የፖለቲካ ታላቁ አርማ እንድገባኝ ከሆነ አፍሪካ ውስጥ “ዳቦ” ነው::ለዳቦ ማደርን የመሰለ ትልቅ ኩራት የለም::
    አፍሪካ ውስጥ ያ ዕድላችን ነው, ምንም ማድረግ አንችልም ! Ethics የሚባል ነገር የትምህርት ዕቅዳችን ውስጥ ጨርሶ አለመኖሩ, cIVIC Education ለስሙ ይጠራ እንጂ ጥቅሙን አለማወቃችን ተማርን ብለን የያዝነውን ዲግሪ, ዋጋ ቢስ ጀብደኛ ጉረኞች ለመሆን በቃን.. የትምህርት ወረቀት እንዴት ሞኝ እንዳስመሰለን ዝነኞቹ ረሃብተኞቻችን ምስክሮች ናቸው::የግል ፍልስፍና የሌለን የጥፋት ሊቆች በመሆናችንና,በዕምነትና በዘር አንድ ሺህ ቦታ የተበጣጠስን ስለሆንን የየራሳችንን የብሄር ጥቅም ለማስጠበቅ ስለምንሯሯጥ…..ትልቁን ተግባር እንረሳዋለን ማለት ነው ::
    ያ ትልቅ ተግባር የሃገርን ምጣኔ ሃብት በትክክል ተግባር ላይ አለማዋል ወይም በተለያዩ ሁኔታዎች አጉል በሆነ መንገድ አካባቢን መበከልን የመሳሰሉት ናቸው::
    ብዙ ሰው በ colonialism መጤነት ምክንያት አፍሪካ ለድህነት በቃች ይላል:: እንደሚመስለኝ ቅኝ አገዛዝ አፍሪካን ጠቀማት ነው የምለው…..የጎዳን ገና ዳይፐር ደረጃ ላይ እያለን አገሪቱን አስርክበውን መልቀቃቸው!

  23. GIRMA
    | #23

    ሽፍታው አቡጊዳ! በጣም ባለጌ ስለሆናችሁ ከናንተ ጋር ጊዜ ማጥፋትም አያስፈልግም::

  24. eyetestewale
    | #24

    Btsay Girma, gizehn keabugida gar atfa blo manew hodhn yeregeteh? enewaltana aigaform eyalulh ke’hadgi’gar ezih min t’seraleh wondimalem? yeshiftawn’m yebalegewun’m medrek tewuna wede higawiwochu yemengist afekelatewochina wede chewawochu hid Ayte Goitay Girmai.

  25. Yiheyis A.
    | #25

    Oh, no dear Hilena, # 21, your comment is very interesting. I didn’t mean that your comment was long and boring. I intended to mean that you are touched by the facts about our university, and I read it twice because, though impliedly, your comment was not a simple comment as such, rather, it could be an article by itself had it been sent to bloggers. Therefore, to me, your comment was neither boring nor irrelevant to the issue I tried to mention in my article.
    I am also very happy if we can discuss this issue or anything else about our nation through our email or any possible means, like yahoogroup. I liked your zeal and meticulous approach about your country’s stuff, as you too, understandably,did mine.

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