ETHIOPIA LAUNCHES NATIONAL EDUCATION REVIEW

by Peter Burdin

Frank Odwesso

Ethiopia is launching a new education Roadmap. It’s designed to improve educational outcomes across the country and make its young graduates better prepared for the world of work.

Ethiopia already has a massive educational sector with more than fifty universities and around 700,000 students in higher education. The government spends some $1.5 billion a year on education.

Hundreds of thousands of students graduate every year. However, the Ethiopian government is concerned that too many of these graduates are not meeting the highest possible standards of quality education.

The roadmap will question whether the skills they leave university with are sufficiently relevant to meeting their country’s future economic needs.

The Ministry of Education’s Roadmap Coordinator, Tewodros Shewarget, says this is a key issue if Ethiopia is to deliver its ambition to become a lower middle-income economy by 2030.

“Though our education sector is producing professionals, it is not compatible with the national development aspirations”.

“With this road map we are trying to identify major problems and possible solutions”.

The Ethiopian Roadmap team are expected to organise a number of nationwide public forums to find out what needs to change. There are also calls for Ethiopian Diaspora members who are teaching around the world to add their experiences and voices to the debate.

The team has already produced a 101-page document which discusses the current state of primary as well as higher education.

The document highlights a recognition that Ethiopia needs a radical transformation of its education system in order to train and encourage its young students to work in the country’s industrial sector.

The Roadmap is meant to lead this transformation to meet the needs of Ethiopia’s industrialisation ambitions. For the time being Ethiopia remains a largely agrarian economy with almost 70% of its workforce employed in agriculture.

The President of the Ethiopian Teachers Association, Yohannes Benti, agrees that there are lots of deep-rooted problems in Ethiopia’s education sector. He says it begins at primary school level where Ethiopia, to its credit, has provided almost free universal education and as a result has achieved virtually a 100% enrolment level.

He says there’s a general shortfall in the recruitment, training and placement of primary school teachers which results in a lack of quality in the teaching profession.

There is already a shortage of teachers and university faculty and the Roadmap is expected to consider ways to address this. Proposals include introducing remote learning and e-learning to enable students to access quality teaching and partnering with countries like Germany and Switzerland, who already provide good vocational education in addition to the more traditional academic courses.