June
25th 2008
Account of Ethiopia’s Segregationist Education Gives Needed Perspective

Posted under Independence Institute & International

This post is a little different than many of the usual ones here, but sometimes it’s good to expand our horizons. My parents say that’s an important part of a good education.

Well, anyway, a couple months ago, the Education Policy Center (the whole Independence Institute really) made a new friend in Ethiopian journalist Habtamu Dugo, who fled his homeland to avoid persecution from the government. Here’s a 5-minute video in which Habtamu tells his own story:

Now living in the United States, Habtamu recently wrote about the problems with his nation’s education system, particularly how the government’s repressive segregationist policy is so harmful to the ethnic groups not represented by those in power. It’s a long article, so you should really read the whole thing. But here’s a key passage:

The unwritten policy, however, is that students in Tigray region and Addis Ababa (Finfinnee) region as opposed to other regions study all subjects in English, starting at their seventh grade. This gives Tigray and Addis Ababa students better performance because they have two years advantage over students from other regions as they study all subjects in the English language. In high schools and universities the medium of instruction is English in Ethiopia. Students from the 7 other regional states also want to start their education in English as early as grade 7, but the government has systematically denied them this opportunity.

At their tenth grade, students from other regions and Tigray and Addis Ababa sit for the same national examination that is set in English in order to pass to preparatory and vocational streams. This is where the policy of segregations inflicts failures upon thousands of poorly prepared children, both in terms of their verbal and mathematical skills.

A solid background in English is critical in secondary and university education as textbooks are generally available only in English, which is the official medium of instruction. That is the reason students who are deficient in English skills will not be able to keep up. Besides, the major advantage of speaking English is to use it as a neutral lingua franca to do business and to create wealth across state lines and internationally. However, from the view point of the extremist dictatorship economic growth is not as much a benefit as keeping the population from communicating with one another for political reasons. Also, only the ruling tribes will be able to communicate effectively on a global level.

We have a lot to fight for in this country in terms of educational freedom. But reading Habtamu’s account of education in Ethiopia – Africa’s 2nd most populous nation, with 77 million people – puts our situation into better perspective.

Peace and best wishes to the Oromo and other repressed peoples of Ethiopia, for whom unequal access to English language education is but one part of the abusive treatment they face at the hands of their own government.

2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Account of Ethiopia’s Segregationist Education Gives Needed Perspective”

  1. Berhane G. on 21 Apr 2009 at 3:36 am #

    I don`t know how to start commenting what habtamu said. But at least i will try to write what is going on ethiopia specialy in the education sector with what has been saiid in the above by habtamu. Please a big lie doesn`t save ethiopia fro poverity. Currently I am in ethiopia .I am neither of Tigre nor of addis ababaian. But i have got a chance to see all the regions of Ethiopia and further more iam an English teacher. what has been said by habtamu-the litrate of american- is realy rediclous because things are not moving in what he wrote. Except the Addis ababa , SNNPRS and Gambella regions , all other regions start english as medium of insrtuction since 1992 E.C.- I know very well and I am witnsing my self by putting in the natural setting of Ethiopia , not America.PLEASE MY BROTHERRS AND SISTERS-WHERE EVER YOU LIVE-LET`S BE GENIUN -IF YOU WANT HABTAMU YOU CAN WRITE TO MY EMAIL berhane2008@ymail.com FOR FURTHER COMMUNCATION ABOUT ETHIOPIA BECOUSE YOU SEEMS AS IF YOU LACK INFORMATION ABOUT ETHIOPIA. THANK YOU

  2. Habtamu on 22 Apr 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Hello Berhane! Thank you very much for your belated comment on my article of June 2008 in April 2009. Nearly a year–what a delayed comment! I’ve been there and I understand that you don’t have Internet access to reply timely. And I also know that you must have paid at least $ 2 to write your comment or you were freerly sponsored by the government to write that.

    You start off your article, saying you did not know how to comment. Then, if you did not know, you should not have commented. I know it is shocking for you that I revealed the apartheid nature of education policy in ethiopia and for that matter all the plicies in all sectors. You are already in denial and I’m not sure how much you will be able to learn from my follow-up comment. I have nothing newer or ameded to say than what I said in my article. I invite you to reread it again to grasp the concepts.

    Schools in Oromia (I mean primary to university levels) are battlegrounds between government soldiers and students. And except for the studnets in the ruling regions others are terrorized and traumatized every day there. They are not learning. No matter what you say to deny this, but this is a fact of everyday that is documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Inernational, State Department and even the some online media. Take a recent case of Gedo High School of Oromia, where students were killed and the government ordered to close down the whole school after the killings and imprisonments. Does this happen in Tirgray or Amhara States (ruling regions)? Obviously not, if you do not call this segregationist then what will you call it?

    You claim to be an English teacher, you are teaching students incuracies. Look at your spellings and grammar and even your shallow substance above!!

    Anways- we can discuss in private if would like to coninue this.
    All the best to you!

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