Education Roadblocks




The only African nation never to be conquered by a western power is trying to conquer its issues with education. The school system of Ethiopia is growing at levels that were unimaginable 30 years ago.

About three decades ago, the entire country had only two universities; now there are over 30. Also the Ethiopian government has made education a right not a privilege for its entire population. This includes female students and some of the poorest of the poor being able to attend school, all the way from the Kindergarten level well into college.

Of course, funding is still an enormous issue. In the universities, professors are paid very little, and some of the best professionals in certain fields are picked up by private firms and corporations, thus harming the pool of qualified teachers.

Also, the Ethiopian government, in its push to become competitive in the global market, has regulated students towards certain degrees. In Ethiopia, 70pc of college students have to study in fields such as science, maths and engineering. The rest are an assortment of other subjects, leaving the majority of other fields underrepresented.

One of the largest issues in the Ethiopian education system is the treatment and discrimination of female students. With the number of female students rising, there are many cultural obstacles standing in their way.

Older male students, as well as some professors, coerce female students into sexual practices and discriminate in general. These actions make it impossible for female students to receive a proper education and has caused many of them to drop out early (almost 50pc).

Though the poor have the right to an education, it is not always achievable. Being in rural farming communities disallows some students to attend school because of the extra burden it would place on their families.

When choices are being made, a male child is much more likely to be sent to school for an education than a female who would then help with the farm work. This practice continues to uphold a gender gap in Ethiopia, even as the number of women in higher education grows. Also, the literacy rate of female students is much lower than that of male students.

Though the Ethiopian government supports universal education, outside funding is needed from many different sources just to reach its current level. The United States, through the USAID contracts with numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs), seeks to help the education system of Ethiopia. It has a close to one billion dollar budget for its Ethiopian mission.

About 20pc of this goes directly to NGO’s focusing on education. Though, with the American economy not being very strong, aid to foreign countries all over continues to suffer, thus harming the ability NGO’s have in solving education and gender inequality issues within the educational field. Other countries and governmental organisations, like China, the African Union, Germany and other EU member countries, continue to aid the Ethiopian education system as well.

In order for Ethiopia to continue its successful education growth, two large areas must be addressed: the treatment of female students and access to education to the people living in absolute poverty. When female students are not safe in their schools around male students and professors, this creates a reverse atmosphere of education excellence.

The safety of women should be a top priority, considering the need for more women and people as a whole in the work place. With a dropout rate of over 50pc, women are being neglected at large rates.

Access to education for the poorest of the poor should be pushed even more than now. With Ethiopia promoting its education system as a right and not a privilege, achieving this right is fundamental to any sort of upwards mobility. Bringing education to rural farmers all over the nation will help lead Ethiopia into a stronger future.

Ethiopia is evolving regardless of all the obstacles that stand in its way. Though there are internal cultural issues that must be solved before progression can be made, the Ethiopian people will continue to press forwards to make their education system better in the near future.

The Ethiopian gross domestic product (GDP) continues to grow at around eight percent a year, with Africa as a whole growing an average of six percent annually. This growth ensures more investment into education will happen, thus pushing Ethiopia forwards as a developing nation.

 



By Lee Nave
Lee Nave is a graduate student at Seton Hall University, United States.

Published on October 05, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 753]


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