What Bad Teachers Have Done

A poor education system remains a stubborn fact in Ethiopia. Universities and colleges are producing inefficient graduates who are hard-pressed to practice what they have been thought. The gap between demand for skilled professionals and supply has widened. And this has aggravated poverty.

History has it that modern education was introduced in Ethiopia nearly a century ago. Nevertheless, education has not done, as was expected of it to improve innovativeness. While enrolments have risen, quality has remained on the fringes. Development and poverty reduction though depends a great deal on the knowledge and skills that graduates acquire.

The main reason for poor quality of education is the lack of quality teachers. It is often the fact that they have neither the training nor the passion to pass on knowledge. Although teachers training institutions have been upgraded and incentives introduced, it has not brought substantial improvement.

There is no efficient system in place that could monitor teacher’s professional effectiveness or ethical conduct. One can stay on as a teacher despite visible incompetence.

An urbanite who has been able to attend private school, I never understood why my parents had to pay as much as they did for schooling. That was until I joined Addis Ababa University, the highest and most prestigious institution in the country. We had a handful of skilled and passionate instructors while most were uncaring instructors that perceived us as nothing less than the enemy.

Most saw teaching as an imposed obligation they have to carry out, missing classes and verbally harassing students. Even at higher learning institutions, teaching is not seen as a career with a key to shape a generation.

It is true that quality education is unfortunately influenced by family’s incomes. Students from low-income parents often enter into the public education system already far behind their peers who come from affluent parents. But there is no question that academic failure has a lot more to do with teachers than student’s background. Most of the academic gaps can be filled by professional teachers even when students are disadvantaged outside of school conditions.

It is the government’s responsibility to provide relevant education to society’s youth whose capacity to afford it is limited. Quality education has a vital role in creating a mutual national understanding of the country’s problem and work together to bring solutions.

The education policy which pledges for the quality of teachers aims to create a system encouraging teachers to improve their skills. At the same time, the policy targets to establish respect to the teaching profession to attract skilled individuals to the occupation. However, none of it has been witnessed practically.

Public schools in rural areas have been especially hit by this inadequacy. Since students teaching mechanism is not up to the necessary standard, graduates’ contribution to the country’s economic development lingers far below expectation. The long-standing problems associated with the Ethiopian education system is met with a continuous decline in quality. Education has never been seen as a tool for solving practical shortfalls, lacking national focus and significance.

Most of those engaged in the teaching profession are not only few in numbers, but they have inadequate skills and practically no individual initiative to teach. They are products of a defective education system. Low remunerations likewise intensify the difficulty of recruiting skilled and motivated teachers with strong ethical and professional commitments.

Ethiopia, the second populous nation in the continent, is sluggishly catching up to its African counterparts. In terms of expansion of elementary schools, many countries in Africa have managed to send 70pc of their students to primary school, which is far less than what we can say for Ethiopia, which subsists at less than a third of this. It is then detrimental to compromise on quality for those who have had the opportunity to enrol in schools.

The government’s attempt at expanding higher and lower institutions of learning will mean nothing without output. Unquestionably, education is fundamental to create a strong and sustainable economy. There is no practical method to enhance innovation and creativity than through education. From efficient public administration and private sector growth to advances in health and agricultural sectors, the importance of education is immeasurable. For Ethiopia to create a better living standard it must first invest in the potential of students.

The main objective of education should be to breed capable and skilled graduates who can play an active role in the economic, social and political development of the country. Foundational and quality skills acquired early in childhood motivates students to be creative. Research shows that learning needs to be encouraged early and often both inside and outside of the formal schooling system.

Quality teaching is essential to give students the initial literacy and proficiency on which lifelong learning depends on. A proper education system requires smart resource allocation, prioritizing and monitoring learning beyond traditional metrics such as the number of teachers trained and the number of students enrolled. A quality metrics needs to be the focus of education.


By Eden Sahle
Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied Law and International Economic Law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

Published on May 05,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 940]



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