Education and the Tyranny of Quantity in Ethiopia

“There are 12 colleges in Gambella and none of them have accreditation.” ~Ethiopian Business Review~

Ethiopia in the 21st century still remains educationally disadvantaged.  There are more than 35 public and 238 private higher education institutions (HEI) in Ethiopia and most lack proper accreditation of the name they are bestowed upon.  Literacy rate in Ethiopia is 51.8 % (59.24% of males and 44.42% of females).  The literacy rate gap between the genders is considerably high, which calls for remedial programs that the government seems to be working on, but not backed by strong policies, such programs leave a lot to be desired.

In the neighboring Kenya, literacy rate is 82% and in South Africa 95%.  Despite Ethiopia’s booming economy, the country’s education system remains underdeveloped and plagued by low participation rates and quality problems—a situation much aggravated by inefficient resource allocation and lack of understanding on the correlation between economic development and quality education.  Lack of qualified teachers, lack of strict control on who is joining the university—there are cases 10th grade dropouts being admitted to colleges— university lecturers compromising the principles and code of conduct of higher education by chasing the money working with the private institutions (which is illegal to do), the government racing to building constructions but not young minds.  The focus has been solely on brick and mortar without building the proper infrastructure to absorb college graduates—150,000 graduates yearly, only 10,000 are gainfully employed.  The 1,567 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), designed as remedial seem to be off mark—out of tune with the need of the country.

The tyranny of quantity and focus on the high profit margin from private HEIs compounded by the lack of evaluation and monitoring system halt Ethiopia’s prosperity to the ground.  Many FDI fleeing after a few years of trying their luck on the perceived economic dynamism of the country mainly for lack of skilled labor and literate populous.

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