The ethiopian experience a higher education system in context
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The Ethiopian experience: a higher education system in context Prof Kate Ashcroft What I will cover The context What sort of place is Ethiopia? What education (especially HE) is offered? The 13 new Higher Education Institution Study:

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What i will cover l.jpg
What I will cover context

  • The context

    • What sort of place is Ethiopia?

    • What education (especially HE) is offered?

  • The 13 new Higher Education Institution Study:

    • Curriculum and pedagogic issues – what does the country need?

    • Organizational and qualifications structures – what is realistic and desirable?

    • Resourcing issues – what can the country afford?

What sort of place is ethiopia l.jpg
What sort of place is Ethiopia context

  • Ethiopia is a happy country

  • Ethiopians are a strikingly beautiful people

  • People are friendly and unthreatening and someone is always willing to go out of their way to help you

  • People are generally honest and violent crime is rare

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The Ethiopians are a cultured people context

  • The Ethiopian monarchy was 3000 years old

  • The Royal family is believed to be descended from the Queen of Sheba and Solomon

  • Ethiopia was never colonized

  • It still uses the Gregorian Calendar, so is about to celebrate the millennium

  • Ethiopia has its own way of telling the time

  • The calendar has 13 months

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Ethiopian Christianity is a unique religion context

  • The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest in the world: it was established in 300 AD

  • It has books in its bible such as the Book of Enoch

  • It is a schism of a schism of a schism

  • Its practices have evolved from ancient Judaism

  • Ethiopia’s Jewish community is one of the oldest in the world. Most emigrated en mass to Israel in the 1970s

  • Ethiopia’s religions live in harmony with each other

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Every day living is enjoyable for most people context

  • The food is good and varied in most places

  • There are little shops and businesses everywhere

  • There are comfortable, middle class homes


  • There are many homeless and beggars too – poverty is real

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Ethiopia has varied wildlife and a wonderful climate context

  • A beautiful country, endlessly interesting

  • More species of bird than any African country except South Africa

  • A wide variety of wildlife in remote areas

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Ethiopia’s countryside is stunningly beautiful context

  • Varied: mountains mostly, but green plains, deserts and the Rift Valley

  • The climate is pleasant in most of the country for most of the year with temperatures averaging around 70 degrees

  • Elsewhere, climates vary from a little chilly to steamy hot

  • Plenty of water in most places, but not harvested

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But, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries: Why? context

  • Terms of trade and treaties made in the past

  • Lack of colonization and outside influences

  • Authoritarian history

  • Border disputes

  • Role of the church

  • Harmful traditional practices and beliefs

  • A very conservative and traditional society, with strong authoritarian tendencies

  • A very bureaucratic country

  • High birth rate

  • Land tenure

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Some statistics context

  • The average age at death is 46

  • HIV AIDS rate 7.3% (Millennium Aids Campaign Ethiopia prepared FHAPCO). Teachers are one of two high risk groups for HIV/AIDs: supply less than numbers dying.

  • Most primary teachers have only one year of training after grade 10: 17 year olds teach class of over 100.

  • Worst in the world for road traffic accidents

  • Female genital mutilation and abduction are illegal, but common

  • Forced early marriage – the average age of full marriage (sexual) is 12 and a half and 11 is common

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Some more statistics context

  • The 3rd poorest country in the world

  • 85% of the population live in the countryside

  • Most have no access to sanitation or running water, even in the towns

  • The average person lives on considerably less than 50p a day

  • Around 50% of the population is Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% animist

  • There are 86 languages spoken in Ethiopia

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BUT there are reasons to be cheerful context

  • Ethiopia as a country is determined to modernise (and if anything a little too ambitious)

  • ICT is a priority: The plan is to have 12,000 regional hubs

  • The big push is quality of teaching and numbers in education at all levels, starting with primary

  • There are thriving towns and modern and traditional businesses

  • There is little religious tension

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More reasons to be cheerful context

  • More primary education for girls means later marriage and fewer children

  • Power has been devolved from the centre to local authorities

  • There have been (imperfect) general elections

  • The war with Eritrea has not been active for 8 years

  • Infrastructure development (roads, water and ICT especially) is proceeding fast

  • Very little corruption

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Ethiopia using education to develop context

Education from 1996/7 to 2004/5:

  • 54.7% more primary schools, from 10,394 to 16,563

  • 85% of the new schools are in rural areas.

  • Primary Enrolment Rate grew from 34.7%, to in 79.8% (71.5% for girls and 88% for boys).

  • 53.5% more secondary schools from 369 to 690 in

  • Enrolment Rate grew from 8.4% to 27%: girls from 7% to 19.6%.

  • Public technical/vocational training colleges grew from 17 before 1994 to 199

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My role context

  • Volunteer for two and a half years, paid on a local salary

  • Higher education management advisor to the Minister of Education and Vice Minister for HE

  • Acting Director of the Higher Education Strategy Centre (a mixture of HEFCE and HEPI)

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What I did context

  • Chaired a National Committee of Enquiry into Governance, Leadership and Management in HE

  • Developed a formula to distribute a block grant to universities

  • Studied what should be the partnership between the public and private sector HEIs

  • Researched what the 13 new HEIs to be opened in the country should do

    I will some aspects of cover the 13 new HEIs Study

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Higher Education is expanding very rapidly context

  • From 1996/7 to 2004/5 HE grew from one university to 9.

  • Student numbers grew from 35,000 to 187,500 in 2004/5

  • 13 new HEIs are to be opened in the next couple of years

  • Numbers in existing HEIs are to double by 2009

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The context for Higher Education is changing very rapidly context

New HE Proclamation:

  • More autonomy

  • More independent Boards

  • Move from line budgets to block grant

  • Student and staff rights

  • A quality assurance agency

  • Pedagogic support units

  • The Higher Education Strategy Centre

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What the 13 new HEI study looked at context

  • Curriculum and pedagogic issues – what does the country need?

  • Organizational and qualifications structures – what is realistic and desirable?

  • Resourcing issues – what can the country afford?

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Methodology context

  • An extensive literature review

  • Analysis of various government policies and strategies

  • 50 interviews with a range of representatives of ministries, donor organizations, NGOs and employers

  • Regional workshops with representatives from Education, Health, Capacity Building, and Finance and Economic Development Bureaus, representatives of local business or industry, heads of TVET colleges, heads of a secondary school and representatives from HEIs in each region

  • Studies of relevance to the research by contracted researchers each focused on a particular region or sub regions

  • Visits by research assistants to four regions

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Is the Ethiopian HE a system? context

If a higher education system is defined as:

  • a set of interrelated institutions

  • each with its own function within the system,

  • each with its own goals,

  • each of which makes a particular contribution to the functioning of the country

    Ethiopia has a collection of institutions rather

    than a system.

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Recommendations: New forms of HEI context

Not all the new HEIs can or should be university


  • Universities (Adama)

  • University colleges (Dire Dawa and Dilla) Affiliated higher education colleges (the rest)

    - with a close relationship with an existing university

    - with close regional ties

    - offering 12 + 1 and 12 + 2 only

  • Need for a more developed qualifications framework

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PhD (MSc + 3) context

MA/MSc+1 absent

MA/MSc (BA/BSc + 2)

BA/BSc +1 absent


12+1 & 12+2


Grade 12

The Present Qualification Pyramid in Ethiopia

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Recommendations: A New Qualifications Framework context

  • 12 + 1: Higher Education Certificate

  • 12+2: Associate Degree

  • 12+ 3: Bachelor’s Degree

  • Bachelors +1: Post Graduate Certificate

  • Bachelor’s +2: MA/MBA/MSc

  • Bachelor’s +3: MPhil

  • PhD

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Recommendations: Pedagogic issues context

All courses should include:

  • Entrepreneurialism

  • Work focus and problem solving

  • HIV/AIDS issues

  • Inclusivity issues


  • Less curriculum

  • New methods of staff development

  • Focus on what Ethiopia needs

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Recommendations: New sources of funding context

  • Higher rates of graduate tax

  • Charges for services such as food and lodging (perhaps supported by food vouchers for the poorest)

  • Local recruitment (to save on lodging provision)

  • Admitting some fee-paying students over and above those allocated by Government.

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Recommendations: Staffing context

  • Focusing mainly on one and two year higher education qualifications and a limited number of programs

  • Paying postgraduate degree holders as ‘master instructors’ to design the programs, give the lead lectures, do lesson plans for seminars; and second mark a proportion of assignments

  • Employing graduate assistants to undertake seminars and first marking of assignments

  • (The existing universities) expanding post graduate training for instructors rapidly and making it relevant for Ethiopia’s new HEIs

  • Less PG study abroad

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Recommendations: ICT context

  • ICT in distance learning: where there is demand, in mixed media mode; in cooperation with each other and international HEIs

  • In administration: systems for procurement and supplies; asset monitoring; transport; estates management; finance, registry; human resource management; libraries; committee records etc

  • All new HEIs have broadband quality ICT in all classrooms; instructor offices; administrative offices; classrooms and libraries and the hardware to make these functional.