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Ethiopia: Fresh Students’ Challenges As Universities Expand

In Ethiopia elementary and secondary educational institutions welcome their students who return after two months of break on September. The end of September and the beginning of October is also the season when most of Ethiopian higher educational institutions commence their academic calendar and students leave their homes to their respective campuses. This happens immediately following Ethiopian New Year celebration. All the institutions start their calendar year with new vision and aspirations. Students also plan to attend their classes attentively and achieve good grades than the previous years.

It is a special moment for fresh students. Especially those who join universities leave their sweet homes and their families for the first time and prepare to face new experiences. Therefore, they might miss their families and friends. They might also face difficulties to manage their lives and to familiarize themselves with the new atmosphere.

When students join universities, first and for most they become curious to know how life looks like in the new environment. Because of their enthusiasm to know everything, most tend to discover and explore new things. In elementary and secondary schools, students lead their lives with the support of parents and teachers. But campus life requires their full efforts and responsibilities to become successful because they are on their own. Here, the most important thing is time and financial management. That is what really matters.

The most challenging reality for these teenagers is peer pressure. Sometimes they might agree to do something they don’t like so as to get the acceptance of others. Due to this, they might fail to achieve what they come about for, their main goal, and their education. And the situation is too difficult particularly for fresh students. Hence, they have to be informed to be strict in managing their time efficiently for study and entertainment. They also have to be wise in managing the money their families send properly.

On the other hand, ability to accustom oneself quickly with the new environment also matters for to achieve success academically and socially. Mostly, some senior students would use this opportunity to exploit, deceive and make fun out of the new comers. One might take such situations as funny. But for some, who come from remote areas, this might cause psychological trauma and hence academic failure.

Therefore, the students need to keep themselves away from such offensive students. They also need to receive psychological guidance from their universities if they face such difficulties. It is also advisable to share their problems with their friends. In the other way, participating in various ‘get-together’ parties would enable them to observe the surrounding atmosphere and introduce themselves with their classmates. Such occasions would create familiarity with each other to lead a healthy and successful campus life.

University enrollment in Ethiopia in the last ten years has shown remarkable growth. In 2008 E.C, significant number of students were admitted for various undergraduate programs. Some 778,766 students have been enrolled in universities across the country. In 2008 E.C. the total undergraduate enrollment in regular, evening, summer and distance programs was 778,766, of which 265,851 are females. The majority, 85 percent of these students are enrolled in government institutions, whereas private institutions intake the remaining15 percent.

This year, 137,137 new entrant students got admission to join public universities, the information from National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency (NEAE) indicated. Out of the total number, 94,195 students are male and the remaining 42,941 are female. The new entrant students would follow their courses in 18 fields of study within 54 public universities in regular programs.

According to NEAE admission point, among the students who took national exam in regular basis, male and female natural science students who scored 354 and 340 respectively are eligible to join universities. Similarly, 330 and 320 is the entry point to those male and female social science exam takers respectively. In other way, those male and female students who scored 360 and 355 point and took the exams privately in both natural and social science courses are also eligible to join universities. On the other hand, students who are from emerging and pastoralist states and the handicapped are beneficiaries of affirmative action and the entrance point is lowered for them.

Beside the increasing number of new entrants, the number of universities is also increasing through time and this helps the country to accommodate the increasing number of intake ratio. This year, the new 11 universities would enroll a total of 16,500 students. Each university would have an enrolling capacity of 7,500 students when become fully operational, Ministry of Education Eleven Universities Construction Project Office Finance and Human Resource Administration Deputy General Director Takele Gebrekidan notes.

The expansion of the universities is believed to improve access to education in remote areas. On the other hand, the construction of the universities is simultaneously creating jobs for the surrounding community in long and short term basis. Currently, 20,000 jobs have been created up on the ongoing construction of the eleven universities, Takele says.

The growing numbers of universities have continue to play a core role in supplying trained manpower to the key other sectors. Nearly, 150,000 students have graduated from the 33 universities and this number would increase considerably following the opening of the new universities.

As to him the universities would help the nearby society with problem solving researches and community based services. The new universities that are being constructed at a cost of 2.4 billion birr include Raya, Mekdela Amba, Debark, Enjibara, Werabe, Bonga, Jinka, Selale, Dembi Dolo, Oda Bultum and Kebri Dehar. Lately, Borena University has been added to the list and its construction would embark on this year expected to be functional in 2011 EC.

To sum up, the access to higher education has been improving through time. But quality of education is still under question. Solving this problem is about solving the country’s various problems through providing skilled manpower. And this effort begins from the entry to the graduation day. Welcoming students with comfortable atmosphere and supporting them to choose their preferred fields of study is vital to have successful students who would develop the country with their respective professions. Furthermore, the continual follow up on the theoretical and practical courses would help the students to be graduated from the universities equipped with the needed knowledge and skills that their motherland need utmost.

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