By Yared Gebremeden
Practitioners, stakeholders and experts said Ethiopia has done remarkable progress in improving access to education, though quality remains to be issue of concern.
Awol Ali Abdella, who has been a teacher for the past 37 years told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is doing a good job in expanding education though quality is still a quest that should be taken into account.
According to Awol education is now aided with technologies and is accessible in all vicinity across the nation. “This, apart from promoting a more diverse learning environment and improving the teaching- learning process, enables students to achieve better,” he added.
However, in addition to quality issues, there is also leadership problem that pose challenges to the sector, he reflected his views.
It is, hence, important to design mechanisms and conduct problem solving researches to overcome the above mentioned challenges of the education sector. In the same way, educational institutions should assess their respective gaps and strive to ensure quality.
Addis Ababa Education Bureau Public Relation Head Abebe Chernet said that Ethiopia has given much accent to the expansion of education across the nation.
The nation has given equal due attention to build capacity of teachers and the leadership, expansion of ICT and laboratories, provision license and other similar tasks.
In terms of accessibility, there is a minimum of one school in all sub cities, said Abebe.
According to the Head, the role of the private investors in assisting the government’s effort of expanding educational institutions and achieving its targets is also crucial. “Private sector investment in education have shown significant improvement over the past two and a half decades.” he further noted.
As to Abebe, the government in general and Addis Ababa Education Bureau in particular have been implementing various packages to securing quality and sustaining equitable and relevant education.
Ministry Senior Public Relation Expert, Habtamu Gerbi told The Ethiopian herald that there are now over 28 million students attending education in over 38,023 public and private schools starting from nursery to preparatory education.
He added in the last Ethiopian Budget year “Over 538,662 teachers actively engaged in providing pre-primary, primary and secondary education.”
Gender parity in schools is significantly rising, expected to reach one to one in few years; and emerging regions are showing considerable progress in providing accessible and equitable education for all, he pointed out.
All the practitioners and Experts believed that the use of state-of-the art technology including high speed internet, instruction through radio and TVs, the availability of well-equipped laboratories, computer labs and other facilities are expanding throughout the country and benefiting students considerably.
While talking about the efforts made to create capable and qualified professionals, Habtamu said “More than one million trainees are attending short and long term skill trainings in nearly 1000 public and private TVET institutions and colleges.”
Some 25 years back there were only two universities, with three collages. Currently, Ethiopia’s higher education sector has grown steadily. Over 36 public and more than hundred private universities are providing education for over 817,000 students in regular and extension programmes. The Expert added “11 additional universities are under construction which will increase the number of universities to over 46 in few years’ time.”
This same information of MoE shows that the enrollment capacity of higher education Institutions in the late 1990s, had been limited to 39,000. However, these days Institutions’ enrollment capacity has augmented considerably. In the year 2015/16 merely, showing an increase of 33 per cent, the total number of students enrolled at higher educational institutions has reached over 700,000.
At the same time, private higher education institutions have also been expanded in the country, reaching over 99 institutions in total in the last fiscal year, with a capacity to accommodate around 15% of the total student enrollment until recently.
Habtamu further said higher learning institutions have taken steps to improve the relevance of research and technology developments for societal and national development needs. “Previously universities were merely criticized as being shells. They were not active in helping their surrounding community as they were poorly resourced, and in some cases shoddily built. However, now a days, they are connected to the community in a manner they could contribute to the improvement of education at all levels, and solve communities’ problems.” he further elaborated.
As to the expert, higher learning institutions are following the 70/30 ratio. 70 percent of the institutions give focus to science, technology, engineering and mathematics whereas 30 percent for social streams based on the general industrial development move that it is heading through.
The two higher education institutions, the Addis Ababa and Haremaya Universities before two decades and a half ago used to give access only for limited number of students who had scored highest grades in the Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examinations (ESLCE).
According to the Expert, the introduction of higher education in Ethiopia began in the mid-1960s. However, it is only in the past fifteen years that higher education has opened to the wider population due to the priority and commitment given by the government and development partners’.
It is understood that the education sector of Ethiopia is moving towards attaining the national vision of ranking middle – income economy status by 2025 through supporting the ongoing development. Hence the expert stressed “Higher education leaders’ commitment and relentless cooperative endeavors plays irreplaceable role to achieve the set goal.
Expansion of education is by far moving ahead in Ethiopia and has become accessible to all. However, as many agreed, quality is not something achieved like that of the work done on accessibility. Thus, quality is still a question for a number of educational institutions. To alleviate this, and sustain quality education in Ethiopia, all stakeholders and concerned bodies should work jointly.
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