“Government Wants to Shift the Blame of Failure in Education to Teachers,”
Addis Tribune- 07/27/02
President of the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA), Dr. Taye Wolde-Semayat said that government is trying to shift the blame of failure in the Ethiopian education system to teachers who did not take part in formulating the education policy. Dr. Taye described the Ethiopian education policy as racist, lacking universality and philosophically wrong.
“The policy is philosophically wrong because it is engineered to implement the Woyane’s policy and they have a political agenda. It is to divide and rule the whole situation. We have been asked that this Association be divided based on ethnicity…the government is asking the Ethiopian teachers to be organized based on ethnicity”, Dr. Taye said in an interview with the Addis Tribune. “Our Association condemns the education policy,” he said.
Dr. Taye was released from jail last May after six years of imprisonment. Human rights organizations said he was a prisoner of conscience.
Speaking about the recent marathon of meetings organized by the government for teachers all across the country, Dr. Taye said the entire process of arrangement and the conduct of the meetings are undemocratic.
“The whole agenda of this meeting, when you look at the format, is undemocratic. To discuss the democratic process in the country, the meeting should be arranged in a democratic manner. That shows the undemocratic nature of the government…every discussion being conducted in different parts of the country is run by big cadres.” Dr. Taye said the Ethiopian Teachers Association condemned the meeting, which he said was conducted without the consent of teachers and the Association.
He said in some of the meetings, the teachers refused government officials to chair the meetings. “Woizero Genet [the minister of education] had a hard time in Jimma because she is the one who notoriously run the whole system and the abuses come through her ministry. They [the teachers] told her that she is not in a position to run the meeting,” Dr. Taye said.
He also said that the meeting is being conducted in the wrong timing, as the teachers were supposed to be on vacation doing their private things and conduct their association’s meetings. “Looking at it from a political scientist point of view, the government is not concerned about the education policy …it is only to keep the teachers busy with political rhetorics…this doesn’t work in the education system.”
For Dr. Taye, the government has what he called “a special agenda” and is not seriously concerned about the education issue.
According to him, the teachers are discussing Article 39 of the constitution, which he said has nothing to do with the education policy. “It is now three weeks and the meetings are not in the main agenda, which is the education policy. That is why I say the government is having a special agenda.”
The Association's president said harassments on teachers have continued and government considers the Ethiopian Teachers Association as a political organization and also as an enemy. “Our bank account was frozen and this is against the right to association and the violation of property rights”
Arrests on teachers have doubled over the years. Teachers who took part at a meeting organized by the Association two months ago are being harassed and some of them thrown out from their jobs, according to Dr. Taye.
“Teachers are not allowed to have a meeting in their schools. The freedom of academic rights in the school system is in a serious problem. In the University, the freedom of association and academic rights is not there. Education is going down the tube. Teachers are becoming politicized when they ask their rights. They [the government] will start ethnic based defamation. If you are an Oromo, you will be declared an OLF. This politicization of the whole issue of your rights is becoming very dangerous,” he stressed.
Dr. Taye said teachers in the different parts of Oromia, Harar and in the south are in jail.