Meles Urges University Professors "Challenge Everything, Based On Critical Research"


  Addis Ababa, August 12, 2002 (WIC)- Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said higher learning institutions should serve as the means to execute the country's development objectives by producing efficient and work oriented man-power.


 Speaking at the on going discussions between staff of higher education and senior government officials, Meles said higher learning institutions need to promote democratic values and principles based on the constitution of the land.


 According to Meles the manpower that comes out of higher learning institutions should lead the country's development policies.


 He said, universities need to produce professionals with strong work ethics and respect for democratic principles through the optimal use of the meager resources of the country.


 He urged the universities to be instruments of identifying society's problems and suggest solutions through critical researches.


 According to him, universities should enjoy full academic freedoms while undertaking research activities.


 He however urged university professors to promote purely academic ideals in their teaching assignments.


 "University professors need to have the stamina to challenge every thing based on critical research. Challenging government policies is a positive contribution and the most elementary form of exercising democracy," Meles said.


 Meles also called on higher education institutions to democratize their daily operations and to create democratic professionals that can influence the wider society.


 Participants of the conference who expressed divergent views on the role of universities in the country's development attached more importance to academic freedom and to making universities the center of academic excellence.


 According to one professor, universities which obviously have the mission to produce trained manpower should equip their students to promote causes, justice, democratic values and involve in the development affairs of their country.


 He said universities should promote the motto "to excel is to survive" in this highly competitive information age.


 Others expressed the view that by being centers of academic excellence and producing efficient professionals, equipped with work ethics, universities could play the role of promoting democracy and the rule of law.