Higher Education: A Note About The Response Of The Ministry Of Education
By Mesfin Tadesse
WIC Sep 22, 2000
It is encouraging and interesting to read the response of the Ministry of Education on issues raised about higher education in Ethiopia. Moreover, I also find it a challenge to further strengthen my cases put forward earlier in the same fora. It is good that MoE appreciates some of the problems. Those problems might need time to be solved, and perhaps we might need to be more patient. Having said this let me put forward a short note as there seems to be a disparity on what the MoE stated, and the reality.
1.Scholarship allowance: The Ministry surprised us that all trainees whose training is approved by the National Scholarship Committee are getting half their salary as allowance. This is really outrageous. Most of the staff on training. The Ethiopian government might not be paying for it directly. Many donors have also opened scholarship schemes to develop capacity at the respective higher educations. In this regard, there are many staff who are abroad through bilateral projects (approved by MEDAC and MoE) and competitive scholarships offered by different foreign governmental and non-governmental institutions. These have been executed through their respective Embassies of Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Australia, Japan, Germany, USA, Canada, Austria, Australia, etc. in Addis Ababa. These scholarships have been supported by the respective institutions and eventually approved by the National Scholarship Committee, and I have recently heard that those staff are even signing contracts that oblige them to serve the Institute after training. I have no problem with signing the Contract (if the Ministry thinks that is the better way to keep the Staff), but the Ministry denied a small favor (obligation!) of paying the family allowance. Don't you think they don't deserve the benefit? Or are you telling us that there are no such individuals? If so, please get in touch with the Colleges and Universities through out, and check. Definitely, you will witness a disparity. At least, I am quite sure of this reality, at AAU. Then, perhaps, it might still be possible to re-correct. In fact, I am trying to be more optimistic than my experience tells me. I am of the opinion that regardless of the funding source and country - as long as the scholarship holder is committed to go back to the same institution - family allowance should be paid! I would like to know the stand of the MoE in this regard!
2 Assignment of Officials: The Ministry has tried to tell us that it doesn't take direct responsibility in this latter. The main
role went to the regional bureax and administrative personnel. How will this be justified? When someone who is unfamiliar to higher learning institutions is assigned to the highest body?
I think there should be a lot we ought to learn from such experience. The University Community should have a big say in all the matters that concerns the higher education system. Labeling some as 'novice leadership' is not just enough, it might rather strengthen their dictatorship in their respective system. The MoE should devise a mechanism that it also interacts directly with the Community. Sparing some time with the Community during your visit pays for the good of the University. 500 Million Birr investment in five years is not enough to avert all the dire situation out there! Thanks to the Engineers of the MoE, and their affiliated Contractors, most of the Constructions have become good examples of failures. Please look into the constructed buildings in Bahirdar, Alemaya, Jimma and others in one of your visits! At times, maintenance costs have become more expensive than the respective Colleges and Universities could bear.
It is good that we started listening to each other; let's not be defensive. I hope the Ministry of Education will take a note of this concern in our debate and strive for corrections. I also invite other Colleagues to join this debate!