The Addis Ababa University, the longest serving higher institution in Ethiopia, gave a three day seminar to its teachers in all campuses, Capital learned. The meeting was originally intended to take place at one location from October 3 to 5, but they later decided to carry it out separately on different campuses.
When the seminar came to a close at the Sidist Kilo Main campus on Friday, October 5, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), Minister of Information and Communication Technology gave guidance to the participants saying that in the coming years the university must focus on the problems of religious radicalism and the dangers of terrorism. “We don’t want to have a destabilization movement under the guise of religion. In every religion we trace fundamentalism which is contrary to the basic principle of religion that teaches coexistence with each other,” Debretstion was quoted as saying. This movement has to be stopped, he strongly warned.
He also attended the meeting at the Arat Kilo Science Faculty on Thursday, October 3. Sources told Capital that at Science Faculty like in other faculties raised questions about the teachers’ salary increase. Dr. Debretsion discouraged the issue out of hand by saying:
“This time don’t expect a pay raise. You have the capacity to generate additional income by having additional work elsewhere. We don’t like that option. But on the government side there is no plan to increase the salary of teachers at this time,” he said.
A teacher who preferred anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue told Capital that he is not happy with the response of Debretsion. “Inflation is extremely high. So life is difficult to manage with the salary we are receiving now. House rent is increasing literally every month. The government wants us to provide a quality education. With this small pay it is impossible to have first class teachers. So the fall of the standard of education, due to mediocre teachers, is an avoidable fact,” he said.
But Dr. Debretsion was positive about the housing question. “I know that the late Prime Minister wanted the housing problem of the university teachers to be tackled. Accordingly something has been done in that direction all through. So we will exert every effort to resolve the housing problem that the teachers face,” Dr. Debretsion said.
The other major discussion point was about the quality of education. There was a consensus that the quality of education has tremendously gone down. Though all of them agreed to improve the quality of education, no viable future plan was put in place. “We all said that we will improve the quality of education. This is a cliché like saying we shall realize the dreams of the visionary leader,” remarked one disgruntled teacher. But making change requires a backbreaking job, he concluded.