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Ethiopia may not be able to achieve its transformation into a middle income economy without commensurate changes in General Secondary Education (GSE), a World Bank (WB) study revealed. One of the key issues to be evaluated while responding to the changing demand for human resource is the issue of curricular choices in general secondary education.
A study book entitled Secondary Education in Ethiopia: Supporting Growth and Transformation published by the WB to communicate the results of the bank’s ongoing research and to stimulate public discussion, was launched on 7 December, 2012 at the Hilton.
Ethiopia is aspiring to become a middle income country by 2025 and it is making remarkable progress in this direction. During the PASDEP period (2005/06-2009/10) the economy grew on an average by 10 percent. Ethiopia has managed to put in place a robust infrastructure road network and power system among others. Foreign direct investment is growing year by year. The country aims at universalizing GSE by 2025. This aspiration is not likely to materialize, according to the study. International experience indicates that it is highly unlikely that all students entering GSE would have attained the competency levels required to handle a curriculum designed as a prerequisite for eventually joining higher education.
In Ethiopia GSE serves twin purpose-preparing students for Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) and higher education. The government has a policy of streaming 80 percent of graduates to TVET and the rest to higher education. Since all students in GSE follow the same curriculum, the content depth for this level is determined by the prerequisites for higher education by default.
By the time children complete primary education, the study says, they develop diverse abilities, aptitudes and aspirations.  Results of GSE Certificate examinations show that a large proportion of grade 10 students do not attain the basic level of competency the curriculum implies. This problem will only worsen as the participation rate in GSE increases. This is not unique to Ethiopia.
On the one hand, students who are not able to attain the basic competency level at the end of grade 10 would get demoralized. And on the other hand the nation would have wasted scarce resources by trying to help students with low abilities to handle the higher level that they are not prepared to master, the study argues. 
These implications are serious enough to push for  alternatives to a single curriculum for GSE. As of now, only 20 percent of GSE graduates will become higher education graduates. Even when this share increases, some of the GSE graduates will continue to become plumbers, carpenters, sales persons, contractors, agriculture extension workers, midwifes, etc. All of them don’t need to master mathematics of the same difficulty level as the ones who are destined to become engineers as clearly, many people succeed in their life without mastering all the difficult topics in mathematics and physics courses of GSE.
The streaming GSE graduates according to their abilities is justified in Ethiopia on the ground that the society needs TVET graduates, and professionals of natural sciences and social sciences in certain proportion. When this logic is extended to the GSE level it is hard to justify that all students at GSE level have to have the identical competencies. 
Based on the results of GSE examination, most able students are selected for the Natural Sciences stream of the preparatory, while those least able for TVET, and the rest for the Social Sciences stream of the preparatory. If Ethiopia is practicing segregation of students as per their abilities at grades 11-12, it is hard to justify not doing so at grade 9-10 to protect the egalitarian values. There is no proof that the single curricular option yields greater benefits to society and students than the other curricular choice option says the study. In this context it may be worthwhile looking at the example of how Germany steams students based on their abilities and aptitudes.