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I do not consider myself a formally educated person. The education system that I went through and the schools I attended did not teach me much about anything. Sure, I learned how to read and write in school, but I did not learn to think critically about all that I read. I did not learn to develop different points of view, nor did I figure out what I wanted to become and how to contribute to the society by going to school.
A good education system can mean the difference between a strong and a fragile nation. Unfortunately, it seems that stakeholders in the Ethiopian education sector have forgotten this.
The quality of education has been diminishing for a long time, with no signs of improving in the near future. This is especially true in private schools, which have taken it upon themselves to do whatever they please.
Parents must deal not only with incompetent teachers, but also with soaring tuition fees. How these institutions are allowed to continue to basically rob people blind is beyond my comprehension.
The way I see it, we will be knee deep in crap if we do not take measures to turn this mess around. The government has successfully increased primary school enrolment to meet the Millennium Development Goal on education. Of course, this achievement is commendable, and has been acknowledged by everyone.
However, we must now take the next step and realize that enrolment alone does not mean much. I always hear complaints about how there is a huge gap between the supply of skilled manpower and the demand from different sectors. Of course there is a gap; it is not surprising at all.
In the education system there is a basic structure that seems clear enough. There is primary education, secondary education and then preparatory education, where students are placed into one of two streams of education: social sciences or natural sciences.
In Ethiopia, 70 percent of students join the natural science track because the country needs professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. So, after prep education, those who make it go on to pursue higher education in universities, while some go to vocational schools and others abandon academics.
The unfortunate fact is that many students will not get the chance to go to college. This is not because they were born unable to learn and succeed; it is because the education system did not prepare them for exams. It is because the system completely failed them.
Education could be the key to tackling several problems that Ethiopia is facing, including unemployment, illegal migration and sheer stupidity (although, in some cases, education may not have an effect on stupidity).
The education system needs to strive towards producing brilliant minds that, in return, will work towards making this country great. It needs to shape the youth into a patriotic force that is proud of its country’s history and will work to pave a brighter future. Let’s demand higher standards – Ethiopia needs and deserves it.