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HomeCountriesEast Africa › Ethiopia

Ethiopia Country AET Profile

About Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Government has a vision of vastly increasing the numbers of students within higher education institutions (HEIs) and increasing the numbers of universities and university colleges in the country. To this end it intends to develop around 13 new university colleges in the longer term. This vision is commendable – most of the main regions and centers of population should have a HEI in the longer term. On the other hand it is not possible to create a university or university college from a field in a few months without devaluing the idea of a university and the currency of a university education. This report addresses this dilemma: the need to expand the numbers of HEIs and the numbers of students benefiting, while retaining quality and institutions that at least approach international standards.

Ethiopia’s higher education has yet to develop as a system: the new HEIs should be part of a set of interrelated and complementary institutions, each with a particular and different function and goals within the system. The system needs mechanisms to develop a flourishing professional and academic community: a functioning association of Public Higher Education Institutions; subject associations; and professional groups of support managers in higher education. Institutions should work together to agree how each will make a special contribution and develop a distinctive curriculum appropriate for a particular region or for the country as a whole. The new HEIs should offer demand driven subjects and interdisciplinary programs integrating gender and HIV/AIDS; work experience and practice.

At present, Ethiopia’s higher education is focused almost exclusively in bachelor and higher degrees, in comprehensive universities each offering a large number of comparatively small programs. The new HEIs should be more specialist, each offering a few very large programs and new 12+1 (higher education certificate) and 12+2 (associate degree) programs.

Prior to 1974, Ethiopia had an estimated illiteracy rate well above 90% and compared poorly with the rest of Africa in the provision of schools and universities. After the 1974 revolution, emphasis was placed on increasing literacy in rural areas. Practical subjects were stressed, as was the teaching of socialism. Education received roughly 13% of the national budget in 1992. By 1995 the rate of illiteracy had dropped substantially to 64.5%. Projected adult illiteracy rates for the year 2000 stand even lower at 61.3% (males, 56.1%; females, 66.6%). As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.3% of GDP.

Public education is compulsory and free at the primary level. In 1997, elementary schools had a total enrollment of 4,007,694 pupils in 10,256 schools with 92,775 teachers. At the secondary level in 1997, there were 889,650 pupils with 25,402 teachers. As of 1999, 31% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school. Addis Ababa University (formerly Haile Selassie I University) has extension centers in Alemaya, Gonder, Awasa, Bahir-Dar, and Debre Zeyit. The University of Asmera is a Roman Catholic institution. In 1997, post-secondary institutions had a total of 42,226 pupils.

Institutions in Ethiopia

Reports on Ethiopia
Ethiopia - Current Student Enrolment and Academic Staffing

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