12 July 2017

Ethiopia: Education Excellence - Cornerstone for Nation Building

analysis

More than 100,000 students are expected to graduate this year from higher education institutes. A number of public universities have already graduated their students from various faculties. Most of the graduates are from science and technology universities and faculties in line with the 30/70 ration between social sciences and the fields of natural and physical sciences.

All of the graduates have prepared research papers or projects as a requirement for their graduation in line with the academic regulations in the institutes. It is wrong to assume that these research papers are meant only to be taken as a "partial fulfillment for a degree."

The point is, researches by students from institutes of higher learning are not supposed to be conducted for the mere reason of research. Rather, their significance should be weighed in terms of transferring knowledge, and addressing social, economic, political challenges at grass root level.

Research documents are not meant for prolonged shelf life or just for the purpose of statistics. The findings of researches need to be used for shaping and revising government polices and strategies when the need arises.

Every year the government is expending a huge amount of finance on hiring foreign consultants to conduct studies on various development programme's of the country. To what extent graduates of public and private universities are taking part in such consultancy services (as a means of knowledge transfer) is still a question.

To this end, universities should create a conducive environment for current and prospective graduates to conduct problem solving researches that would benefit the country in all aspects. In this regard, it is crucial to work towards producing highly qualified graduate consultants.

The current graduation season is a nodal point between being a student and getting into the real life of taking responsibilities and a journey towards the accomplishment of one's mission and vision. The challenges of college days will be replaced by other challenges with new dimensions.

The realization of the country's development objectives entirely lies on its younger generation. It is also a time that personal missions and visions are taken into consideration for the overall mission and vision of the nation.

Graduation should also serve as an instrument to an improved livelihood and quality of life. College days are periods of a dress rehearsal for yet another higher level of achievements. New graduates are expected to come up with new ideas and views that could boost the development efforts of the nation whose hope lies on its younger generation. On the other hand, graduating in a specific field does not in any manner mean ceasing to learn and also unlearn.

After graduation, our young graduate to the practical school of life. And this metamorphosis should involve disposing of counterproductive ideas and views that would do a disservice to one's development and the development of the country. Among other things, new graduates need to join a developmental-democratic-minded workforce that detests and fights nepotism, dependency, rent-seeking and shortcut to undeserved benefits.

Graduation is not only about numbers. It is also about quality of service that the youth should offer to their country. For instance, the newly inaugurated industrial parks are in need of qualified manpower that could manage all the sectors in the parks.

Besides that, the country is still short of qualified doctors, engineers, social workers, lawyers that can contribute to its development, which is currently growing in a faster momentum. This could not come out of the blue, but from the exerted efforts of all.

The unemployment rate in Ethiopia is still at a higher level and the government is already conducting multifaceted programmes that targets the youth. In this regard, the current graduates should be part of the process and in seeking alternatives in creating new employment opportunities for themselves and for the rest of the youth.

Indeed, the government may provide substantial vacancies for employment both at the federal and in the regions but cannot accommodate all graduates. New graduates need to think of several options both as their short and long term visions to secure sustained livelihood.

Ethiopia is growing in a much faster pace with the basic ground work well underway for promoting the manufacturing sector. This, unquestionably, requires highly skilled manpower.

Some public universities have entered into agreement with local manufacturing industries a couple of years ago. This strategy was designed in view of establishing a reciprocal relationship between institutions and industries to provide practical technical entrepreneurship for graduating students. As a result, it gives opportunity for prospective graduates to have combined professional skills, theoretical and practical knowledge.

There are a number of missing links between demands in the manufacturing sector and the quality of manpower required. The extent to which the public and private universities are working towards filling the missing links in producing skilled professionals is determinant for the effective and timely fulfillment of the nation's vision of becoming a middle income country by 2025.

The government has put in place a viable strategy for ascertaining quality education in the country. However, there is more to be done to ensure quality education in educational institutions. Irrefutably, a lot of efforts are being made to bring about quality education in the institutions, including higher level institutions. However, this cannot be accomplished across that board in a single instance.

Reports from the Ministry of Education indicated that 11 public universities will start to enrol new students in the next academic year. This shows the commitments that the government has in reaching out to the nation's young generation with university education closer to the different zones in the various regions of the country.

Graduates are to be congratulated for completing a chapter in their lives but certainly more is in store for them.

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