The Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) began licensing universities and colleges that are willing to provide online education for undergraduate and graduate programs.
The Agency began to provide the license after a directive was enacted to legalize the provision of online education by higher education institutions, including TVETs, colleges and universities.
According to the Agency, the directive enables institutions that are already well-equipped for online education, but are not able to start providing the service due to lack of a legal framework.
Ever since COVID-19 came into picture, higher education institutions have been providing education to their students using online platforms in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.
But the effort was not successful because of absence of a guideline to govern online education in the country, according to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
"Covid-19 is like a wake-up call to digitize the education sector. It showed us the need for online education in Ethiopia, which has been neglected for long," said Afework Kasu (Prof.), State Minister of Science and Higher Education. He added: "It's important in areas where there is low access to education as it enables them register at higher education institutions."
According to the directive, any government or private educational institution willing to provide online education has to fulfill facilities, infrastructure, human resource, and other requirements. Some institutions have already applied to get license from HERQA to provide the service and are waiting for an approval.
"Any professional living in remote areas with an internet access can attend education in recognized institutions and will be able to acquire a certificate of graduation," said Afework.
By the end of last year, more than one million students in Ethiopia attended higher education programs in government institutions. 212 undergraduate, 457 masters, and 220 PhD programs were given by 40,000 teachers across the country during the time.