Verbatim | Dec 04,2022
Jul 29 , 2023
By AKSAH ITALO ( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
Technical assistants in higher education institutions across the country foresee opportunities to advance their educational status and climb the career ladder, as Minister of Education Berhanu Nega (Prof) ushered in a new directive that looks through their rights and obligations.
Officials hope to scale up the working conditions by paving the way for benefit packages and compensation adjustments, where technical assistants will have a chance to compete and become instructors following their respective departments' approval.
The directive entails serving a tenure of two years as a chief technical assistant and above-average scores in three-year performance are mandatory for promotion. It falls in line with overhauling the education system which has seen several reforms ever since Berhanu took the ministerial chair.
According to Chane Adefris, head of higher education affairs development, fostering quality of education and upscaling the students' ability calls for upgrading the capacities of academics and technical assistants.
"The education system requires overall reform," he said.
There are 7,420 technical assistants equivocal for the past few years for the unclear role they had been playing at the 47 public universities across the country.
The Ethiopian Teachers' Association serving as an umbrella to nearly 700,000 members, had received complaints about promotions, housing benefits, and tax issues.
The Association President Yohannes Benti (PhD), believes that the directive will relieve technical assistants who remained at the bottom of the learning curve.
"Their presence was undermined," he said.
Not long ago, a five-day strike in several universities was organised by members of the teachers and technical staff association in an effort to obtain higher wages and improved benefits packages. They claimed to have been underpaid and systematically undervalued for their efforts.
Nearly 298Km north of the capital, Debre Markos University comprises 50 assistant academic technicians. President of its 1,600 members strong Teachers' Association Damot Anteneh (PhD), applauds the efforts by the Ministry in addressing the concerns raised by academic technicians.
He recalls the association had petitioned demands of technical assistants concerning their promotion, salary, and housing benefits, two years ago, claiming to have fiddled with the low wages and were struggling to cover their rents with a salary that averages around 7,000 Br.
"Some of the asks have found answers," he said, citing the recent housing benefit package of 1,600 Br as one recent improvement.
The University technical staff members seem relieved by the directive that recognises their efforts.
Abatneh Tariku, a survey technical assistant in the civil engineering department, applauded the gesture as a necessary development in improving the educational career of technical assistants.
Abatneh pointed out that technical staff members were deprived of promotions, overtime payments, and opportunities to study abroad. He believes there is a wider implication of supporting technical academicians in bringing in quality education.
"I've always wanted to advance my degree," he said.
Some members, however, believe pressing issues of overtime payments and promotions remain unanswered.
Selamsew Anberber, a chief technical assistant in the IT department at Gonder University.
He has worked for more than 12 years with a 7,071 Br monthly salary and does not see the light in waiting around for the empty slot in order to ask for a promotion rather than rewarding based on their own merit.
"That will make us fall under the mercy of someone else," he said.
Experts such as Desalegn Anshiso (PhD), a human development & labour market coordinator at Policy Studies Institute, stress the importance of recognising academicians for a better educational system.
Desalegn argues that the rippled factors of the regressed education system had been seen through the lens of assistant technicians where most of the educational facilities are underequipped leaving the technical assistants hire on the basis of a theoretical background than technical skills.
The experts recommend implementing an educational reform that prioritises practical skills testing before admission to institutions.
"They need to go through a thorough examination to test their skills," he said.
PUBLISHED ON Jul 29,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1213]
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