Fortune News | Aug 22,2020
Feb 4 , 2023
By Eden Sahle ( Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. )
Folks awed by the devastating national exam results have ignored the massive crisis that engulf the academic sector for nearly half a century. The country has shied away from the embarrassing catastrophe. Instead of addressing the fundamental source, society is absorbed in tedious arguments blaming students, who are victims of the inefficient system.
From the conversations I had with public school students who did not excel in the much-anticipated national exam, I realised they were distressed but expected the result. Majority of these young students are burdened and tasked with house chores and work to make ends meet. The boys work as taxi assistants or street vendors, while the girls work as part-time housemaids to provide for their families and finance their education.
They have to make painful decisions to sacrifice their future since supporting their down-and-out families became a quest for survival. Most of them are from dysfunctional homes or are raised by single parents with several children. Education is presumed to only be class attendance as many students are forced to work after school rather than carry out follow-up studies. They are compelled to be breadwinners, carrying burdens beyond their age and capacity.
Unfortunately, this is a tragic reality for many. Although it is one of the crucial causes for the performance, authorities choose to turn a blind eye. The country prides itself in the slogan “education access for all” while failing to provide quality, even access in some cases.
Pointing fingers at students is a maddening fallacy, while the weak education system and programs are not adapted to teach students skills. The lack of academic goals, chronically poor policies, and low budgets continue to drag the sector down.
We cannot discuss advancing the education system while disregarding the long-term base for collapse. The delivery of education alarms anyone who is prudent. Schools hire unmotivated and unskilled teachers inconsiderately of future generation breed. Public schools that are supposed to educate most students have been neglected for several decades.
Professionals are rare. In rote learning, skills and analysis are overshadowed by passing from one grade to another, as marks and theory cloud knowledge and practice. The curriculum focuses on a rigid teaching and learning approach instead of student engagement, creativity, innovation and self-learning. The catastrophe is embedded in various professions, with people identifying as graduates without having the necessary skills, and teachers are no exception. They are hired to pass on what they do not have themselves failing the students.
Most of the teachers I have spoken to at public schools in the capital cannot understand and speak the English language they are instructed to deliver the subject matter with. They expect students to comprehend what they do not while being defensive about their shortcomings.
Qualified teachers are game changers. They take a significant share in the transformation of a developed nation into what it is. They have the ability to make students discover themselves and unleash their potential.
There are many that benefit from qualified teachers and an advanced academic system. I remember 10 of my friends repeated classes, transferring from private to public schools, resulting in failing the national exam. Their parents sent them to the US in hope of better education. Surprisingly, they emerged top of their classes and graduated with distinction from advanced-level universities. The students who had once given up on education have become highly paid medical doctors and computer engineers.
It is not difficult to visualize what their lives would have been had they despaired and remain here. Their talents would have been wasted for they were considered failures. The students who were rendered hopeless became top performers in a system revealing that the education system is duty-bound to change. They proved the failure of the system and teachers are paramount to the limited potential of the country.
The burden of developing skilled human capital lies in the ideal education system and competent instructors. When professionals and institutions understand that their critical task is to cater to the mind of students and help them navigate through their discoveries, improvement in the Ethiopian education system can finally take place.
PUBLISHED ON Feb 04,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1188]
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