Toronto – Four universities in Amhara regional state of Ethiopia postponed school start date. Bahir Dar University, Debre Tabor University, Debre Markos University and Gonder University will not start the school year this month.
Ethiopian Academic year for universities usually starts in the first weeks of September (Meskerem) in the Ethiopian calendar.
From a news report by Local pro-regime broadcaster,Fana, it looks like students will not start any time before well into October- if all goes well which is uncertain given the prevailing condition in the region and elsewhere in Ethiopia.
Ten to Fifteen years back, higher education in Ethiopia was entirely free ; not just tuition fee but also accommodation and meals.
Recently, the regime started a new cost sharing program – an arrangement where students will pay a significant portion of all expenses which is very hard in a country where more than half of the entire population earns less than a dollar a day. The delay in school start date is likely to cause financial strains on students and parents – specially students who travel from other parts of Ethiopia.
No adequate explanation is given,seemingly, as to why school start date is pushed to sometime in, probably late, October.
It is not, however, very hard to speculate reasons behind it. The four universities mentioned above are located in the parts of Ethiopia, Gonder and Gojam, where there has been a popular uprising against the regime in power and the revolt does not seem to be going away. Following brutal killings of hundreds of youth in those areas, a combination of stay at homes and organized work strike has been going on and still active in the region.
Hundreds of youth were brutally killed and thousands led to detention centers in environmentally adverse areas and subject to inhuman tortures.
Since the regime in power did not positively respond to demands raised by popular movement, it is unlikely for the revolt to vanish with no achievements. In that case, it may mean continued intensified brutal crackdown in the region. It is not hard to foretell that extended crackdown will have undesirable consequences for the regime in power. There are indications of possibilities for the movement to go clandestine.
Cover photo : Engineering faculty BU