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Ethiopia introduced new university admission rule as a security measure

Security concern compels Ethiopia to introduce new university admission regulation. Will it work?

Hirut Woldemariam, Science and Higher Education Minister
Hirut Woldemariam, Science and Higher Education Minister. Photo credit : FBC

September 24, 2019

In the past two years, Universities in Ethiopia became places where the security situation deteriorated to the point that parents were concerned about the safety of their children.

For a reason. Many of Ethiopia’s nearly 33 universities have experienced ethnic-based violence. In fact, students were killed at  Assosa, Adigrat, Aksum, and Deberemarkos universities in the last two years. And there was serious violence in other universities like Bule Hora University and Metu University, among other things.

This year Abiy Ahmed’s administration seems to be determined to make universities safer again. And the government’s approach is like a trade-off between freedom and security. 

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education announced on Tuesday that students, freshman students or otherwise, will have to sign an agreement with district-level education offices in the areas where they (and their parents) live.

The Ministry has prepared a form which will be filled out by students and their parents, and submit it to the education office in their areas of residence.

How is the ministry enforcing the new regulation? Freshman, Junior or senior level university students will not be admitted to for the academic year if they do not produce filled out, signed and stamped form, as reported by state-affiliated broadcaster Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC).

The ministry has made it clear that it will hold both parents and students for wrongdoings that will negatively impact peace and security in the universities.

Government believes that the agreement will enable institutions of higher learning to maintain peace and security needed for the teaching and learning process.

Reactions are mixed. There are those who tend to see the new regulations as necessary in view of the violence experienced over the past few weeks.

And then there are those activists, mainly from the ethnic radical nationalist quarter, who are vehemently condemning the new move.

Jawar Mohammed is Minnesota based radial Oromo ethnic nationalist who has over a million followers on Facebook and he has also established his own ethnic Oromo Media.

Although public opinion outside of his radicalized ethnic youth group tends to see him as a person responsible for some of the deadly violence in some parts of Ethiopia, he seems to be feared by Oromo Democratic Party dominated Federal government and Oromo regional state government.

In a Facebook update he wrote on Tuesday, September 23, he threatened the government that the new regulation “must be scrapped.”

“Is this government filled with crazy individuals? Most college students are of legal age ( 18). How could parents be held responsible for actions of such adult students? This seems to aim to intimidate students and parents. Students ought to be governed by university rules not woreda cadres. This is unlawful and undemocratic must be scrapped.”

Screenshot from Jawar’s status update

He is not alone. Die-hard supporters of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) are also opposing the new rules.  Daniel Berhane is founder of Horn Affairs Website and an ardent champion of TPLF. He is skeptical that the new regulation “must be an experience shared from  President Isayas Afeworki and Eritrea”

Screenshot from Daniel Berhane’s Facebook post

The views of Abiy Ahmed’s government critics aside, it is questionable if some regions in Ethiopia, where radical ethnic nationalists exercise influence, will implement this new federal government regulation.

Pictures of the forms are shared below.

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  1. Jawar is right this women is dectating where university GA’s should get their masters from by pressuring the universties to not give sponsorship letter except to the university her beuro placed them.And now she thinks she can assure safety by making them sign illegal contract,she is 100% politically motivated as the students are not always the perpetuators instead they were killed by local people who live near by the universties(e.g Debremarkos,Gondar…)what she and Abyi are fearing is potential riot by this students against his ill concived ideas and wrong doings(postphoning election,rigging election,terrorizing people) and last but not list he is using this as a levrage to turn the election in his favor

  2. We need justice;

    Kimant is now massacred by amhara militia

    Kimant and Agew are tortured , killed and abused by Amahra elites

    victimes over 550,000 by fano and ABN

  3. My son is joining university this semester and I assume that both my son and myself have to abide by this agreement. I say, it is the right thing to do. It has never been easy for me to raise a child to reach this age and level, and I definitely do not want him to focus on political discourse than his studies. Yes, I am happy to share the responsibility! It is much easier for me to influence my son than trying to recover him from the fire.


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