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