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Ethiopia’s new education policy pending approval from parliament 

English language to be offered starting from grade 1 while Ethiopia’s national language will be offered from grade 3, conditionally. Parliament will have to stamp it before it is implemented 

New Education Policy _ Ethiopia
PM Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet voting during a discussion on the education policy, February 27, 2023 (Photo : Public Domain)

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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet on Monday said that it has approved a new education policy. It will be replacing the existing one which has been in use for about 28 years. But it will have to be approved by the parliament first. 

There has not been a precedent since Abiy Ahmed took power, even before him, whereby the parliament rejected policy decisions from the council of ministers. 

Based on the report from ENA, state-owned media, the council of Ministers did see undesirable shortcomings of the outgoing system.  

The council believed that it did not encourage indigenous knowledge, did not produce citizens that create jobs and did not encourage innovation and technology. 

It did also have a disastrous consequence on the quality of education including a university-level education. 

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet believes that the “new” Education and Training Policy will bring about change in terms of addressing the problems from the old system. 

The new policy is to introduce a 6-2-4 system – six years of elementary education, two years of junior school education and four years of high school education. 

Language 

The education policy does still seem to be ensnared in the ideology of ethnic politics that was formally introduced, with constitutional support,  after the TPLF took power in 1991. 

The new policy envisages an education system that makes students multilingual but the local languages are to be offered only on the basis of parental preference. 

The English language is to be offered to start from grade 1 while Ethiopia’s Federal Working Language, like Amharic, is only to be offered after grade 3 and based on the preferences of parents.

Regional states have retained power in terms of dictating what language students should use in schools. However, after grade nine the medium will be strictly English. The Federal Ministry of education has authority over that. 

However, the federal government’s power is minimal, if not nonexistent, when it comes to regulating education until grade 8 in ethnic-based regions. 

In a related development, the Council of Ministers passed a decision that is believed to make universities more autonomous. The goal is to make them more competitive. They are now authorized to generate their own income and provide multi-faceted service to the public.   

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