Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeOpinionThe Pathetic State of Institutes of Higher Education

The Pathetic State of Institutes of Higher Education

Ethiopian Universities _ Bank Bonanza
Image : IBM times

By Samuel Estefanous

The recent bonanza at Universities across the Nation made possible by system weak links at CBE has made the Nation ponder the bigger questions. 

I am glad the Ethiopian Higher Education Institutes Students Union had issued a statement decrying the misappropriation of public funds by some students of ‘higher learning.’ 

But where is the concerted voice of officials of higher education who had collectively failed the Nation?

I mean they have been incubating a bunch of low lives who are super ready to dip their filthy hands into somebody else’s pocket the minute opportunity strikes.  

1-Spitting images of the Universities 

Those students who had been busy withdrawing funds from CBE automatic tellers machines all night long on 15 March 2024 in a way are living testaments of the pathetic state of higher learning in Ethiopia. 

The government needs to retain the service of an international auditing firm to conduct both financial and performance audits of the Universities.  Talk to anybody at the General Auditor’s Office- year in and year out, they are kept busy auditing the ill managed, ill-gotten and misappropriated accounts of the universities. 

Perhaps the overwhelming majority of the public might consider the case of former Bule Hora University President Chala Wata an isolated instance. It isn’t. What made his case dramatic is the extent of criminal intent he had harbored as he had tried to “buy” his immunity by joining the ranks of the house of people’s representatives. 

He had hoped he wouldn’t be caught in ‘flagrante delicto’, and he would be at total liberty to enjoy the fruits of his criminal endeavors taking cover behind parliamentary immunity.  

Makes one wonder how many had.

In the event you didn’t know, Walta & Fana TVs did their level best- under the circumstances- to unravel the extent of ignorance, unprofessionalism, despondence and illicit activities associated with the accounts of Universities- particularly the so called second and Third Generation Ethnic Universities.

Honest to God, one doesn’t incubate a snake egg and expect a pigeon chick to hatch. 

2- ‘They Drive Revos and live in Mansions across the Capital’

A couple of years ago we were lamenting the meager income of University professors when we were informed that a Ph.D. earns around fifteen thousand birr per month.  However one of our companions grinned savagely and noted 

‘I don’t know about your professors but I know University officials drive Revolution brand vehicles and live in mansions around Addis.’  No one took him seriously-naturally- but guess what? The Revo part of the story happened to be true. That kinda gives you an idea.

I mean if the Nation’s scarce resources allocated to institutes of higher learning are expended on Revos, how could we expect research breakthroughs from the Universities except perhaps for breaking news of break-ins?  

3- What is he good for?  Absolutely nothing! 

According to BBC Amharic the miscreant students who had misappropriated the funds actually characterize the criminal activity as ‘a job done’-a typical criminal gangs lingo doing bank hold ups.

Remember Edwin Starr’s song- what is it good for? It was made famous by Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour.  All the time I was reading about the unfortunate heist, I feel sorry for the kids who were under the illusion that they had indeed pulled off a job. 

The true fact of the matter is they had sealed their respective fates. The digital age might be an occasional blessing for the criminal mind but it is also a perpetual curse. The moment CBE releases their digital criminal footprint into the webs and the cloud, their future is doomed. Ten years from now at a neat small town in the Mid-West or a dusty outpost in Nigeria, their names surface up when they apply for a job that requires a little bit of trustworthiness. 

What are they good for now? Absolutely nothing!  A future irredeemably lost for a paltry sum. 

I am not even thinking about the probability of their serving terms at Federal correctional facilities. Any amateur can tell you that the case would be a piece of cake for any given juvenile prosecutor or investigating office. It is the specter of a doomed future that bothers me on account of their respective families and friends.

These past four days I was traveling around towns in the Rift Valley all along Modjo way down to Dilla. Federal Police officers are stationed at selected posts and do a thorough body frisking not to mention searching vehicles ‘inside out’. 

If I were in their places I would rather send scouts to look for wide eyed, jumpy, restless youth fitted in crispy brand new outfits surrounded by scantily dressed girls on some kind of drinking binge spree. They could have apprehended half those on the wanted list. 

4- A Blessing in Disguise 

Just like in the health sector, in the world of criminal science study prevention holds premium currency. That is why law enforcement agencies’ performance is measured in the reduced rate of commission- not necessarily in the conviction rate carried.

Thus, as the sole owner of CBE, the government might be able to recoup public funds lost by way of doing hands-on analysis of the symptom for the purpose of defining policy trends. 

You know as car manufacturers, insurance companies and other stakeholders crash brand new cars to test safety.

Though unwittingly, the CBE had activated a “Bait, Mask and Ruse” system to define criminal trends in terms of locality, age group, gender, educational background and social station. Most important of all, all this spectacular heist has laid bare the state of higher education learning in the country. 

This is a billion dollar venture by itself if the best could be made of it.

Take solace CBE, your money isn’t lost in vain.

God Bless.  

The writer can be reached at : estefanoussamuel@yahoo.com     

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com


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  1. The writer assumes too much about CBE and the Government. I think the Students know that CBE is run by corrupt individuals who are associated with the Government. So when they get a chance to steal they may consider it their own money taken by CBE and the Government by way of corruption. That is what I think and that is what I would do to.
    #FANO is the answer for all this because Ethiopia needs descent leaders after 50 years of mismanagement.


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