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Ethiopia Challenges Edu System 2005 IJER%

Ethiopia Challenges Edu System 2005 IJER%

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Published by: hundee on Mar 08, 2009
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06/16/2009

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Curriculum Reform, Challenges, and Coping StrategiesIn the Ethiopian Educational SystemIntroduction
Ethiopia is a nation of more than 70 million people characterized bydiverse ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. The agrarian subsistence economyfalls short of food self-sufficiency and this remains a major problem for thecountry. Following decades of monarchical rule and a seventeen-year militaryregime, since the early 1990s Ethiopia has entered into the process of transformation towards a more civil society. This transformational process has ledto numerous socioeconomic and political policy reforms. Central to reforms in theeducation sector are changes in the school curriculum, the decentralization of education, the use of regional languages for instruction (as opposed to the former use of the national language, Amharic), emphasis upon democratic values, andmultiple perspectives in addressing diversity issues in education. These changesconstitute a significant turning point in the history of education of this country.Recent reforms in education began with the Ministry of Education(M.O.E) document,
 Education and Training Policy
(M.O.E,. 1994). Thisdocument begins by describing major problems of the educational system. Theseinclude: problems of relevance, quality, accessibility, equity, mode of delivery,inadequate facilities, insufficiently trained teachers, and shortages of books andother teaching materials. In response to these challenges, this documentrecommends changes in the school curriculum, language of instruction, teacher education programs and the examination system. These reforms were deemed1
 
necessary strategies for making education more responsive to educational reformobjectives which included: greater emphasis upon problem solving at all levels,increasing the numbers of teachers needed for greatly increasing demands, wiser use of resources, increasing democratic culture, more efficient dissemination of science and technology, and making education more responsive to societal needs.The reform policy priorities requires a change in the school curriculum,improvement in the professional development of teachers, the use of regionallanguages for primary education, and specialized training of kindergarten and primary education teachers. The policy further proposes conducting a nationalexamination at grade eight in order to certify the completion of primary education.In an effort to facilitate the reform recommendations, major changes have been underway in recent years. First, decentralized curricula guidelines are nowin place for primary education across all regions. This contrasts greatly with theformer system, which required a uniform curriculum practiced nationwide.Moreover, Regional Education Bureaus now use curricular materials moreresponsive to their diverse cultures. For example, rather than the former requirement that Amharic
 
 be used as the medium of instruction throughout thecountry, regional (vernacular) languages of the regions (e.g. Tigrinya, Oromipha,Harari) are being used instead. In addition, former one-year Teacher TrainingInstitutions (TTIs) are now being transformed into two-year Community Collegesfor the education and training of teachers for the second cycle of primaryeducation (Grades 5-8). Further, the national examination for Grade 8 that wasformerly administered only in the national Amharic language is now being2
 
administered in the regional languages. With these ongoing reforms, the firstgroup of schoolchildren experiencing the new curricula completed secondaryeducation (Grade12) in the 2002/03 academic year.In the course of implementing the new policy, however, some challengesappear to be emerging regarding the compatibility of the decentralized curricula,use of regional languages, teacher education, and the administration of thenational examination. The problems appear to be particularly acute at the secondcycle of primary education (Grades 5-8).A change in curriculum should take into account the larger socioculturalcontext but, should also not neglect the structural contexts of the educationalsystem (Cornbleth, 1990). During the process of reform, these sub cultures of educational systems become either compatible or antagonistic. Compatibilityamong reforms prevails when a change in curriculum is followed bycorresponding reforms in other relevant sectors of an educational system (Shiundu& Omulando, 1992). If antagonism prevails among the recent reforms in theeducational system of Ethiopia, the realization of curriculum change and theobjectives of education outlined in the reform policy will be challenged. Thesynchronicity among the reform efforts, therefore, deserves critical inquiry sincechange initiatives, contrary to the aspired goals, may turn out to be sources of constraints on teaching and on students’ opportunity for learning (Jacklam, 1996).Cornbleth (2001) raises a critical question regarding what factors get inthe way of teaching for meaningful learning and critical thinking that incorporatesdiverse perspectives and students in terms of constraints/restraints. By extending3

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