Higher Education in Ethiopia in 1962



Some 54 years ago, in 1962 G.C. or 1954/5 Ethiopian Calendar, an academic report was produced and published on the first version of Journal of Ethiopian Studies by Professor Monika Kehoe, who was the Chair of Women and Lecturer of English and Psychology at the then Haile Selassie University now Addis Abeba University.

I have jotted down some the interesting verses from report that I think on hand show the state of higher education provision during the imperial era and treatment of students that staged protests.

  • University College Addis Abeba (UCAA) was founded by Canadian Jesuits with the permission of his Majesty Haile Selassie but provided that they do not wear their religious habits in public and do not proselyte. 
  • The University financed almost every cost of students including counselling, sports equipment and medical expenses but in early 1960s the students staged a sit in strike to get open library stacks and better foods among the strikers were students from 50 African countries, whom HIM Haile Selassie offered a scholarship.
  • The author says that around 460 students of the regular University program have “achieved little academic distinction”, thus suggests that most students should pay for tuition and the less fortunate should be given scholarship.
  • The problem could be related, Monika, argues might relate to lanugaue of instruction. Because the same curriculum and exams are offered to Ethiopian students as British students, it could affect their achievements, thus the education can be tailored.
  • Lack of female students, 40, then is the other problem, the author finds.
  • Monika advises that students going to the US should be better screened after most students returning after studying in the US were found to be anti-American, unlike the general population. Monika argues “their antipathy to the United States, based on ignorance and feeling of inferiority as citizens of an underdeveloped country, is fairly typical and is seldom affected by the glossy brochures distributed by the local United States Information Service, which proclaim with appropriate illustrations how much American dollar aid has been given to Ethiopia during the last fiscal year.”
  • But regarding the zeal of Ethiopian students to get education abroad, perhaps well funded American education, the writer says “the Coptic priest-teacher has never enjoyed quite the same elevated and charmed status as the Confucian scholar.”
  • For a genuine, first hand understanding of Africa, “a matter of vital concern to Americans”, the writer suggests that the Ethiopian government could be persuaded to institute a “junior year abroad” at Haile Selassie University for American undergraduates.
  • Finally the author notes that in terms of administration, the three level salary complicates matters.

Monika Kehoe (1962) “Higher Education in Ethiopia: A Report on Haile Selassie I”  The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 33, pp. 475-478, Ohio State University Press Stable