Western Education in Ethiopia There Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" (Bitek, 1989, Ngugi wa Thiongo, 1986, Mazrui, 1986, 2001, Mamdani, 1990, 1993, Copans, 1990, Rwomire, 1992, and van Rinsum, 2001; as cited in: Nyamnjoh, 2004)

According to Nyamnjoh (2004) "...the elite have 'often in unabashed imitativeness' and with little attempt at domestication, sought to reproduce, even without finances to sustain, the Oxfords, Cambridges, Harvards, Stanfords and Sorbonnes of England, the U.S.A. And France." (Nyamnjoh, 2004) Education in Africa is stated to have been and "mostly remains a journey fuelled by an exogenously induced and internalized sense of inadequacy in Africans, and endowed with the mission of devaluation or annihilation of African creativity, agency and value systems." (Nyamnjoh, 2004)

It is related by Nyamnjoh (2004) that the process of cultural uprooting of Africans "has been achieved often through literally uprooting children of the well-off from their communities and nurturing them in boarding schools" and as stated in the work of Mamdani (1990) 'almost like potted plants in green houses." Nyamnjoh states that if ancestors are "supposed to lay the path for posterity, inviting Africans to forget their ancestors was an invitation for them to be born again and socialized afresh, in the image of the West, using Western-type academic institutional and rituals of ancestral worship." (2004)

III. Conceptual View

Nyamnjoh states that there are two primary means of journeying to the West from Africa "One can undertake the journey physically or one can do psychologically with facilitation from education and the media. Either way, one still succeeds in imbibing Western influences." (2004) the result of the quest in Africa for "Western academic symbols of credentialism -- sometimes termed diplomania…" has resulted in African being "still very much dependent on ill-adapted curricula, sources and types of knowledge that alienate and enslave…" (Nyamnjoh, 2004)

IV. Reasons Western Epistemological Import Survived in African Continent Cited

The Western epistemological import is stated in the work of Nyamnjoh (2004) to have survived "in the continent more because it suits the purposes of the agents of Westernization than because of its relevance to understanding African situations." (Nyamnjoh, 2004) it is related that those who run educational programs and do so in alliance with Western models which have simultaneously adopted are "seldom tolerant of challenge, stimulation, provocation and competing perspectives at any level." (Nyamnjoh, 2004) These individuals "protect their intellectual spots jealously, and are ready to deflate all 'saboteurs' and subversives'." (Nyamnjoh, 2004)

Their desire is that these programs continue indefinitely and without any disruption however, there is stated to be a responsibility belonging to the African universities as well as to "academics and researchers" in challenging these assumptions which are not supported in evidence but which instead are on the basis of "vested interest and hidden agendas." (Nyamnjoh, 2004) These "agents of cultural devaluation" are the selfsame individuals that scholars in Africa "rely on…to fund and disseminate their research." (Nyamnjoh, 2004) This is explained in the work of Susan George who states that it does not matter what or indeed "how many 'mistakes' mainstream researchers or theorists make or how insensitive the predicament of ordinary people they are for 'protected and nurtured by those whose political objectives they support, package and condone, they have a license to go on making them, whatever the consequences." (Nyamnjoh, 2004

This is accomplished through funding of and creation of university institutions which enables those who are "the powerful…to perpetuate their ideologies by ensuring that only people with the 'correct ideas are recruited and/or retained to work there." (Nyamnjoh, 2004) Stated as a good starting point for universities and scholars are "global conversations and cooperation" in what is a "long journey of equalization and recognition for marginalized epistemologies and dimensions of scientific enquiry." (Nyamnjoh, 2004)

The work of Dom Colin entitled: "The Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Its Monastic Tradition" states of Ethiopia that it has "the only ancient written culture in sub-Saharan Africa. Church schools are still active…" (nd) the educational system is described by Dom to be "highly complex" while clergy in Ethiopia "…may seem often poorly or even shabbily dressed and may seem to be lacking in the most elementary principles of modern western education especially the sciences but that is not to say that they are uneducated. Many have spent years in disciplined study and are immensely erudite in a tradition completely foreign to western models. The educational system is also largely based on a tradition of oral culture. In contrast to a system that promotes individual creativity and independence of mind Ethiopian Orthodox education comes from a traditional society where the purpose is to fully integrate pupils into society." (Colin, nd) Also stated by Colin is that existing were "…long periods especially of Christological controversy before the Twahido doctrine emerged as normative in the 19th century." (nd)

Summary and Discussion

Education has historically and traditionally and particularly in the case of colonialism and modernization to have served as a tool for implementation of agendas, political aspirations and an overall type of societal control in terms of the modus operandi of a specific ruling and powerful mindset of scholars and academics and those who support the role that they play in this system. The educational system in Africa has effectively been impacted by the political agendas and aspirations of those in the position to control the school of thought and this has mirrored itself in the development of Africa in an inherent and integral manner.

While never colonized, Ethiopia appears to be colonized in many aspects. Ethiopian curriculum is stated to have been historically static and founded on the belief that what was important to learn in the past will forever be in the future important to learn. Education in Ethiopia in the start of the 20th century has been related in this study to have sprung from monasteries, abbeys and mosques with a primarily religious base.

This work has also related the fact that the local authority and central government were clearly not involved in curricular matters or in finance or administration and each school had its own curriculum but instead of divergence was characterized by "uniformity and convergence." (Haileselassie, nd) as well this work has noted that in the beginning of the 20th century in Ethiopia the church had a monopoly control over education with strong opposition to secular schools and the curriculum was stated to be "alien" as well as were the teaching staff and books and as well the media of instruction was also alien. (Haileselassie, nd)

It is clear that Ethiopia has fallen under several influences along the way however, it is up to the reader to disseminate the information related in this study and draw their own conclusion as to the influence that Western education and principles has had upon the educational system of Ethiopia.


Haileselassie Teklehaimanot Haileselassie, Ph.D. (nd) Ethiopia Center for Educational Information. http://chora.virtualave.net/culturalfoundation.htm

Tessema, Kedir Assefa (2007) Clinging to the Managerial Approach in Implementing Teacher Education 'Reform' Tasks in Ethiopia. International Journal of Progressive Education, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2007.

Mamdani, M. (1990) the Intelligentsia, the State and Social Movements: Some Reflections on Experiences in Africa. Kampala, Centre for Basic Research.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1997) Detailed: A Writer's Prison Diary in R.R. Grinker and C.B. Steiner eds., Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation. Oxford Blackwell Publishers.

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Rwomire, a. (1992) Education and Development: African Perspectives', Prospects, Vol. XXII, No. 2.

Van Rinsum (2001) Slaves of Definition: IN question of the Unbeliever and the Ignoramus, Maastricht, Shaker Publishing BV.


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