Ethiopia: The so called Education Road Map and language issues

Ethiopia: The so called Education Road Map and language issues

Children can learn up to five languages at a time. I speak four languages fluent and learning onother one. That does not make one genius but it does enhance intelligence. Learning new language also helps to socialise, create a globally and locally conscious citizens and it also offers opportunities.

I have not seen the entire document of the so called Education Road Map that has been published and tabled for discussion by panel of experts and stakeholders. According to people who are taking part on the discussion, however, the road map is a rehash of Derg era focus on English and Amharic languages.

Ethiopian citizens should be multilingual. All of them at all corners. Every citizens should know at least three languages and government needs to work towards making this happen. Anyone who is lazy or uninterested to learn three languages should be at disadvantages by law. Institutions should make it mandatory when hiring their employees that they speak at least three languages.

We have to choose between completely independent workforce at each regional state that is not interchangeable or an integrated one that is universally trained and acceptable in all regional states. Regional states and institutions should choose to hire or refuse to do so based on language requirements. This can’t be discrimination. Many Oromo students who can’t speak Amharic still can’t get jobs a federal institutions. This might look discrimination but it is supported by law and the only way to accommodate the graduates is by changing the law.

The Road Map, although it has consulted regional states, does infringe on the constitutional rights of states to formulate their own education policy. And this should not be tolerated specially at this transitional time when rule of law and democracy are becoming rule of the game. I think it is being watered down and it will only be applied if regional states take it and even then it will be heavily edited to suit the needs of each regional state.

I’m not against the provision of teaching in English Language early from grade seven while 1-6 grades would be taught in mother tongue languages. However, while there is a clear need to make Afaan Oromo federal working language and teach it at schools across the country, the Road Map fails to see impending changes in the country and continues to advocate for Amharic to be offered even in Oromia from grade 1. Oromia teaches Amharic even today as a subject matter while children in some urban areas such as Adaamaa and Jimmaa go to Amharic only schools. So this is not new at all. What is new is now the federal government is trying to impose a policy of teaching kids Amharic as a subject from grade 1 everywhere in Oromia.

The government needs to take a political decision of making Afaan Oromo federal working language and at least offer alternative to regional state to choose between Amharic and Oromo or even make both of the languages the working languages of the regional states and medium of instruction. Why would Gambella and Benishangula take Amharic as their regional working language while there are native Oromo speakers in their regions and they have much closer economic and cultural ties with Oromia than Amhara region or federal government. Why Harari region uses Amharic? Why Diredawa uses Amharic? Why many zones in the south such as Burji, Konso, Gedeo use Amharic while they have large native Oromo speaking population?

Via: Biyya Oromiyaa