The Disgraceful State of Higher Education in Ethiopia: How TPLF/EPRDF Killed Higher Learning

by Alem Mamo

TPLF/EPRDF’s major bragging source over the last number of years has been its ‘achievements’ in the education sector, particularly in university education. The ruling group constantly brandishes its statics about the ‘expansion’ of higher learning in Ethiopia. What is not included in the fraudulent statistics is the obliteration of quality and depth of teaching and learning in these so-called ‘universities.’  As we have seen in most of the TPLF/EPRDF failed and corrupt policies the establishment of these so called ‘universities’ is nothing more than a construction contract to its own business conglomerates and university administration appointment to its loyal cadres.

A university is more than a building. A university in its true form requires several contextual, philosophical, and logistical grounds to fully carry out its historical and traditional role as a place of higher learning.
The higher learning landscape in Ethiopia under TPLF/EPRDF suffers from four acute problems. First, there is a chronic lack of academic freedom and autonomy, which is an essential component for any university to discharge its responsibilities. Second, there is an absence of qualified and competent instructor and mentors. Third is the almost non-existent nature of 21st century tools, such Internet communication, and finally there is the occupation and control of higher learning institutions by uneducated TPLF/EPRDF cadres. These key factors, coupled with the overall social, economic, and political problems, continue to plague the country’s higher learning landscape equating to a level similar to the mass wedding ceremonies orchestrated by a religious group lead by a self-proclaimed messiah, such as Reverend Sun Myung Moon[1]
In fact the assault on higher learning began in 1993 when TPLF/EPRDF fired 42 seasoned academics from Addis Ababa University and replaced them with its loyal cadres.[2] Ever since then the ruling group has continued to destroy higher learning under the guise of ‘expanding’ education. Universities and educational institutions in general are places where students are taught how to think, instead of what to think. Furthermore, universities are places in which curious learners are provided with the tools and the support to conduct research that has practical values in the social, economic, and political life of the society. Instead, the regime has built political re-education camps[3]where political cadres have the final word on the academic, social, and administrative life of an institution.
Indeed merit and qualification has never been TPLF/EPRDF’s s strong suit. Starting from senior cabinet positions to all the way to the lowest level of the administrative body they have appointed their cadres to run the country, and, quite frankly, the regime is not going to treat universities in any different way.
‘Massification’ of higher learning in Ethiopia, preferring quantity of graduates to quality, has reached a critical stage, and it is becoming very problematic to use the term ‘university’ to describe these diploma mills. In TPLF/EPRDF’s Ethiopia every institution is forced to be subordinate to the twisted ideology of the regime. The first and foremost pillar of a university anywhere in the world is autonomy and academic freedom. These two elements are the oxygen of a free learning and teaching environment. Contrary to this the ruling group maintains full control over these institutions depriving them the oxygen of freedom they desperately need to breath and function freely.
Maintaining its well-established destructive role TPLF/EPRDF is moulding higher learning institutions in its own image, and the image is not pretty. Infused with ugly and hate filled propaganda, the image of these so-called universities looks like this: (a) all of these institutions must maintain perceived or real ethnic polarization and tension;
(b) These institution must serve to promote TPLF/EPRDF’s divisive agenda; (c) all ‘university’ senior management, including presidents, must be members of the TPLF or TPLF manufactured political organizations; (d) critical thinking and questioning the prevailing orthodoxy equals terrorism; and (e) university campus informants are part and parcel of the security and surveillance structure of the regime.
The overall decline of the quality of higher learning in Ethiopia is evident in the African and world university rankings.  Currently, according to the African Economist University Rankings, only one university out of 35 so-called universities in Ethiopia appears on the ranking chart.[4] The rest are nowhere to be seen on any of university rankings.
We have come to be accustomed with TPLF/EPRDF lies, such us tyranny is democracy, repression is freedom, concentration of wealth in the hands of its inner circle is economic growth and development. The most tragic one is their political re-education camp ‘universities’.
Finally, one cannot understand the sad state of higher education in Ethiopia without understanding TPLF/EPRDF’s distractive political and economic agenda. Ultimately, these daunting challenges are intertwined and interconnected, therefore they only can find a solution when the fundamentals of the governance parameters are addressed.  Freedom, justice, and democratic accountability are the only solution. In the meantime, those who are enrolled in these institutions should continue to demand better quality as part of their struggle for a free, just, and democratic society.
The writer could be reached at [email protected]


  1. Are you telling me the University was good during amhara era (Menilike era
    and Haileselassie Era) ? ? ? ? ? you must be brain dead or partially retard.
    If that is the case then how come those who got their education from the university of addis during the Amhara era times never found a solution to Ethiopias socioeconomic mess for the past 50 years ? the truth is the instituton was designed by incompetent unqualified amara men and they had failed themselves and failed the entire society, that is why Ethiopia was in total socioeconomic mess for the past 100 years during the amara era.

  2. APARTHEID in Ethiopia
    Definition of APARTHEID
    racial segregation; specifically : a former policy of segregation and
    political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in
    the Republic of South Africa
    apartheid, ( Afrikaans: “apartness”) policy that governed relations
    between South Africa’s white minority and nonwhite majority and
    sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic
    discrimination against nonwhites. The implementation of apartheid,
    often called “separate development” since the 1960s, was made possible
    through the Population Registration Act of 1950, which classified all
    South Africans as either Bantu (all black Africans), Coloured (those
    of mixed race), or white. A fourth category—Asian (Indian and
    Pakistani)—was later added.
    APARTHEID in Ethiopia: racial segregation; policy of segregation
    since 1991 once TPLF(Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front )- Woyane took
    the power by GUN from the DERG regime it is official political,
    economic and academic discrimination against non-Tigrayan Ethiopian
    peoples who are homeless at home. Mekelle institute of technology (MIT) established by TPLF/Woyane. It has advanced and highly equipped laboratories with highly qualified professors. It is the first and the only university in Ethiopia in
    which ethnicity is the main and fundamental criteria to get admission.
    Tigrayans are the only eligible ethnic group to attend class in MIT.
    Is there Apartheid more than this?

  3. Fellow readers, must learn the history of tplf/woyane and eplf/shabiya from the very start their main agendo is to destroy Ethiopia for ones. They did not occupy to develop the country. The problem is that the Ethiopians never understand or even try to remember the nature these bloody bandas. Try to find out ther manifesto from 1968 and 1976, european c . Theirmifesto was to turn Amharas and Oromos against each other……destroy each other………..So to speak about university is worthless.
    If Ethiopians want to survive, the Amharas and Oromos must get united and get rid of the bloody bandas, otherwise the Oromos and Amharas will be finished, NO Ethiopia. No Oromos and Amharas.

    Thanks to EPRDF! The universities and colleges were not limited to Showa Amara region only, unlike the Amara era- today we have universities and colleges in every Non amhara regions.

    Since Menilike era, the Amhara dominated governments had systematically discriminated against non amhara Ethiopians been excluded and denied higher education to Oromos,Tigrians,Sidamas,Gambellas etc…., today education is open to all Ethiopians regardless of region or religion.
    * EPRDF built university to GONDER.
    *EPRDF built university to WOLLEGA.
    *EPRDF built University to SIDAMA.
    *EPRDF built University to TIGRAYE.
    *EPRDF built University to GOJAM.
    *EPRDF built University to HARRAR.
    EPRDF built Colleges to GAMBELLA.
    In the past the Amhara dominated governments had evil master planne to monopolize and restrict higher learning to its own minority tribe (Amhara tribe) only, today Ethiopia is in better place, regardless of tribe every child in Ethiopia have equal opportunity and access to education.
    May God Bless Ethiopia !!

  6. The Ethiopian education system is not one of the best in the world. The Ethiopian government has done fantastic job in laying down the foundation for higher education. Ethiopia is a poor countries and the institutions of the country most of the time reflect this reality. Ethiopia’s education given the countries economic status is not as bad as it was stated on the article. Ethiopia’s higher education development, compared to before is getting better. If we compare the Ethiopian education system to the world’s well develop institutions, Ethiopia has a long way to go. Most importantly, realizing where Ethiopia’s higher education system in relation to best institutions in the world is very important to improve the standard of higher education in Ethiopia. We can politicize any kind of effort by the ruling party if the politicization helps the opposing group to inform the public the missteps of the ruling party. However, pragmatic criticism will help the opposing party as well as the public if it is done correctly. In your critic Commend efforts made and goals achieved, isolate shortcomings in the effort and criticize, finally suggest the best solution if you are the party doing the job. I think the Ethiopian people sees the opposition camp as a part of the problem not the solution when it comes to democracy because this opposition use militant approach of to social, economical, and political problems.

  7. Can you imagine ?
    Can you imagine, had the unthinking hateful Amara governments in the past had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent annually on guns,tanks and bomber jets to oppress Oromo,to bomb Eritreans and Tigreans were spent on education ?
    By now Ethiopia would have become another America.

  8. Alem Mamo’s observation of the current state of higher education in Ethiopia is factual and correct. I honestly don’t understand how the morons who commented above see the state of the country’s education as an amara, oromo or tigre issue. The truth is, gun touting TPLF thugs and some low life people who care only about filling their stomach have tuned the few higher learning institutions in the country into useless diploma mills … just look at what the cyber cadres write in their comments above.
    Try to find out the academic qualification of current AAU officials and board memebrs, and you will know where we are heading …

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