Higher Education in Pre-Revolution Ethiopia: Relevance and Academic Freedom


  • Amare Asgedom Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies


This paper presents the history of Ethiopian higher education (HE) before the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution. By giving a historical account, it concluded that the then Haile Selassie I University was dependent on Western models in its staffing, curriculum, duration, timing, philosophy and ideology. It combined the American experience of a research university, which itself borrowed from the Girman idealism of the Humbolditan University that favoured a combination of teaching and research. The absence of a graduate program, and the Newmansque ethic of a teaching method, characterized by the philosophy of cultivating the cognitive domain of the learner with what they call the disputation techniques of critiquing and debating, in the context of an environment characterized by values of monarchy and autocracy, lack of tolerance and the rule of law, the Addis Ababa University destroyed itself as a result of a context produced by the disharmony of the alien culture with the indigenous one. It had completely missed the disharmonizing discourses of the West and the East and was swallowed in a political turmoil that had still made it difficult to get ride of. Academic freedom, teacher or institutional autonomy did not help in a context characterized by limited local or national capabilities (Sen, 2001).