The Status and Challenges of Ethiopian Higher Education System and its Contribution to Development
The importance of educating people to ensure a country’s continuous competitiveness and sustainable development is unquestionable. Expanding and reforming higher education and research in Ethiopia will contribute to significantly alleviating problems of suffering from relatively slow social and political progress, and becoming increasingly marginalized in the world economy. It will put the country in a sustainable path to development and improvement of the livelihood of the population. Higher education is no longer a luxury but essential for survival in the global knowledge–based era. Several studies and reports from many parts of the world show that there exists a positive correlation between increasing higher education access and economic growth, as expressed by increasing per capita income and/or human development index (HDI). Investment in human resource development improves technology-driven productivity gains, thereby having a contribution to improving the currently low HDI which stands around 0.359 in 2004. Ethiopian higher education is relatively young. With its gross enrolment ratio of about 1.5% and student population of 125-150 per 100,000 inhabitants, its contribution to the development and competitiveness of the country is limited. It needs to (re)focus on four central missions in order to be relevant and be active participant in the country’s socio-economic development efforts. Expansion and reform to meet the demand of the growing economy is stipulated in the several policies and strategies of the country and the higher education capacity building program of the country. This provides an opportunity and increasingly requires higher education institutions to sustain and further the emerging responsive and proactive stance towards addressing the needs of the country and the people by producing competent graduates and undertaking relevant research and studies.