Cultural Politics and Education in Ethiopia: A Search for a Viable Indigenous Legend

  •  Mohammed Girma    


The history of modern education in Ethiopian is short. What is not so short, however, is the history of traditional education, temehert. It goes back as far as the introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia – fourth century EC. Since its inception, education had a close, if ambivalent, relationship with different ideological tenets, and each tenet trying to formulate its educational philosophy around its own unique narrative. While some narratives arose from indigenous legend, others are imported (and domesticated in some cases) from abroad. In this essay, I do not intend to discuss educational policies per se. I, however, intend to show how a deliberate, or unwitting, de-link with indigenous legend would affect the trajectory, and also the success, in educational system in Ethiopia. After a brief paradigmatic characterization of two ideologies and their underlying narratives, I will critically unravel the ethno-federalism educational philosophy of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its undergirding ethnic legends. I focus on ethno-federalist system because it is an incumbent philosophy. After discussing a nascent remedy proposed by MaimireMennasemay, vis,.the notion of tezeta, I intend to argue for the primacy of the notion of qal-kidan as a better alternative. I will base my argument on the cultural prevalence, but also conceptual credibility.

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