Cost Sharing in Higher Education in Ethiopia: Demystifying the Myth

Cost Sharing in Higher Education in Ethiopia: Demystifying the Myth,Abebayehu A. Tekleselassie

Cost Sharing in Higher Education in Ethiopia: Demystifying the Myth   (Citations: 3)
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Higher education in Ethiopia began in 1950 with the establishment of the University College of Addis Ababa. In the course of half a century, however, the country's pressing need to expand the sector largely was not met, although some progress has been under way since the mid 1990s. At present, there are six public universities and several small colleges and short-cycle training centers in the country. These were further joined by a couple of private colleges, which were created in the late 1990s, and enroll more than 8300 students or 12.4 percent of higher education enrollment (Zewdu, 2001). Put together, total post secondary enrollments have increased sharply in the past decade, reaching 67,682 or about 1 percent of the age cohort, in 1999-2000 (MOE, 2000). Notwithstanding these current developments, the higher education sector in Ethiopia is still plagued with problems of access, equity, and quality. For many years access has been restricted to only 1 percent of the age cohort, at best. Still worse, this limited access is compounded by regional and gender disparities. Quality in higher education institutions is also declining due to the limited supply of educational inputs. The main problem facing the sector is one of capacity; the inability of public resources to keep up with an ever increasing demand for higher education. No less, the problem is compounded by the lack of aggressive measures to expand the resource base of higher education beyond government funding on the one hand, and to wisely use the limited public subsidy, on the other. The tradition of free higher education, which once was the norm in most African countries (such as Kenya, Uganda), but has since shifted in favor of some user charges, still has its vestiges in Ethiopia. With the exception of pocket money, which was given up in the mid 1970s, higher education in Ethiopia is still practically free, with both living and instructional costs covered by the public purse. The introduction of user charges, it is believed, could expand the capacity of the sector and eventually address some of the major problems that it is currently facing. That said, and despite the government's interest in introducing user charges as outlined in its Education and Training Policy (1994), the implementation of user charges, or cost- sharing is now long overdue. The need for time to plan, garner resources, sensitize the public, carry out research, etc. may be part of the explanation for the delay, although, little seems to have done in these directions, either.
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