The state of democracy is relative. Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister once said, “Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in the world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all worst.”
Churchill’s idea was that the plain, humble common man, just, the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time and puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to parliament that he is the foundation of democracy. And it is also essential to this foundation that this man or woman should do this without fear and without any form of intimidation or victimization. According to Churchill, if that is democracy, he salutes it and works for it.
Here at home, since the downfall of the former dictatorial military regime and despite internal as well as external provocations and conspiracies, Ethiopia continues to maintain peace, stability and embark on civilized norms and values of democratization, good governance and sustainable development even though those norms and values take long time to be fully implemented. From the very outset, the Ethiopian government formulated a constitution that guarantees equality of all nations, nationalities and peoples of the country. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, expression in all aspects, ways and means. There are different independent newspapers with variety of views within the country expressing different social, economic and political views and addressing different issues. Also, there are different political parties operating with different political agendas in Ethiopia.
During the last elections, many international observers including the renowned Carter Center and over thirty-five thousand domestic observers declared that the elections were free, fair and democratic. Democratic nations follow rather strictly, only democratic and legal ways and means to resolve problems that may arise during social or political disagreements and this was the trend that should be followed by some opposition party members to resolve problem arising from the recent unfavorable demonstrations and disturbances in some areas of our nation. However, some extremist leadership wanted to destroy every peaceful democratic gain of the Ethiopian people thus far by choosing violent ways and means instead of peaceful dialogue for achieving their objective i.e. to grasp power by every means including through violence and anarchy. Further, some extremist leadership have made their number one priority to try to convince the international community that there is no democracy in Ethiopia or that the government is reversing the democratic process in Ethiopia and therefore the international community should penalize the country by denying economic assistance etc. The current government fought rigorously for the prevalence, maintenance and development of peace, democracy and human rights in this country. These rights that are entrenched in and guaranteed by the constitution are reinforced on a daily basis because democratic rights, human rights protection and respect for the dignity of the Ethiopian people is the number one priority of this government and will continue to be so in the future.
The government of Ethiopia will make sure that democracy, good governance and sustainable development are its number one priority. Also, international assistance and cooperation in that regard is imperative, rather indispensable to guarantee these fundamental mechanisms of human rights protection. Therefore, international governmental as well as non-governmental institutions alike must continue their assistance in that regard in order to reinforce those civilized values they have cherished. As in any law abiding government, the Ethiopian government has the responsibility of securing law and order in order to protect its citizens from violent activities and of bringing those culprits to justice. That is exactly what the government has done against few extremists. The government has also given amnesty to many offenders to help them learn from their mistakes and be responsible citizens. This is what is called due process of the law of the land.
An excellent example of such a phenomenon is the decision taken by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn to voluntarily and without any pressure to resign from the highest post of the land i.e. from the post of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and from his post as a leader of his own party. Such a bold, courageous and wise decision is simply unprecedented and unheard of and it is truly historic. It is indeed exemplary not only to the democratic process underway in Ethiopia but also to the whole continent of Africa as well. This shows that there is no turning back on democracy in Ethiopia because the country is on the right track in that regard.
On the other hand however, those who want to grasp power by any means including through violence are very busy in lobbying and in knocking at every governmental and non –governmental doors in order to mislead the international community on the current Ethiopian democratic process. They say among other things that democracy is going backwards in Ethiopia, the government is turning more and more to dictatorship and that there are no human rights that opposition parties are under arrest simply for political reasons etc. The reality however is that Ethiopia has continued to embark on what it firmly believes in i.e. on democratization, good governance, on poverty alleviation and on sustainable development because these are again matters of survival and not matters of choice to the public at large. Therefore, the country will continue to advance following the right trend. Therefore, the international community should not be mislead by few self serving hard core opposition parties who by and large been remnants of the previous dictatorial regime and whose intensions are to bring back the old archaic and dictatorial system. The Ethiopian people suffered enormously under the former brutal military regime for a very long time and do not have the intention to go back to that old system anymore because they have had enough. There is no turning back on those hard fought values and norms. No one should have any doubt on that and most importantly, no one must be misled by few opposition propagandists form within and the Diaspora. Therefore, it is important that governmental and non-governmental organizations alike build confidence on the democratic process flourishing in Ethiopia and continue their cooperation and collaboration in order to further reinforce peace, stability and good governance in the country.
BY YOHANNESGEBRESELLASIE (PH.D)
For more than a couple and half decades, Ethiopia has been experiencing great achievements in the education sector. Because of huge investment in the sector, a surprising exponential growth has been more vivid in both Technical and Vocational Education and Training as well as general education.
For instance, besides ensuring adequate access and equity at primary level, a rapid expansion of secondary education is expected to support the ongoing growth. And the number of both public and private higher education institutions has grown to more than a hundred and forty from almost none. Tens of thousands of capable graduates joined work world to support the intended development. This massive expansion in the sector is considered to accelerate the country’s transition from a low-income economy with substantial subsistence agriculture to a lower-middle-income economy with an increased share of commercial agriculture, as well as growing industrial and service sectors.
Unfortunately, some people seem to fail to accept the reality on the ground. They argue that the investment is not wise; due to massification, quality has tragically been declined. Without conducting any research on the matter, those people rush to such assertion in view of the inverse proportion might exist between quantity (number of intake) and the quality. As a result, they could not realize the strong necessity for the nation to invest in access and equity and the possibility of interweaving both quality and quantity.
On the contrary, the enormous socioeconomic achievements the nation has been registering for more than a decade unmistakably witnessed that huge investment of the government in the education sector is a prudent decision. Since education sector serves as basic for other sectors, the success achieved in the economy can indirectly be attributed to it. The double digit economic growth that made the nation one of the fast developing nations in the world has direct correlation with the education sector. As a result, it is impossible to deny this prudent investment in the sector; it is proper to praise it instead.
Moreover, the expansion of higher education has brought several benefits to the citizens. First, education changes lives, in ways that are often not fully understood. It can help one to live a longer and healthier life. It also equips the citizens to approach health or any life style on a rational and well informed decision. This has resulted in considerably improved life expectancy of the citizens.
Second, the society has become well aware of the value of education in social and personal development. Because of the globalization, the flow of information (knowledge) around the globe is becoming so powerful to the extent that we cannot withstand its influence. In order to save the young generation from the impacts of the consequences macro-culture that is being exported worldwide, the government has ensured access and equity for all in order to equip the youth.
Third, the expansion has also encouraged unity in diversity. The landscape of ignoring diversity has been removed due to the roles of the higher institution. The young people at the universities are well aware that Ethiopia is multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural nation. This results in harmonious relations among the citizens and is an opportunity for development. For the universities are accommodating diversities, they are creating high potential resources for further researches.
Lastly, the universities are moving to the society and provide community service. The leadership is familiar with the language and culture of the respective__ community; thus, the members of the society can go to the university to ask for help whenever necessary and the president can talk to them in their language which develops sense ownership among the members of the society.
In short, nation’s investment in education has brought exceeding abundant fruits the citizens have been enjoying. Though focusing on access and equity, it has become possible to sustain quality. In order to prepare well skilled human power that supports the intended development, pursuing the prudent investment in education sector is a conscious decision. It is pretty evident that this enables the nation to realize the vision of middle-income society
ADDIS ABABA- The Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples' State Education Bureau said that the school feeding program has reduced dropouts and improved teaching learning process as well.
The Bureau Head Dr.Eshetu Kebede told The Ethiopia Herald that due to natural disaster and household food insecurity,the rate of learning interruption and the number of school dropouts were high ,however, ever since the beginning of school feeding ,the mentioned problems have been drastically reduced,he added.
According to him, the school feeding program mainly focuses on pre and elementary schools found in drought prone areas and climatically fragile places as most school dropouts have been registered there.
“There are 6,790 schools in the state and those schools that are highly vulnerable are categorized in four stages . In each school day ,all students will get 150 gram food for once.”
According to the head,the nutritional and health aspects of the food provided to the students is supervised by the health bureau because their cognitive development is highly attached to what they eat.
Eshetu also said the school feeding program has brought good opportunity to farmers as they are the ones who are providing food to school.
More importantly, farmers unions supply processed food and this by itself has created opportunities for the emergence of food and beverage industries,he noted.
It was learnt that World Food Program, the state bureaus of Agriculture and Natural Resources,Health,Water, Irrigation and Energy as well as Disaster and Drought Prevention Authority have been involving actively in such program. Currently 107,000 students benefit from the program in 47 schools.
BY ABEBE WOLDE GIORGIS
ADDIS ABABA- The Ethiopian Kidney Association called on fellow women to carry out a usual kidney diagnosis as they are more vulnerable to various kidney infections than men.
The Association President Dr. Lissane Seifu told The Ethiopia Herald that globally ten of percent women are at risk of contracting Kidney diseases and this number would rise in developing countries like Ethiopia.
He said the association conducts kidney test and awareness rising campaigns on World Kidney Day which is coincided with International Women’s Day.
Explaining why the campaign focuses on women, he said: “They are more likely to suffer from kidney impairment and related diseases because of pregnancy, lupus, and other typical diseases that affect women’s health.”
He also underscored that:“ Because of the lack of awareness, many women come to medical centers having inflicted great damages on their kidneys .”
Dr. Lissane indicated the serious kidney disease would be turned into chronic one and cause death.
“ As kidney disease is one the the silent killers,we need to work aggressively on awareness creation activities in this end.”
Particularly , every expectant mother need to have kidney test frequently,he said adding that people with diabetics, hypertensive, overweight individuals and those with family history of kidney and aforementioned diseases have to do the same.
Pointing out some of symptoms that women with kidney disease experiences, he said menstrual irregularities, sexual dysfunction, depression and infertility.
Despite the fact that kidney is severe health problem, Dr Lissane said: “One can easily prevent it by controlling his lifestyle and dietary.” For example; one can prevent kidney disease taking regular control of sugar level and pressure of blood, controlling weight, avoiding smoking, reducing salt and alcohol intake , eating fruits and vegetable and doing regular physical exercise and the like, he added.
BY YOSEF KETEMA
ADDIS ABABA- Panelists said in the efforts of upholding gender equality, fighting biased traditional norms against women’s right and dignity is a must .
Speaking at the panel discussion organized by Ethiopian Academy of Science, one of the panelists and Gender Activist Dr. Sihin Tefera said the nation needs to do a lot towards the fight against gender inequity through creating gender sensitive society.
For her part ,Dr. Ewnet Gebrehana from Black Lion Hospital, said : “We also have to combat inexhaustibly against some of norms that negatively affect the reproductive health of women such as women’s deprivation of deciding on number of children, early marriage and the like.
She also called on the public to sustain and promote the well established norms that are practiced for the betterment of women like taking good care for pregnant woman .“People show great respect and care to pregnant and those women who carry baby on their back while using public transport and other services at various public areas. Moreover, such women will refrain from any kinds of domestic work.”
During the panel ,Senior Gender Researcher and Activist Zenebewerk Taddesse stressed that some social norms have been affecting women’s life such as persistence of early marriage and denial of deciding on who should be their marriage partner.
Another Gender Activist Bilen Sahlu also noted that sever gender based violations are being committed due to the negative social norms .
As a way forward ,the panelists outlined ensuring equal access to education and health care services, creating decent employment opportunities, enhancing women's roles in decision making in every issue related to their lives apart from promoting best social norms.
BY YOSEF KETEMA
The number of higher education institutions has reached more than a hundred and forty from almost none due to nation’s relentless investment in education . Some people argue that this surprising exponential growth will have a negative impact on the quality of education whereas the government believes quality in education can be ensured along with expansion.
Ethiopian Private Higher Education and TVET Institutions’ Association and Admas University President Dr. Molla Tsegay considers government’s heavy investment in education as a right and astonishing move.
He also says expanding the sector enables everyone to hold the key for change and development .“ As far as my concern ,over a quarter of the population of the nation strives to quench their education thirst seizing the golden educational opportunities in the country.”
Responding to whether education quality is being affected or not in parallel with higher education expansion , he notes that the nation has to conduct research in this end. “ It is impossible to talk about education quality without having adequate education institutions,this is because the primary focus of the government has to be on access and equity,” he adds.
Concerning the possible challenges on ensuring education quality , Dr. Molla indicates that the expansion of higher education would induce such concern as they become competent enough through times
For Addis Ababa University Assistant Professor Dr. Firdissa Jabessa , focusing on access and equity may have a challenge on the quality of education. “Though the government has been hugely investing in expanding education aimed at realizing the intended development drive , quality might be compromised.” He reiterates that there is a possibility of compromising quality due to high intake.
The Institute of Educational Research (IER) leading researcher at Addis Ababa University Prof. Derebsa Dufera for his part says : “We cannot deny the possible impact of fast higher education expansion on the quality of education, but it is not proper to conclude without carrying out timely researches.
“Unlike the assertion some people try to make, we should realize that we have well equipped graduates with the necessary skills. The quality of our graduates is evident in the socioec onomic development the nation registered in the last two decades. But in order to deduce whether quality is rising or declining, conducting research is a wise decision,” he concluded.
BY WAKUMA KUDAMA
The nation's hospitality and tourism is one of the promising industry sectors particularly in creating immense employment opportunities. But,some investors claimed that the nation has not tapped into this potential for various reasons yet.
For example, the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) aspires to earn six billion USD from hotel and tourism industries attracting 2.1 million tourists to Ethiopia by 2020. Therefore, expanding tourist destinations and promotion activities as well as looking for solicitations and funding opportunities for the tourism development and cultural and natural heritage protection and preservation are the priorities in this regard.
Konjit Ayele, a member of Ethiopian Diaspora community, engages in hospitality industry. She says: “This country’s history spans over 3,000 years and has huge and magnificent cultural, linguistic, religious and natural tourist attractions. But, the hotels that are functioning enough are insignificant when compared to an influx of tourists to the country.”
She, hence, agrees completely with those who call for unleashing the tourism potentials of the country.
She says : “ Look, these-days tourism conference is rapidly growing worldwide including here in Addis. But, imagine that the influx of tourists for such purpose will get bigger and bigger taking into accounts our capital being the home of many international organizations. Do we have now the capacity to host grand conferences and events using the available hotel infrastructure in the country ? I do not think so.”
For Getahun Hotel Managing Director Lily Getahun, to succeed in hospitality and tourism industries , someone needs good promotion, better market and exposure. “As it is one of the emerging sectors in the country, you expect tough competition in running hotel and tourism businesses. The sector also needs well-qualified and devoted management and employees.”
As to her, many workers join the hospitality industry every year, however, many of them are incompetent . For instance, when the senior staff get promotion , newcomers need to be hired with a view to filling open position . But, due to labor scarcity and lack of seasoned hoteliers ,those who are promoted are forced to do two more jobs at once, she adds.
In truth, some capable hospitality and tourism graduates often complain about the qualifications on a job application as most hoteliers wish to recruit experienced workers.
Asked whether the complain is based on fact or not, Lily says : “ Our hotel often employ fresh graduates and job training will be offered to them in due course. But other five- star hotels don't want to employ fresh graduates because the service needs more experienced ones.”
She also says customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry is a must and so it needs very welcoming workers plus the professional knowledge and experiences.
As there are about 20 colleges and 30 universities which offer trainings to students in hospitality and tourism , thousands graduate annually and join the labor market.
For Konjit , graduating thousands annually is not good enough for the ever growing demand of hospitality workers “ When the seniors are promoted, the new ones have to be employed and most fresh graduates have earned certificates, diplomas or degrees in food and beverage studies ,therefore, the ever increasing standardized restaurants will take over the graduates .”
Currently, over 130 standardized hotels are found here in the capital and its environs.
Regarding the roles of hotels in creating market chain to the agricultural sector, Konjit notes that the nation has immense potentials in this end, but the products should be produced qualitatively.
BY ABEBE WOLDE GIORGIS