Paradigms, Challenges and Prospects of History Education in Ethiopia Since the Early 20th Century

Forschungsarbeit, 2022

26 Seiten, Note: 12+1



Part I Introduction
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Ethiopian History Education Evolution
1.3 Paradigms of History Education
1.3.1 History Education in Ethiopia (1908-1960's)
1.3.2 History Education in Ethiopia (1960's-now)

Part-II Challenges of History Education in Ethiopia
2.1 Disciplinary Challenges of History Education in Ethiopia
2.2 Challenges of History Education during the Imperial Regimes
2.3 Challenges of History education during the Derg regime
2.4 Challenges of History Education since 1991

Part-III Prospects of History Education in Ethiopia
3.1 Prospect of History education during the imperial regime
3.2 Prospects for History Education during the Derg Regime
3.3 History education prospects since 1991



Unpublished Sources

Published Sources

Books and articles

Part I Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to study the paradigms, challenges, and prospects of history education in Ethiopia since the early 20th century. The reason why I chose the early 20th century is that it was the landmark for launching modern education in Ethiopia in general and history education in particular. To construct this paper from a historical point of view, I rigorously read the scholarly research books, journals, articles, theses, and other significant historical materials concerning the issue.

Therefore, I attempted to clarify, the evolution of history education in Ethiopia, the paradigm shifts that history has undergone through the passage of time, and the major challenges and prospects of history education in Ethiopia in the past three regimes. Generally, the paper has been organized into three parts, and each part has topics and sub-topics. Therefore, the preliminary segment of the paper elucidates the background of the study, the paradigms of history education in Ethiopia, the disciplinary challenges of history education, and the evolution of history education in Ethiopia, whereas the second part deals with the challenges of history education in Ethiopia since the early 20th century, and the last part emphasizes the prospects that history education has come across since the early 20th century.

1.1 Background of the study

There is no doubt that Ethiopia is the only East African country that has a unique alphabet, a long tradition of traditional education, and an indigenous calendar. That is why the history of Ethiopian education can be traced back to the 4th century A.D.1 To study the paradigms, challenges, and prospects of history education, knowing the historical development of modern education in Ethiopia is mandatory. Generally, until the end of the 19th century, the Ethiopian Orthodox at large and Islamic education almost monopolized the nation's education.2

There was an attempt by Catholic missionaries to establish modern schools aiming to teach languages and sciences in the 1820s, but due to the strong opposition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the dream of the Catholics was not fruitful. The church contends that the Catholic missionaries feared the conversion of Ethiopians to Catholicism.3 Almost a century later, the nation introduced modern and secular education in the early 20th century during the reign of Menelik II in 1908.4

It was during the era of Emperor Haile Selassie I that history became one discipline for both primary and secondary education students.5 In the first four decades of imperial regime, Ethiopian history was taught side by side with other European languages such as French, English, and Italian. The secret of teaching these languages was mysterious, but they might have convinced the king as they are international tongues.6 The interference of the Italians, the British, and the USA in the educational affairs of Ethiopia during the imperial regime left an impact on the history of Ethiopia's education. Bahru also further explained that from 1950-1960, education was part of the point-four agreement signed between Ethiopia and the USA.7

The establishment of secondary schools in Addis Ababa gradually forced the imperial regime to inaugurate the University College of Addis Ababa (UCAA) in 1950.8 Eleven years later, it was known as Haile Selassie I University. By the same year, with the great contributions and sacrifices of Professor Pankhurst, Dr. Sergew Hable Sellassie, Professor Harold Marcus, and Sven Rubenson, the department of history was officially opened. This was another prospect of the development of history education in Ethiopia.9

The work of travelers and foreigners played a significant role in the opening of the department of history in the second half of the 20th century. Tadesse Tamirat, a leading historian, acknowledged the works of Conti Rossini and Ullendorff as the foundations that helped him construct the book "church and state". No doubt, the work of Tadesse alleviates the scarcity of sources of medieval history, which is one theme in Ethiopian history education.10

However, since 1974, the socialist regime has come up with a new educational policy that has also been influenced by the Marxist-Leninist ideology.11 The political philosophy of the Derg harmed the history education of the country because there was an attempt to use history as a tool to hasten the ideological shift from capitalism to socialism. Unlike the Derg regime, history education during the imperial regime, with its limitations, focuses on the making of Ethiopia.12 In 1994, the EPRDF government also drafted a new educational and training policy that placed less emphasis on history education than previous regimes.13

1.2 Ethiopian History Education Evolution

As many sources depict, the genesis of education in Ethiopia is traced back to the era of Aksumite civilization following the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century.14 The church and Islamic education played a role in alleviating the deficiency of knowledge in Ethiopia.15 Therefore, the above religious institutions played a pivotal role in forming the foundation of the present modern systems of education in Ethiopia.16 On the contrary, Alemayehu Bishaw argued that the long­standing existence of traditional education in Ethiopia slowed the track of Ethiopian modern education. But traditional education in Ethiopia has become the rock-bed for the beginning of modern education in the country.17

Of course, when the first secular school was opened by Menelik II in 1908, there were some disagreements between the emperor and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which feared losing its long-lasting monopoly on state education.18 The clergymen were against modern education to continue the status and supremacy of the church over the nation. The imperial government, on the other hand, attempted to persuade church officials that modern education was necessary to facilitate diplomacy and sovereignty.19 With its controversy, no force stopped the king from establishing a modern school in Ethiopia.20

Three years before the official opening of the modern school in 1908, Menelik II opened a school for noble sons inside the palace. In this school, the noble sons taught subjects such as calligraphy, religion, Ethiopian history, law, and Geez. Ethiopian history was part of the palace school before it was part of the modern educational curriculum of Ethiopia. Of course, the first modern school of Menelik II didn't include history as one of the disciplines. It has been part of the school's discipline or instruction since the School of Teferi Mekonnen opened in 1925.21 In its full range, history became a subject of school instruction after 1943.22

Generally, the Ethiopian curriculum from 1908 to 1936 gave greater emphasis to languages. Because the curriculum offers languages such as Arabic, French, Italian, English, Geez, and Amharic, as well as mathematics, law, and calligraphy, they were offered as additional courses.23 All the courses given in Menelik II secondary schools were again continued in this newly opened school by Teferi Mekonnen.24

From 1936 to 1941, the education sector of the country was under Italian influence. In the post liberation period, the British greatly influenced the medium of instruction and the evaluation system.25 Under the influence of the British government, in 1947, the imperial regime drafted a 10-year education plan that would take students through the first six years of primary school, the second six years of secondary school, and the remaining four years at higher institutions. It was called the 6:6:4 plan. In 1949, the primary level was extended to include 7, and 8. This was the turning point at which history became one of the courses offered both at primary and secondary levels of education in Ethiopia, and history became part of the national exam in 1949.26

Until the overthrow of the imperial regime in 1974, the direct involvement of Italians, British, and Americans in Ethiopia's education system and history education was visible. However, since 1974, the socialist regime has come up with its own educational policy, which has also been influenced by the Marxist-Leninist ideology. The EPRDF government also drafted a new educational and training policy in 1994, which is very different from the policies of former regimes.27

1.3 Paradigms of History Education

Globally, the beginning of history education as an academic discipline was traced back to the 19th century by the greatest contribution of a German historian, Leopold von Ranke. For the first time, it became a full-time profession in European universities and American universities eventually. During the first formative periods, political narratives were the common feature of the discipline. Gradually, the political narratives, or the so-called Rankean traditions, were changed into analytical descriptions by broadening the areas of investigation to include the social and economic aspects of human beings.


1 Eyasu Gemechu, Aweke Shishigu, and Et al, “Reforms of Teacher education in Ethiopian: a historical analysis” Research Journal of Educational Science, Vol. 5(2), (February 2017), p-1.

2 Abebaw Yirga Adamu and Randi R0nning Balsvik, “Students' Participation in and Contribution to Political and Social Change in Ethiopia”, Youth in a Globalizing World, Volume 06, (Brill, 2017), pp-265-266.

3 Mordechai Abir, “Education and National Unity in Ethiopia”, African Affair, Vol. 69, No. 274, (1970), p-47.

4 Shoeb Ahmad, “Teacher education in Ethiopia: Growth and Development”, African Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 3, No. 3 (2013), p-4.

5 Ibid, p-4; Mordechai Abir, p-47.

6 Tamiru Olana, “Students' and Teachers' use of English as the medium of instruction in Nekemte town Grade 9 History and Geography classes: oral interaction in focus”, (Foreign language and literature, MA thesis, AAU, 2013), p-3.

7 Bahru Zewde, A History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1991. (AAU Press, 2002), p-184.

8 Shoeb Ahmad; Mordechai Abir, p-47.

9 Tsegaye Tegenu, “Sven Rubenson (1921-2013)” International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 & 2 (Tsehai Publishers, 2014), pp-187-189.

10 Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p-9.

11 Solomon Melese and Aschale Tadege, “The Ethiopian curriculum development and implementation vis-a-vis Schwab's signs of crisis in the field of the curriculum , (Tyler and Francis Group,2019), p-3; Belay Sitotaw and Melaku Masresha, “Education Quality Challenges in Ethiopian Secondary Schools” Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science 31(2): (2019), p-3-4.

12 Alebachew Kemiso, “changes and continuity in history curriculum: An assessment of themes and perspectives in Ethiopian history courses at AAU (1961-2006)”, (AAU, Department of History, 2009), pp-59-64.

13 Solomon Melese and Aschale Tadege, p-3; Belay Sitotaw and Melaku Masresha , p-3-4.

14 Eyasu Gemechu, Aweke Shishigu and Et al, p-1.

15 Solomon Melese and Aschale Tadege, p-2.

16 Alebachew Kemiso, p-13.

17 Bezabih Wondimu, “An overview of Ethiopian Education System, Curriculum, Curriculum Development Processes, and its Historical Trends and Patterns: A Review), Historical Research Letter Vol.50, (2019), p-3.

18 Ibid, p-15.

19 Esayas and Awoke, p-2.

20 Richard Pankhurst, “Education in Ethiopia during the Italian Fascist Occupation (1936-1941)”, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 5, No. 3, (1972), p-361.

21 Alebachew Kemiso, p-15.

22 Abebe Fisseha, “An investigation of History Teaching in Ethiopian Senior Secondary School: Historical Perspectives and Current Status”,(AAU, MA in education, 1992), p-87.

23 Alemayehu Bishaw, “Education in Ethiopia: Past, Present and Future Prospects”, African Nebula, Issue 5, (Texas USA, 2012,), p-54.

24 Ibid - 54 .

25 Solomon Melese and Aschale Tadege, p-3.

26 Alebachew, p-17.

27 Solomon Melese and Aschale Tadege, p-3; Belay Sitotaw and Melaku Masresha, p-3-4.

Ende der Leseprobe aus 26 Seiten


Paradigms, Challenges and Prospects of History Education in Ethiopia Since the Early 20th Century
Bahir Dar University  (Bahir Dar university)
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paradigms, challenges, prospects, history, education
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PhD candidate in History Edcation Ageru Shume (Autor:in), 2022, Paradigms, Challenges and Prospects of History Education in Ethiopia Since the Early 20th Century, München, GRIN Verlag,


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