The Revolutions Shall be Televised… on Plasma TVs?
Yeah. Sounds about right.
But another interesting story he’s picked up on reminded me of a conversation I had with two ex-professors a while back.
The Education Media Agency (EMA) has approved the screening of the 18th World Cup at 450 schools across the country that have plasma screen televisions.
450 schools have plasma TVs?
The EMA has 8,000 plasma screens that have been set up in 450 schools across the country. The Ethiopian government purchased plasma televisions as a cost of a quarter of a billion Birr with the intention of conducting uniform courses at schools throughout the country.
8,000! Is that a typo? Seriously? Quarter of a billion birr? That’s a typo.
Sources at the EMA told Fortune that the Agency would continue to provide educational screenings on the eight channels that are available to it.
“It is trying to work out a way that all of the games will be screened without affecting the schoolwork of the children,” said the source.
Well, as long as it is trying.
A few months ago I was at a gathering (where I had another encounter with that older gentleman who insists upon pointing at me in public settings and screaming, “You! Weichegud! You! That is Weichegud!” with both fury and contempt… but let’s not go there…) where I started chatting with a couple of science types who gave up academia for lucrative Silicon Valley jobs- one Ethiopian, one ferenjie. They were lamenting the decline of the great
Well, apparently the level of scholarship has so significantly declined at AAU that they can’t seem to get the same quality students from
Woah. They’re teaching university students through plasma TVS, too?
Here’s the fascinating quote in the Addis Fortune story:
the intention of conducting uniform courses at schools throughout the country.
Has there been a more anti-education government in
Emperor Haile Selassie gave up his palace so that the first university could be established in
Well, we know the rest of the story. And apparently so do the people in the EPRDF who rose against the Emperor with their cliff notes of Das Capital and anything Lenin’s evil mind concocted.
A little history:
In April 1993, the government dismissed 40 professors from AAU. They were deemed too critical of the government, and you know how Marxists feel about dissent.
Among the dismissed were some of the most brilliant minds
Essential and not easily replaceable faculty were dismissed, including experienced faculty in engineering, medicine, economics, international relations, and linguistics--indeed, five of the University's only eleven full professors. The dismissees included Dr. Tamire Hawando, the University's only soil scientist; Dr. Admassu Gebeyehu, its only specialist in water resources; Ato Ayele Tarekegn, its only trained archaeologist; Dr. Makonnen Bishaw, its only medical anthropologist; and Dr. Taddesse Beyene, who managed the Permanent Secretariat for the International Conference on Ethiopian Studies.
Also dismissed was Professor Ayenew Ejigou, head of AAU's Statistics Department, an incredible mind and a great man.
In the meantime, the EPRDF continued to harass the Ethiopian Teacher’s
He was, he says, shackled in solitary confinement, confined to a fetid cell with five other prisoners, disallowed to talk to his lawyer in private and permitted to see his family for only 30 minutes once a week.
Dr. Taye, interestedly, was charged and convicted of creating a new political party, the Ethiopian National Patriotic Front,
in order to destabilise public order. The government blames the front for a bomb attack on an American government agency the US Agency for International Development, and for the attempted kidnap of a number of foreign diplomats.
Hmm. Sound familiar?
In fact, the Ethiopian government has had a tempestuous relationship with the ETA. According to Amnesty International:
The ETA has been engaged in a 13-year court struggle to preserve its existence and independence, and has been under threat from a pro-government organisation of the same name, which the Ministry of Justice (which controls NGO registration) had formally recognized, although it had not banned the original ETA. The original ETA head office in
new court decision.
In May 1997, according to HRW, “Assefa Maru, acting director of the ETA, was gunned down by police. No proper investigation of the killing has ensued.”
Things were not just bad in Addis, and God only knows how many students and teachers in other parts of
October 2000 — Oromo students protested the move of the capital of Oromia state from
December 2000 — Police responded violently to students protesting living conditions at
“… jobless youths in the capital used the student protests as an excuse to vent their own frustrations on the government, which this month is celebrating its 10th anniversary in power.”
BBC, April 21, 2001:
Most have been taken to a police camp in the
In a building near the back of the compound, students could be seen trying to look out, but guards prevented them from shouting or opening windows.
Some made signals to their parents suggesting that they were hungry, by putting their hands to their mouths. Mothers screamed on seeing this.
The students paid a price for having dared speak out.
However, as I waited outside Sendafa to meet officials, police appeared to force about 1,000 students to run barefoot around a stony pitch during a heavy downpour.
Yeah, I know. The Ethiopian government’s defense: hey, at least we had the decency not to kill all of them.
Actually, this is what officials said:
"It is hard for us to distinguish who was where because of all the chaos, so we had to arrest all of those suspected," said one official.
"We hope to release those who are innocent in the coming three to four days, but it may take longer depending on our investigations," he added.
Truly, it’s a fara takeover of all things related to habeas corpus.
Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam and Dr. Berhanu Nega were rounded up and sent to prison, charged with “inciting” the university uprising.
Any of this starting to sound familiar?
In May/June, a group of non-Ethiopian academicians wrote to the foreign embassies in
The sadness is often mixed with anger, even scorn, like when Harold Marcus (who is known for his outspokenness) exclaims: “I remain astounded by the absurdities engineered by this government, especially as it is headed by somebody who lived through the madness of the Derg years and last few years of Haile Selassie. Why does nobody in
Through its base and unconstitutional treatment of human rights organizations, academic associations, students, and faculty, the FDRE has brought disgrace upon itself and tarnished the record of
(Read the entire document.)
In April 2002, after a year’s strike, the students returned to AAU. They had dropped all their demands.
So this is roughly the background that helps explain the plasma TVs. I remember when the Derg started determining what students would major in… the outrage we felt. Well…
The Ethiopian government prefers plasma TV education because videotapes don’t talk back. So what if students can’t keep up or lose that teacher-student bond? Teachers possessed unquestioned authority in the
This, among similar acts of splendiferous mediocrity, shall be the EPRDF’s legacy. To think that people died for it because they believed it stood for a better
The Ethiopian government has long enjoyed substantial international backing in spite of its human rights record. Eager to support Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, one of a generation of promising so-called new African leaders who came to power in the early 1990s in the wake of years of devastating armed conflict, the international community has been reluctant to criticize many of his government’s human rights abuses. Foreign powers including the
Human Rights Watch.
But the EPRDF knows. It knows the power of education; most importantly, it knows the power of under educating a whole generation. Ethiopian children are being used as guinea pigs while the government is praised by the likes of Ishac Diwan and Jeffrey Sachs as being committed to reducing poverty.
By now it is obvious that the world won’t come to
SaveNega.org provides guidelines on how to be involved.
It is our responsibility to tell the story.
Some of us have been made heroes by
the government, not that we intended to
be heroes. And we have paid for it. . . .
Seeing this, the public is scared. Even
our friends are scared to talk to us. You
can see how this affects freedom of
speech! . . . [The government] should
know better, having gone through the
same thing before themselves [when the
TPLF started as a student movement].
— Professor who was summarily fired in