'; ICES20 at Mekelle University: 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies
Geralta mountains

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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AGAZI Tiumelissan, Independent

The importance of education for both an individual's and a nation's development is indisputable. In Ethiopia, this recognition has translated to decades of strong government focus. Education is also a focus of global concern. Building on the Universal Primary Education MDG, the SDGs aspire to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, whilst reducing inequality within and among countries. At the same time, the education system in the world has been undergoing dynamic changes in the last several decades, in a two-way process interlinked with globalisation. On the one hand, the world’s globalisation is spearheaded by economic forces, technological innovation and education. On the other hand, the education system has to respond to the demands of globalisation. For instance, the ICT-based knowledge era is leading in the need for students to acquire new skill sets such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, as highlighted in the '21st Century education’ initiative, in turn requiring a system centred on the student, rather than the conventional teacher-centred approach. There is also this view of global education, which sees the function of education as preparing global citizens with a strong emphasis on interconnectedness and interdependence. This paper will explore the extent to which these global education trends are reflected in Ethiopia at two levels. Firstly, the paper will consider the intentions of Ethiopian policymakers towards preparing the students to the globalizing world, as well as challenges they face in doing so, such as lagging infrastructural development, regional and other disparities, and the need to address other development priorities. Secondly, the paper will consider the experience of students, teachers, schools and communities in four rural communities of Ethiopia. It will explore the extent to which these global education trends and the Ethiopian government’s policy intentions are felt at their level, and their perceptions of the value of education as they experience it, in equipping them for the life they aspire to. The paper will also offer some reflections on the prospects, given current trends at the national level and in these four communities, of reaching the goal of an inclusive, equitable, quality education for all.