No student should die while getting education
By Haile Tessema
Tigrai Online Oct. 8, 2019
Ethnicity based conflicts in Ethiopian universities is not a new phenomenon, but the governments should work harder to end it with swift action.
“No woman should die while giving life” is a virtuous and commendable concept aimed to end maternal and child mortality.
This came to mind seeing how university students in Ethiopia are being subjected to once again needlessly risk their precious lives in order to obtain access to education.
Ethnicity based conflicts in universities is not a new phenomenon. Yet, in the past federal and regional governments had the will and determination to end individual as well as group scuffles with swift action, hence the risk of lost lives in the hands of fellow students and their hooligan partners in crime was much lower.
However, what has become the new normal in universities lately is the tendency for govt. as well as its security and police apparatus to look the other way or join hands with perpetrators when students from an ethnic other are being targeted, attacked, injured and at times killed. But this is unnecessary. All regions in Ethiopia have universities within their own boundaries.
So, until such a time that a political or other practical solution is found, it’d be common sense to place students in universities located in their respective regions. If so, why is that not done?
- Is it based on the imaginary self-deceiving perception of oneness that is unable or unwilling to see the ethnicity based clear and present danger?
- Is it because it further exposes the unhealthy ethnic relations and the house divided image of the country? In that case, the skirmishes, class interruptions, body injuries and deaths do more damage than ethnic / region-based placement ever will.
- Could it be that there are politicians and bureaucrats who want to use universities for their political end, i.e. to play part in exacerbating the political crisis in the country? This could be accomplished by, for instance, attacking Tegaru students in the Amhara Region universities hoping for a tit-for-tat in their Tigraian counterparts.
Whatever the underlying reason may very well be, it’s irrational, irresponsible and cruel for policy and decision makers – who are known for educating their own children in the safety and comfort of Europe, the U.S., Canada, China and Australia – to subject other people’s unarmed children to a what has become like a war zone.
On that note, expecting a solution from the govt. and calling upon it to change its policy and practices is not enough. Rather, university students and their families have to stand on a solid ground not to go or send their children to a risk-area university. And if this means having to lose a one year’s study or more – as difficult as that is to imagine – it could be the best bet under the current circumstances. After all, no education is worth sacrificing one’s life.
Moreover, if fought against in a united and organized manner, governments will have no choice but to listen to strong voices and cave in whereby students will have the right to study where their safety and wellbeing is protected.
For this to happen, political and social activists, political parties and the public at large need to stand behind university students and their families to put pressure on the federal and regional governments.