family life
social institutions
traditional skills

culture and customs
food security
justice and crime
social relationships
spiritual beliefs

introducing the area


 quotes about education
 key testimonies featuring education

Education is one of the most recurrent themes and is seen as providing the only way out of poverty now that traditional forms of agriculture are no longer viable: "The uneducated and those who did not send their children to school are leading a life of hardship. Therefore one has to learn very well" (Ethiopia 6). Adult narrators who have acquired literacy skills are proud of their achievements and most are keen that all their children should receive an education (although some are reluctant to let their daughters go to school). The spread of education is also held to be the reason that certain social attitudes, for example those that relegated women to an inferior status, have been undermined.

A number of narrators draw attention to the fact that the interviewers have benefited from education and could not fulfill this role without it. "An uneducated person is like a deaf man or a disabled person. He is no good. Isn't it because you are educated that you are asking me all this?" says one (Ethiopia 16). And another: "Had I not been poor, I wouldn't have kept my children at home. You see, you are interviewing me now because you are educated. Otherwise you would have been as ignorant as I am and you wouldn't have known what to ask me..." (Ethiopia 12).

Feelings about education are less ambivalent than they are in some collections on this website, perhaps because it hasn't yet led to migration on a major scale, and expectations remain high. And yet a few narrators feel, as this one suggests, that something which the old religious education offered has been lost: "In the old days we enquired where the best teacher was found, whether in Gojam or Gonder, and we carried our bags and scrounged pieces of bread; we sewed our own clothes and we roamed from place to place in search of traditional education. Now we have modern schools in our villages and we have expressed our pleasure to the Ministry of Education last time. The present teachers and education are better than the traditional ones. That is why I have sent my three children to school. This education is good for the future generation too. We heard the prophecy that they fly in the sky and they drive on the road - now we are watching it come true. Seeing this I advise everyone to do like me. Still I prefer the traditional, spiritual education because we will all die and our soul needs redemption" (Ethiopia 5). And another, a Muslim, who speaks highly of the advantages of a modern education, still wants his children to have a traditional education first: "I want them to finish the Koranic school first and then I will send them to a modern school" (Ethiopia 9).

quotes about education

"An educated person protects the soil from erosion and the land from usurpers. An uneducated person doesn't even look after the clothes covering his back, let alone protect the soil against being washed away by the floods. It is the educated that can protect Ethiopia."
Mesele, M/55, farmer, Ethiopia 12

"Illiteracy is the same as ignorance. At the time of the Derg (military regime 1974-89) we were urged to attend the literacy schools, but we didn't like the idea of going to school then because we felt it would interfere with our work. Those of us who attended school then know how to write our names. If a school is to be opened here we would attend it and also send our children to class. If adult education is given here, everyone will learn and there will be no one who won't know how to read and write. As long as we are not forced to attend school, nobody will hate the idea of learning again."
Yekaba, F/25, farmer/female head of household, Ethiopia 8

"When there is even one man in a village who is educated everyone tries to follow his example. So the availability of such people motivates others to follow his ways and improve their lives as well as develop their area."
Muliye, M/37, farmer, Ethiopia 15

key testimonies featuring education

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Ayichesh   female/28   head of household   Gala Dejen (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   12   Mesele   male/55   farmer   Jirile (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   13   Mesay   male/28   farmer   Meqerretcha/Denkenna (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   15   Muliye   male/37   farmer   (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   16   Mekonen   male/72   priest   Ganchire Gebriel  
Summary Transcript   19   Yaregal   male/41   farmer trained in beekeeping   Warkaye  
Summary Transcript   20   Melese   male/45   farmer   Denkena,Wodih Mado Mar Feriche (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   21   Mario   male/40   farmer   Filaqit town (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   3   Lemlem   female/67   farmer/ nun   Woina Dega (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   6   Belay   male/18   student priest   Kurrisa (lowlands)  
Summary Transcript   8   Yekaba   female/25   farmer/female head of household   Gala Dejen (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   9   Haji Zekiy   male/57   Qadi (Muslim religious leader)   Tcherqos village (highlands)