4 min

By Ayele Addis Ambelu ayeleradio@gmail.com

In Ethiopia, the plight of university teachers has reached a critical juncture, with educators facing dire economic circumstances that threaten not only their livelihoods but also the quality of education in the country. Despite their crucial role in shaping the future through academia, Ethiopian professors find themselves earning wages comparable to daily laborers, painting a grim picture of the challenges they endure on a daily basis.

Dr. Tadele, a PhD holder and professor at an Ethiopian university, sheds light on the harsh reality faced by educators. “We earn a meager $250 per month,” he laments. “Working five days a week, our daily salary barely exceeds $8, equivalent to what a daily laborer earns in Ethiopia.”

Dr. Abebaw, another educator whose name is altered for security reasons, echoes Mr. Tadele’s sentiments. “We often find ourselves teaching on empty stomachs, barely able to afford one meal a day,” he shares.

Compounding their financial woes is the skyrocketing cost of living, particularly housing expenses. Ethiopian professors are forced to seek accommodation in substandard dwellings devoid of basic amenities like electricity and water, situated on the fringes of urban infrastructure.

The disparity between educators’ salaries and those of recent graduates is particularly glaring. “It’s disheartening to see our former students earning five to six times more than us upon graduation,” remarks an assistant professor from Addis Ababa University. “I had to sell my car just to cover my children’s school expenses, relegating myself to relying on public transportation for daily commutes.”

In a desperate bid to supplement their meager incomes, university professors are abandoning academia for more lucrative positions in the private sector. However, this exodus comes at a cost, as high-achieving academics find themselves ill-equipped for the demands of the market, leading to diminished productivity and a loss of talent in the educational sector.

According to Mr. Hailu Guetema, an education analyst, a myriad of challenges contributes to the unresolved crisis facing Ethiopian professors. “Outdated administrative practices, restrictions on academic freedom, political interference, and the co-option of teachers’ associations by vested interests exacerbate the problem,” he explains.

The parallels drawn between the current predicament of educators and the historical role of teachers in instigating change are not lost on observers. The Ethiopian revolution of 1966, driven in part by teachers’ associations, serves as a cautionary tale. Conflict analysts warn that failure to address the grievances of Ethiopian professors could precipitate political unrest and calls for regime change in the country.

As Ethiopian university professors continue to grapple with economic hardship and systemic challenges, the urgency of addressing their plight cannot be overstated. Failure to do so risks not only the erosion of academic standards but also the stability of the nation itself.