The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Japan should invest in Ethiopia’s educational development

Japan should invest in Ethiopia’s educational development

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Kennedy Library at the University of Addis Ababa
Kennedy Library at the University of Addis Ababa


The government of Japan supports many noble projects throughout the world and the outcome of this economic support is that many foreign nationals benefit immensely.  However, it is abundantly clear that the Ethiopian government is heavily focused on the educational sector unlike many national governments which either squander economic aid or do not maximize joint initiatives with international donors.  Therefore, given the size of the population of Ethiopia and the geopolitical importance of this nation, added to the responsible government under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi; then Japan should do more to assist the government of Ethiopia.

The government of Ethiopia under the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took over a nation which had been blighted by the Mengistu regime and the infrastructure was in crisis and the future of Ethiopia looked bleak.  However, the EPRDF is clearly focused on developing the infrastructure of Ethiopia and this applies to all ethnic and religious groups because the EPRDF is represented throughout the nation.

Therefore, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the EPRDF have implemented many educational reforms in order to focus on equality, future development, and enabling the people of Ethiopia to aspire to a more prosperous future.  In so doing this, the government continues to spend lavishly on the educational sector and recent statistics clearly amplify the success of this policy.

At the same time the government of Ethiopia focuses on many important vital areas, for example water sanitation, health care facilities, and developing hydro-electricity.  This means that vast resources are needed and the government of Ethiopia is doing its upmost in creating a vibrant future for the people of Ethiopia.

It is therefore essential that wealthy outside nations reward countries which are focused on major development structures in order to enhance the quality of life.  Therefore, with the EPRDF being a responsible government and implementing many reforms in order to escape the terrible legacy of Mengistu; it is essential that outside nations acknowledge this and work with a government which will utilize all economic aid to the full.

Ethiopia does not need “hand outs” but it does need economic partners which share the same ambitions and because of this it is essential that the government of Japan assists where economic aid will be maximized to the full.  Also, Japan should do more to expand its “soft power” and just like the British government which is targeting economic aid to where it is really needed, then Japan should follow suit and assist a government with a fine track record in taking people out of poverty and illiteracy.

Japanese universities and cities should also focus on university exchanges and twin cities.  After all, this is a win-win for both sides and this applies to cultural exchange, first-hand knowledge of university life and different teaching methodologies, and opening up to a nation which is rich in traditions and culture, just like Japan is also rich in traditions and culture.

Therefore, university exchanges with universities like Addis Ababa University, Jimma University, Adama University, Mekelle University, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, Bahir Dar University, Graduate School of Telecommunication & Information Technology, and others, with major institutions in Japan would assist in developing greater relations and understanding.  Also, both nations could assist in developing new thinking and ideas and given the uniqueness of Ethiopia and Japan then greater Africa-Asia developments would materialize.

Development Progress ( stated the following about the education system and development in Ethiopia under the current government of Meles Zenawi:

1. Access to education in Ethiopia has improved significantly. Approximately 3 million pupils were in primary school in 1994/95. By 2008/09, primary enrolment had risen to 15.5 million – an increase of over 500%.

2. Progress has been enabled through a sustained government-led effort to reduce poverty and expand the public education system equitably. This has been backed by substantial increases in national education expenditure and aid to the sector, as well as improved planning and implementation capacity at all levels.

3. Increased regional and local autonomy and community participation have also had a key role in expanding access to education across the country.

The statistics speak for themselves and this was achieved despite the legacy of the Mengistu regime and major instability in regional nations like Somalia.  Therefore, Japan needs to expand its “soft power” and to target economic aid and technological assistance to governments which are focused on developing the infrastructure and creating new opportunities for the citizens.

Ethiopia with its track record under Meles Zenawi is a worthy partner because both nations can provide different benefits and assist in creating a world based on mutual respect and cultural awareness.

Japan also needs to expand its “soft power” and this “soft power” should be based on noble causes unlike some nations which try to exploit economic aid by linking it with political motives or other negative aspects. 

Ethiopia and Japan escaped direct foreign control in the past because of the uniqueness of both nations and now it is time for bridges to be built between Asia and Africa which is based on mutual understanding and partnerships.  It is therefore hoped that Japan will focus on assisting Ethiopia’s development and gain from inter-university exchanges, twin cities, and learn from a nation with a rich history and vibrant culture.

Please check the above link for statistics related to Ethiopia and educational development.   (Ethiopia and places of natural beauty)

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