An Appraisal of the On-Going Literacy Campaign in Ethiopia

The most spectacular development of the postrevolutionary period in Ethiopia is the ongoing effort to tackle the country’s illiteracy problem. The successive campaigns launched since 1974 have reached practically every part of the country. The illiteracy rate has been reduced from 93 percent in 1973 to 29 percent in 1988. This paper examines the special conditions that the revolution created to account for this success. Attention is given to the sacrifices made by the youths of the nation, to the involvement of the people who contributed in cash, kind, and labour, as well as to the commitment of the government to this national undertaking. Attention is also paid to some negative aspects: it has not been possible to cope with the massive financial and material support that the undertaking demands. In many places the basic tools of learning are absent, forcing hundreds of neo-literates to relapse into illiteracy. The wastage has been compounded by the attempt to use as many as 15 vernaculars in literacy classes in which written materials are not ready and trained teachers are not available. But the most serious problem is the determination of the regime to use the campaign as a ‘political weapon in its struggle to tie the population to its policies’. Bibliogr.

Title: An Appraisal of the On-Going Literacy Campaign in Ethiopia
Author: Amare, Germa
Year: 1991
Periodical: Northeast African Studies
Volume: 13
Issue: 2-3
Pages: 69-99
Language: English
Geographic term: Ethiopia
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/43660091
Abstract: The most spectacular development of the postrevolutionary period in Ethiopia is the ongoing effort to tackle the country’s illiteracy problem. The successive campaigns launched since 1974 have reached practically every part of the country. The illiteracy rate has been reduced from 93 percent in 1973 to 29 percent in 1988. This paper examines the special conditions that the revolution created to account for this success. Attention is given to the sacrifices made by the youths of the nation, to the involvement of the people who contributed in cash, kind, and labour, as well as to the commitment of the government to this national undertaking. Attention is also paid to some negative aspects: it has not been possible to cope with the massive financial and material support that the undertaking demands. In many places the basic tools of learning are absent, forcing hundreds of neo-literates to relapse into illiteracy. The wastage has been compounded by the attempt to use as many as 15 vernaculars in literacy classes in which written materials are not ready and trained teachers are not available. But the most serious problem is the determination of the regime to use the campaign as a ‘political weapon in its struggle to tie the population to its policies’. Bibliogr.