By Ibsaa Guutama
25 June 2017
Qubee is Oromo national treasure and pride. It belongs to no group in particular except the Oromo nation. It costed so many lives and involve so many to reach here. Therefore let us make a call to Oromo of all walks of life, from independent or dependent camps, to take stand never to allow others to dictate on the Oromo nation the term of use. If you are calling yourself Oromo, Qubee is your identity that locks you with all the tribes of Bariinto and Boorana. That is a tool of your language, the only factor that saved your name from extinction; when your land was grabbed, your culture and tradition were banned and your history erased only your common language tied you together to save Oromummaa. We have never to forget the challenge our patriots left for us by sacrificing their lives in defending our country, identity, and honor from harm. Because we remember that we went out and engaged in bitter struggle and demonstrated what our country Oromiyaa looks like, for all to know who we are and made sure that our children learn in their own language. However, we did not yet reach our objective goal. We did not get back our country in whole; we are left with severed one. The alien is provoking us all over again from all directions with carrot and stick.
Just recently, when the enemy tried to evict us from our ancestral grounds we rose together, roared with a mighty voice and shocked the enemy. But lacking enough preparation we have retreated for a while. As if that was not enough the adversary is aiming at distorting and destroying the Qubee that we achieved with our sweat and blood. It is testing our solidarity by changing the internationally recognized sequence of Qubee adopted from Latin alphabet. If we leave what we have shaken to strengthen its roots again without uprooting it, it is going to jeopardize our identity and destroy us by turning back our land and our language. Realizing this let us strengthen our protest. The new generation have practically demonstrated that it has cast away the fear their fathers were under and taking humiliation by minority as worse than death and empowered themselves. Let the blood or our elderly, woman and kids be a challenge for us. Finally, justice is on the side of the harmed; if we rise together we can remove even a mountain. Following the writer shall present what is in his memory and existing condition in short.
Ethiopian Education Reminiscence and Present Condition
The importance of education for oppression in Ethiopia was more realized after the Italian occupiers were driven out by the British and the Habashaa came back. Many civil service and judiciary positions were held by expatriates and many more structures had to be laid down; so replacements were needed. Thus curriculum drawn focused on fulfilling that task in the shortest possible time. Education of that period was on higher standard when compared with subsequent periods for it has to satisfy not only the colonizer’s interest but that of imperialists as well. But there were discourses that did not end still as to whom to give access to education and not to give. Then there were open protest from father Nafxanyaas and feudal lords not to send peasant children to school. The present form of protest is sophisticated and clandestine. Anyways, all subjects were taught in English except for Amharic. That gave the youth of the colonies access to government employment and scholarship if they change their non Amaaraa names to Amaaraa. A graduate of elementary school was able of interpreting Amharic into English and vice versa. It started head dive when the medium of instruction in elementary school was changed from English to Amharic in 1962/63 academic year when this writer was elementary school teacher. The teachers were not given orientation to the new curriculum. The students who were mostly from Oromo speaking community did not appreciate it and so not fully receptive. On the other hand, 7th and 8th-grade curriculum remained as they were, teaching all subjects in English.
Students’ elementary English lessons did not prepare the kids for lessons given in English in the next echelon. Thus Oromo children were faced with two difficulties conceptualizing what they have learned in Amharic and facing English with meager knowledge that elementary schools imparted to them. They were these students that became teachers and students of higher learning of the future. They could teach only what they learned and comprehend higher learning with the knowledge they have. Among students, there were those who had the access to extra reading opportunity and inspiration to know more. This time these were the ones that won scholarship domestically and internationally but rarely went back to teaching. At the same time population number was rising. The number of students that register also rose in that proportion. Schools could not cope up with problems of this rising number, classroom sizes, and teaching materials as well as with number of teachers.
In most cases, there were about 100 students in one classroom as reported to this writer in 1991/92. This is way higher than what educators used to advocate for. It is not hard to see difficulties a teacher has in giving and correcting class work and homework that he/she gives daily. Those are no more in the lesson plan of a teacher unless one is pretending. One cannot be able to attend each student’s requirement and know his students by name. Large class size, especially in early grades, can slow student’s understanding of the subject. Students that learned under the same curriculum and failed 12th grade were directly hired as “diggomaa (support”) teachers. The government did not invest to raise teachers and teaching quality. Salaries were low and teachers could not set examples in their dress and in where they go for food and entertainment like olden days. How can a teacher try to improve one’s skills when
one is standing in front of a class physically and mentally worrying about how he could put food on the table for his children this evening? Thus lack of teacher satisfaction and proficiency, lack of enough classroom space, lack of enough teaching materials and overall the desire by rulers to keep their subjects in ignorance mode so that they will not be threats to their power is what contributed to deterioration of the empire’s education system. To improve education of that empire democratic political revolution is required.
Mass promotions of students from class to class had for a long time remained a tool for keeping students off the streets to avoid disturbances. Failed students could have been given attention to raise their level of understanding by makeup classes out of school hours or during vacations rather than creating burden on classes and teachers already in distress. Education is the foundation on which viable society is built. It must be given priority over many other sectors. Increasing enrollment to fulfill UNICEF goal achievement without preparing enough classrooms to accommodate them further helped intentional assault on education. Because education has no quick return to enrich totalitarian coffers it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Nobody knows how much of the multimillion acquired from US is pocketed by authorities for they do nothing for humanitarian cause unless it benefitted individual bureaucrats. This project was also used as an excuse to attack on Oromo drive for freedom and empowerment. Let us hope Oromo educators involved is this realize their folly and withdraw from the campaign wedged against the survival of their nation before national curse fall on them. They have to realize that distorting or destroying Qubee amounts to destroying their identity as well
All above-mentioned defects contributed to the decadent system of education in Ethiopian Empire. Sequence of Qubee or Fidel is not to blame. The present commotions and denials are not caused by the desire to improve on “early grade reading” but to weaken and then destroy Qubee. No one has the authority to meddle with nature of the Qubee except the Oromo people. It was by more than hundred years of struggle and rivers of blood of their compatriots that they achieved it. Qubee is based on long-standing Latin alphabet used for many languages in the world. Afaan Oromo started to be written in Latin no later than the 19th century. Works of Ceruli Enrico, Tutschek and Ludwig Krapf can be cited. A group of Oromo students in Germany with coordination by Haayilee Fidaa composed grammar book for Oromo language and published it under the name “Hirmaata Dubbii” in Latin alphabet. Underground Oromoo movement informed its members that the late student Mitikuu Tarfaasaa was sent from home for the purpose. All Latin users up to then tried to form different shapes for “dh, c, ny, ph, and sh” sounds. The final and present form as almost used in English was adopted by Oromo Liberation Front in the field of struggle. It has been found to be the easiest for anybody that wants to learn afaan Oromo.
Ethiopia is a fake Federation, but let us accept what they call themselves and assume it is a federation. So Oromiyaa is a member of the Federation. It has its own language, culture, history, and tradition. This could develop only through education. If so they have to control their own curriculum. If alien control their educational development it only serves the purpose of only that alien. And the Federation boils down to be a unitary state under the guise of federal one. Problem what enraged the Qubee generation is generated by such flagrant abuse by the governing dominant party, in particular, the TPLF. Its policy of land grab had invited the unprecedented protest by the Oromo people of all ages led by the Qubee Generation in 2015 and 2016. Instead of giving response to their demands it declared emergency law in
October 2016 which was extended in March 2017 on expiry of the first. Ethiopia had been under another undeclared military rule since 1991; now only that is exposed.
Many causes for protest are in store waiting to explode at any time. The new colonial government has tried to hoodwink the world and the naïve by proclaiming a constitution pretending to be democratic. Because big powers have vested interest to be protected by such totalitarians they are overlooking all the lootings and genocide TPLF is committing. But those affected can no more pass the abuse in silence, without challenges. Now Wayyaanee is coming against Oromo near to heart achievement, the Qubee. Its present meddling in Oromo affairs has no reason what so ever; if not provocation to entice them into violent uprising. By it TPLF will get the opportunity to cull many brilliant minds that survived the last slaughter. It may win the battle, not the war.
Emperor’s Sector Review and Mangistuu’s grand Amharic project for higher education were part of the discourse as to who to teach mentioned above. Both projects were meant to retain Oromummaa in darkness and forces the Oromo remain backward. English was equally foreign for Oromo and all others and no one will have an undue advantage in learning it. But still, Habashaa children had better access to books and other teaching materials. They changed English as a medium of instruction and introduced Amharic in its place. Now those who neither speak nor hear Amharic words sit in the same class to learn the same lesson. They were to use the same strategy for higher education had the Darg not crumbled.
In seventh grade, the language of instruction remained English. It was just like learning from the scratch. After many are dropped out the better weaklings go to high school. The dropouts from 12th grade were hired directly; in that way, incompetence gets recycled. Those that passed 12th grade but cannot go for diploma course join comprehensive teacher training; the knowledge of those is not far off from the dropouts. The defects do not affect the rulers and the affluent members of society for they send their children to best private schools and abroad. Since education of the poor was knowingly disabled, the question of teachers’ proficiency will not be raised. It is with that knowledge that a teacher could be assigned four five subjects outside one's competence. Classrooms meant for not more than forty students are obliged to hold up to hundred pupils. In such suffocating classrooms, there are little children and elderly teachers that can easily collapse. The ridiculous change in Qubee structure is to intentionally avoid solving the above-mentioned glaring problems and add more explosives to the near crumbling education system. Oromo kids are brilliant; with their qubee if everything they need is made available for them, there will be no way to hold them down. That is frightening the adversary making it to take measures in frenzy. This could be their last desperate act to eradicate Oromummaa with all its symbols. They should know that that could boomerang and harm them too. The Oromo have shown in clear terms that they can no more tolerate domination from any quarter. It is only when the education of Oromiyaa is controlled by Oromiyaans that the nation overcomes the problem in “Early Grade Reading” and beyond. With our sweat and blood, we shall defend the gains we so far registered. Long Live Free and independent Oromiyaa!
Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty, equality, and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our forefathers!