Throughout Oromia, the teaching and learning processes have been interrupted for the last six months, starting November 12, 2015, to May 12, 2016, due to the nationwide #OromoProtests.
For over six months, the Oromo nation was/is mourning the killing of over 500 Oromos, and the unlawful detention of thousands of #OromoProtests participants, mostly students, by the Ethiopian government security forces. Schools and teaching facilities throughout Oromia are still occupied by federal security and military forces.
Now, the Ethiopian government is forcing Oromo students to take and sit for the national examination for which the students never took classes and studied for, without providing makeup classes and tutorials for the lost time.
This is particularly serious since Oromo students will be graded on similar criteria with students from other regions of Ethiopia where the teaching and learning processes were taking place as planned and uninterrupted.
This year, the Ethiopian government is failing the Oromo people on two major national issues. First, it has failed so far to answer any of the demands of the #OromoProtests. And now, it is failing the Oromo students by not providing objective exam at the national level.
Instead, the government is forcing Oromo students to take exams that the government knows that Oromo students were not prepared to take. This is a pure and naked attempt by the government to collectively punish Oromo students, and allow students from other regions to benefit and take advantage of the misery of the Oromo students by increasing their chances of university entrance.
This is nothing other than executing naked vengeance and collective punishment upon the Oromo students and the Oromo people for participating in the nationwide #OromoProtests, the causes the Ethiopian government yet to answer.
Using education, particularly important national examinations, as a tool of political retribution against Oromo students and by extension the Oromo people will entail high economic, political and social costs to this poor and fragile country.
Any reduction in the ratio and the number of Oromo students who will join various Ethiopian Universities in the next academic year due to this obvious and naked injustice upon the Oromo people will only serve as a watershed moment in highlighting Ethiopian government’s war of retribution and collective punishment on the Oromo nation.
The Oromo people will hold the Ethiopian government responsible for any reduction or decrease in the number and ratio of Oromo students entering Ethiopian universities this coming academic year. The government cannot and will not have any excuse or justification to provide for this public and naked injustice if Oromo students are adversely affected.
It should not be lost in the mind of all Ethiopian government officials and development partners to notice the political, economic and social repercussion of these dangerous government actions. Its effect will be very detrimental for the country, and its consequences are lasting.
Oromo students cannot sit for the exam they never took classes and studied for. The Ethiopian government must reasonably extend the exam time, and accommodate the interests of the Oromo students and families by arranging makeup classes and tutorials. The Ethiopian government must withdraw its federal security and military forces from Oromia schools and towns to end the pervasive environment of fear and insecurity that hindered the teaching and learning processes.
The Oromia National Regional government must stand with the Oromo people and defend the interests of the Oromo students instead of sitting passively on the fence and become silent spectators in its own internal matters. We are yet to see a single OPDO official or Oromia office to pronounce itself on this very crucial matter.
The Oromo people and Oromo government employees (both at national and regional levels), teachers, police, security and military officers, in fact, all OPDO cadres who hailed from the Oromo people (there are some who don’t), must actively monitor the situation and assist Oromo students and the Oromo people to collectively defeat this naked injustice.