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The ‘Knowledge-Intensive Development’ Agenda and Equitable Access to Knowledge: Higher Education in Ethiopia

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In light of the normative assumption of the role of knowledge in economic productivity and in response to strong exogenous policy orientations (mainly from the World Bank), the government of Ethiopia has restructured and expanded the higher education (HE) subsystem since the late 1990s. In critically analysing selected policy documents, this article seeks to understand the seemingly unlinked agendas of strengthening the role of HE in supporting the knowledge-intensive development agenda and the representation of the problem of inequality in access to and success in HE. It has been shown that the economic value of knowledge has been echoed in the reforms of Ethiopia, and that the problem of inequality has been superficially represented just as inequality of access while serious challenges that hinder participation and success of women, non-traditional students and ethnically and regionally disadvantaged groups remain unchallenged. Hence, the analysis indicates that under a situation of unequal opportunity to knowledge, the knowledge-intensive development agenda appears to be empty policy rhetoric.
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Keywords: Ethiopia; World Bank; higher education; inequality of access; knowledge-intensive development; unequal opportunity to knowledge

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • World Studies in Education is a bi-annual, refereed, international journal offering a global overview of significant international and comparative education research. Its focus is on educational reforms and policy affecting institutions in the global economy.
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