Friday, June 14, 2024
NewsEducation Ministry to overhaul “biased” honorary degree conferral procedures

Education Ministry to overhaul “biased” honorary degree conferral procedures

Minister Berhanu Nega (Prof.) suspends conferrals

The Ministry of Education is set to overhaul the procedures for the awarding of honorary degrees by higher education institutions under its purview with officials looking to introduce transparency and fairness in conferrals.

Heads of the Ministry say growing concerns over the “disproportionate allocation of honorary degrees to individuals from specific regions” and the need for a more equitable selection process are behind the decision.

Minister Berhanu Nega (Prof.) has underscored the importance of transparency in bestowing honorary degrees, emphasizing the commitment from his office to addressing biases or inconsistencies in the current system.

The conferral of honorary degrees will be temporarily suspended until rigorous procedures are established.

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The move comes following extensive discussions within higher education institutions in Ethiopia, where academics and professors have voiced concerns about the lack of accountability and standardization in conferring honorary degrees.

In a discussion hosted by Ethiopian Academy of Sciences on April 4, 2024, Masresha Fetene (Prof.) of Addis Ababa University, highlighted the prevalence of ethnic and political biases in the decision-making process, calling for urgent reforms to ensure fairness and integrity.

Masresha and other stakeholders want to see the Ministry develop clear guidelines for universities to follow in granting honorary degrees, focusing on the significant contributions and impact on society made by potential recipients.

“The guidelines aim to establish frameworks that promote meritocracy and guard against favoritism or nepotism in the selection process,” Maresha said.

Discussions during another recent forum shed light on broader issues surrounding academic titles in Ethiopia, with calls for proper recognition and certification of titles such as Assistant Professor and Associate Professor.

Participants emphasized the need to distinguish between honorary titles and formal academic qualifications to uphold the integrity of the academic profession.

In response to these concerns and recommendations, Minister Berhanu has taken decisive action to suspend the conferral of honorary degrees until stringent procedures are in place “to ensure fairness and transparency.”

The Education Ministry is now tasked with developing comprehensive guidelines in the form of a directive that aligns with international best practices and uphold the principles of meritocracy and integrity, according to its heads.

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