The role of Ethiopia’s public universities in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

  • 15 October 2016

Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 791–813

Author: Paul O’Keeffe (Social Science Faculty, La Sapienza University of Rome)


In recent years, the Ethiopian government has embarked on an ambitious agriculture development strategy aimed at raising Ethiopia to the status of a middle-income-level country by 2025. Encouraged by the international development push behind the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the rapid expansion of public universities has taken centre stage in facilitating the country’s aim of equipping a new generation with the expertise needed to fuel the country’s economic development. While impressive strides have been made over the last two decades, various development challenges threaten to derail this promising progress. This article examines three of the main challenges – urbanisation, climate change and food security – and the potential for universities to address them. Based on a study using key informant analysis research with 50 experts in Ethiopian education and development, the author concludes that the developing public university system offers promising capabilities to assist the country on its developmental path despite many inherent problems.

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