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University Graduation, 1969
Wednesday, July 16, 1969
 
The Lion of Judah has prevailed
Haile Selassie I, Elect of God
King of Kings of Ethiopia


Realising that it is through education and trained intelligence that knowledge can be acquired for a better life, We have been endeavouring all Our life to give Our people the heritage of education. Today, We are gratified to see the continuing development of Our country on the occasion of awarding degrees, diplomas and certificates to the graduating class of the University We founded; and for this We thank the Almighty.

It was with the help of God that We overcame many and diversified national and international adversities, when We took up the heavy responsibility of guiding Our beloved country. Even for those who participated in Our work and were close observers of it, it is not easy to remember everything that has been accomplished since then.

Before facing the problem of social transformation, We took the establishment of schools as Our primary task, so as to make the children of the country improve themselves and serve their country better by being armed with knowledge. We knew the indispensability of freedom, of keeping intact the national unity and independence handed down to us by our fathers, of freeing the people from ignorance, and making them able to defend themselves from alien intriguing hands and improving their own living standards, and We were also aware of the necessity of modern education to further these goals.

In order to have the administration of Our country follow modern lines, We gave the first written Constitution. Under this Constitution, Our people participated in the heavy task of keeping and defending our history and unity.

Let us remember the struggle our country had to defend herself against outside invaders, who had encircled her and blocked her doors, keeping her isolated from the rest of the world and thus detached from modern civilization. We should never underestimate the magnitude of our struggle to overcome direct aggressive intervention from outside and the national reconstructing and rebuilding that had to be done to make up for the ugly results of war. Women and men united to follow Our leadership in overcoming those difficult years of trial. And while We were laying the foundation of Our country's peace and order and organizing the governmental structure, We also successfully retrieved through political struggle part of Our own territory which had been taken away from Us.

As Crown Prince, when We made Our first trip to Europe, We did all We could to establish close relationships with the outside world. One of our actions was to secure places in various schools to enable young Ethiopians to pursue their education abroad, so that they might observe foreign governments and choose what could be best applied to the modern administration of their own country.

What is more gratifying than to see the fruits of Our past endeavours, to expand the frontiers of modernisation in Our country in all its aspects, and in particular the growth and development of education - the basis of all progress?

We remember that there was a time when We met many difficulties in trying to impress upon parents the use of education, begging them to send their children to school. To this end Our efforts were not in vain. Those who managed to go to school then, and their followers later, have to this day demonstrated the usefulness of education by setting an example through their dedicated services to their country. When Our people first hurried towards their schools, no one could predict the changes that are taking place today - that so many children, and indeed their parents, too, would crowd to enter the gates.

Because of Our firm belief in the education of Our people, as a unifying force, as a means towards better living conditions and moral standards, as a means of training competent individuals, We feel that, today, the country's overall progress and development is moving in the right direction under the leadership of educated Ethiopians.

The advance made by Our people has justified the revision of the Constitution which We promulgated thirteen years ago, thus opening the second chapter in Our country's development and growth.

The Revised Constitution has provided a source of law for effective results in Our governmental structures, and such legislation as the civil, penal and maritime codes and their corresponding executive processes.

Based on the principles of democracy, which ensure human rights and are necessary for a modern government, the framework of the state is separated into three branches of government - the Legislative, Judicial and Executive - for effective results and allocation of responsibilities.

The Legislative Body, composed of the deputies and senators of the Houses of Parliament, have the right, as stated in the Constitution, to discuss and pass any law, tax, loan, international treaties. They should realize that this heavy responsibility demands careful evaluation, assessment and far-sightedness.

The Judicial Body, too, being that branch which ensures the rights of each individual and enforces justice and equity, carries heavy responsibility.

The Executive is that part which enforces all law, decrees and proclamations legislated. It plans and executes development projects, exercises direction of international relations and political affairs, directs under its responsibility the methods to ensure the integrity, freedom and well-being of the nation.

Laws previously issued served their course, and experience was drawn from them, for they provided wisdom to bring about the changes and improvements required by time. Effecting such changes to cope with the demands of the day, we have now reached a stage whereby the system clearly defines collective responsibility of ministers. Every citizen - including each one of you here - bears responsibility in matters relating to national problems.

The various organizations which form the framework of the country's progress have themselves been improved in their work. The industries established in many parts of the country have contributed towards raising the standard of living of Our people and increasing the national income. They also provide a springboard for future improvements. Since a balanced development can only be achieved through planning, the Third Five-Year Plan is now launched with all the wisdom derived from the experience of the First and Second Five-Year Plans.

Our national defence system, our search for peace, progress and integrity, must be based on modern military science and technology. As for our relations with our far and near neighbours, We have formulated a policy which has already ensured friendly relations and technical aid and loans for the internal national development of the country. Our prominent role in Africa's intercontinental development co-operation and the struggle against colonialism has also put Ethiopia in a prominent position.

But it was not without sacrifice or struggle that there is so much improvement and change in the fields of education, health, agriculture, industry, commerce, administration and community development of the country. The era of sacrifice and struggle was also the period of isolation. We lacked then almost all the generous technical aid and loans that we are getting now.

All that was achieved then was the result of the limited resources and manpower that were at our disposal. But We never thought for a moment that what was accomplished was satisfactory. Anyone can see that our journey on the road of progress is indeed long. However, realizing the indispensability of skilled manpower to accelerate our rate of progress We have given top priority to education. And this, partially fulfilled, has produced well-trained and highly-educated administrative personnel in high positions, for Our Government's administration.

This, however, is still only the beginning and has not yet come anywhere near the desired target. There is much to be expected of you who are graduating here, before you arrive at the projected goal. What our country needs now is an increase in the supply of trained and skilled manpower, men of professional integrity. Students, the sources of improvement and engines of development in the world of work, should realize that, in return for the tremendous expenditure put into their education, the faith and trust reposed in them should be fully justified.

Your action after graduation, and the action of those who will step into your places, is the main yardstick by which We measure Our progress.

As We have repeatedly told you, the degrees, diplomas and certificates We are giving you today do not signify the completion of your education, but only show that, after a period of schooling, you are considered to be prepared to put what you have studied into practice.

Though the translation of formal education into practice is in itself one aspect of education, it is also the scale by which the achievement of each one of you can be judged. There is always room for improvement and change, and your ability to manipulate these for the good of our country should also give proof of education. We all hope that your efforts in the future will be successful. It is when you are active participants, seeing the problems of our country from the inside, each striving for solution to them, that you can best prove yourselves.

Co-operation and co-ordination are prerequisites in the struggle for development. The problems of our country cannot be tackled only by economists or educationalists or public health experts, working independently of one another, but by co-operating, co-ordinating and supplementing others' efforts, you can meet with success and be happy that you are setting out on a new chapter in the history of progress.

All our people must study and participate in the task so as to be able to help you and others like you.

Your present achievement, which started from almost nothing, is evidence of how education can be expanded with the resources and manpower we have.

Had Our desire matched with Our resources and manpower, Our most cherished hope was to give to all school-age children of the country the opportunity to learn by opening schools in each and every part of the Empire. But the keeping of the health of Our people, the construction of roads, the responsibility of defending our borders and administering the country are also Our tasks; the expansion of education, though Our primary concern, could not advance to the extent We would like it to spread. Nevertheless, though we have these different responsibilities, it must be known that We have always given priority to education. We have now established a National Commission for Education, under the auspices of our Prime Minister.

It is evident that it requires time and money to develop educational institutions. Most of the money spent on education goes for buildings, staff salary and books. It needs university trained experts to train teachers at all levels, to prepare teaching books adapted to Ethiopia and to make buildings. This is one of the purposes of this University. The eighteen-year period required to educate you is clear evidence of the fact that it needs time and money before we crop experts enough to satisfy our need. Education implies responsibility, and since in the near future you will be in positions of leadership, We have made it a point to bring home to you that responsibility. Others who are to follow in your footsteps must also realize it.

To understand the over-all problems of the country and to take constructive and honest measures to help her is essential not only to you graduates and students of the University but also to the academic staff. Lack of responsibility, destructiveness and over and above all lawlessness, it must be known, will not be tolerated.

What policies must Our University follow to discharge its responsibilities? When We established this University We intended that the courses and manner of presentation should be directed to discover and enrich the economic, social and political life of the country. Different universities have different ends to realize. However, there is no place for a university which fails to realize the needs and problems of the people and government it is established to serve. A university such as ours in particular must investigate the problems of the country and try to discover ways and means of solving them.

To that end the graduates, the students and the faculty, can work co-operatively with appropriate authorities in the spirit of public service. And it is their duty. If the faculty and the students of this University, in co-operation with other development organizations, fail to find solutions to satisfy the country's needs, the University is a city built on sand.

In particular, the University must participate in various development projects in operation under the country's Five-Year Plan, and those that are underway need experts in science and technology. To increase the number of students trained in this stream, the University has recommended that the percentage be raised to 60%, and hopes to continue to follow the same pattern. Realizing that this intensification of the science-technology stream should also be at high-school level, our Minister of Education has studied the situation and has started vocational training at some schools. This programme not only helps the individual who takes part in it but also guarantees skilled labour for the many development projects. Though it is Our wish to see as many trained in these vocational fields as possible, the plan involves great expense and many university-trained teachers in the fields. Due to the shortage of university-trained teachers vocational training cannot yet be developed to match the need. Realizing this, the University now trains teachers for vocational high schools. The programme will develop in the future.

We are pleased to see this day, when the University is to graduate with degrees over seventy teachers. In graduating so many the achievement of the Faculty of Education should be appreciated. This reduces the country's great shortage of teachers, due to which we have had to employ high-school teachers from other countries. The many problems incurred in employing these foreign teachers cannot pass without note. We can only hope to overcome these problems when students graduating from the high schools join the teaching profession. There are amongst you graduating today those who come to Addis Ababa from various provinces under the Bede Mariam School programme. Remember the enthusiasm with which you joined the programmes six years ago, and carry education to the provinces awaiting your services.

We would like to remind University students and staff of their responsibility to Ethiopia in their behaviour. True, this University, like many other fortunate universities, enjoys academic freedom. However, unless it exercises this freedom within the limits of the law, it has failed to recognize its responsibilities.

We would like also to remind you students and teachers that your manners and actions must also show that you have enjoyed a university education. If in word and deed you are to show your education, We would hope that you prove yourselves a good example to the people. As We said earlier, whether in Ethiopia or elsewhere, a university is a high institution, but unless its members show behaviour worthy of their education, they are failing in their responsibilities. There should be no place at the Haile Selassie I University for a teacher or a student who wants to exploit the good name of the University. We call on you therefore to show that you are worthy of your University, for by so doing you will legitimately be a source of pride to yourselves, your parents, staff and country.

As you know, the rationale behind freedom of thoughts, of expression, of teaching and writing in a university is that the scholar who has made lifetime research in his own field is likely to produce balanced and well-thought-out ideas. And that is proper. It may be said too that this is the nature of a university. Certain members of the Faculty should, however, seriously consider the damaging consequences of engaging in activity alien to their profession under cover of the University. This statement should not give rise to the misconception that a university teacher may not exercise the civil rights enjoyed by all citizens. He may. But he must realize that as a responsible member of society he cannot pass the limits of the law.

We take this opportunity to thank those who have rendered their service through teaching; We are deeply grateful also to the various governments and private institutions who have extended us aid in money and personnel.

Finally, We congratulate all of you who have with patience, self-discipline and diligence completed your University studies. We call on you individually to make yourself a good example by answering the call of your country anywhere you are required, for the country is in every part yours.


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