Ethiopian Civil Service University

The Problem

Prior to the 1990s, the Ethiopian civil service sector used to suffer from shortage of skilled human resource that can carry out its duties effectively and efficiently. And thus, this condition led the raison d’être of the Ethiopian Civil Service University.

The Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU) mandate include building the capacity of civil servants in general, and formerly disadvantageous groups of people such as females and different ethic groups in particular.

The initiatives that being undertaken by the Ethiopian Civil Service University to fill gender gaps can be exemplary to other institutions.

Issue I:Access to Education for Disadvantaged Female Servants(AEDFCS)

Ethiopia is composed of more than 80 ethnic groups; however, many of them have for long been historically marginalized in the political and socio-economical aspects of the country.

Following the present federal system (since 1991) nations, nationalities and peoples who are living in the regional states of Afar, Beni Shangul Gumz, Gambela and Somali have been identified as the most disadvantaged groups in terms of their political participation, infrastructure and other social service provisions.

Although gender inequality has been the salient feature of Ethiopia in many ways, female civil servants from these marginalized ethnic groups have suffered from double discrimination that makes them the most disadvantaged subgroups of women due to the junction of two discrimination bases- gender and ethnic identity. This situation therefore demands special type of intervention to address gender inequality. As a result, ECSU has put into practice a special admission mechanism that focuses on female civil servants in general,and from the marginalized ethnic groups in particular.
Issue II: Addressing Specific Service Needs of Female Students (ASSNFS)

In 2010, CGAD assessed the challenges of female students of ECSU. Following the research findings, ECSU took immediate actions to enhance the situation. The first challenge of female students was gynaecological service. Since most of female students are adult women and married and with children, reproductive health and pregnancy related matters is one of their priorities. Absence of such service in the University negatively affected them financially – since they had to pay personally; psychologically – if one was pregnant, she would not know what will happen at the time of unexpected incidents; and time wise – searching for health center and waiting to get the service consumed their study time significantly, ultimately impeding their educational success. The second main challenge was unable to use internet service due to the distance of the University’s library from students’ dormitories, and safety problems especially during evenings. As a result, female students, unlike their male counterparts, tended to stay at their dormitories which affected their study and competence negatively.

Issue III: Increasing the Participation of Female Academicians (IPFA)

like in many developing countries, very few women in Ethiopian higher learning institutions are engaged in teaching and research professions. For instance, according to the 2011 FDRE Ministry of Education report, only 10 % of academic staff were females. To redress this wide gender gap, ECSU has designed special intervention mechanism to hire only qualified female candidates, which is new strategy in the country.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Initiative I: The University’s Senate has the mandate to devise special mechanism to support in recruitment and retention of civil servants from disadvantaged regions in general and females in particular. In line with this power, the University has designed alternative admission scheme so as to capacitate formerly marginalized groups such as females and different ethnic groups of people.

Following the decision of the University’s Senate to provide an alternative admission program for female civil servants and from formerly marginalized ethnic groups, 63 women were selected, in collaboration with the Ministry of Federal Affairs, and 52 of them have been admitted to attend in undergraduate program. Moreover, the University had prepared a four-month preparatory program before the regular classes started that aimed at building the capacity of these females and to make them competent with other regular students. The preparatory program focused on providing courses consists of English Language, Basic Mathematics, Study Skills, Basic Computer Skills, and Life Skill (assertiveness and stress management).

Initiative II: Taking extra caution to women’s reproductive health needs, the University hired a gynaecologist; hence, many female students get the service such as regular gynaecological check-up as well as pregnancy and family planning related consultations. With regard to information technology, the University has provided computer and internet accesses to female students around their dormitory so that they can use the service 24 hours without having to travel all the way to the library.

Initiative III: Demonstrating strong commitment to narrow the wide gender gap in higher education teaching position, the University has made vacancies open only for qualified female candidates. Due to this initiative, the percentage of women academic staffs in the University has reached 25%. This is by far more than the national average of less than 10%, according to the 2011 report by the Ministry of Education.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Initiative I: As mentioned above, the ECSU’s senate designed the alternative admission scheme for female civil servants coming from the formerly disadvantaged regional states of Ethiopia. In order to implement this scheme, the University collaborated with then Ministry of Federal Affairs in the selection of female civil servants from four emerging regions. Therefore, this initiative is proposed by the University. The implementation has become possible by the collaboration of ECSU and Ministry of Federal Affairs.

There are different stakeholders in the program. Different departments of ECSU, Ministry of Federal Affairs, Afar, Beni-Shangul Gumuez, Gambela and Somali Regional States, Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, female students themselves are the stakeholders.

Initiative II: This initiative is proposed by Center for Gender and Development as an advisory body for the ECSU’s management on gender and development matters. The University implemented it by hiring a gynaecologist and buying desk top computers and installing networks. The Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs supported the University financially to buy some of the desktop computers. The stakeholders are ECSU, Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, gynaecologist, female students and other.

Initiative III: This initiative was proposed by the University’s top management and was implemented by different bodies of the University. The stakeholders are different departments of ECSU and female applicants.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Initiative I: The main objective of this intervention is to create access to higher education for female civil servants from formerly marginalized ethnic groups and ultimately to enhance their socio-economic and political participation in their respective regional states and national level at large. It was not possible to achieve this objective through the regular admission system; thus, the University Senate approved an alternative admission program as a strategy for this group of female civil servants. The University also decided to prepare a pre-admission capacity building program for selected candidates in order to bring them to equal footing with other regular students. Furthermore, the University has put in place a tutorial program for any course that these female students need support.
The selection of candidates and other financial matters were managed with the help of Ministry of Federal Affairs and their respective regional states.

Initiative II: Since the University has already a general practitioner to provide medical service for the whole student community, having additional gynaecologist needed to be justified to the management committee. Thus, the first strategy was convincing the management committee regarding its value in making female students competent academically and in brining true notion of gender equality in the University. When this aspect successfully accomplished with the help of strong management commitment to gender equality, a gynaecologist was hired. The availability of the service was announced to female students and the service is now being provided at the University clinic.

Initiative III: In order to increase the participation of female academicians, ECSU announced female-only vacancies using electronic and printed media. The University has been successful in this intervention, and the participation of female professionals now stands at 25 per cent. After hiring the female professionals, the University gave them induction trainings. Newly hired staff also took the training which focused on FDRE policies and strategies. These programs have created favourable conditions for females to understand the situation of their country and to align the policies and strategies of their country with their day to day professional carriers.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Initiative I: First, the University’s senate approved the alternative admission scheme for female students from formerly disadvantaged ethnic groups. Second, the top management consulted with the Ministry of Federal Affairs on its practicality. Third, in collaboration with Ministry of Federal Affairs and the four regional states, candidates were selected. Forth, the University admitted 52 female students who passed the University’s entrance examination and the project was communicated to the university community. Fifth, the selected female students attended four month long the pre-admission program. Finally, they registered with other regular students in undergraduate program of the University.

Initiative II: A research was conducted to identify female students’ problems and potential interventions were forwarded. Then, CGAD proposed the two interventions – hiring gynaecologist and provision of computer and internet services around female students’ dormitories to the top management of the university. Third, since ensuring gender equality is the main priority of the University, the top management decided to implement such interventions and female students are now benefiting from the services.

Initiative III: First, identifications of demand for new staff at all Departments and Centers were carried out. Then, discussions were held at department and Senate level regarding ways of filling those positions up with women. Third, after reaching consensus, announcements were made using electronic and printed media emphasizing that the vacancies targeted only female applicants. Then, after the selection and recruitment process were conducted, different induction trainings were given to familiar them with the University so that they know what is expected from them.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Initiative I: Although it is changing now, negative attitude was one challenge. As it is observed in many countries of the world, Ethiopian society is a patriarchal society. Many women therefore considered themselves as incompetent academically. And thus there were female students who hesitated to join in the University for fear of failure. Through consecutive discussions and communications with stakeholders and candidates who took the entrance examination and passed, most of them joined the University.

Initiative II: Since providing reproductive health services to students is non-conventional and new to the University, convincing the health workers of the University’s Clinic and getting additional budget were very challenging. However, due to repetitive discussions and commitment of the top management, the intervention was implemented. With regard to provision of computers, it was serious financial question but getting support from Ministry of Youth, Children and Women Affair made the service available.

Resistance from few clinic staff members was one of the challenges to hire a gynecologist. Because providing reproductive health service was new for the University, few clinic staffs thought reproductive health service provision would have budget implications. This resistance was dealt with through open discussions with stakeholders.

Shortage of financial resource to buy desk top computers was also a challenge.

Initiative III: Hiring female only academic staff was not an idea that got acceptance with all University staff since some considered it as compromising quality, and others questioned the intervention from the perspective of the rights of male applicants. However, there are still ongoing discussions on the need for such interventions gender equality and on the role of the University to be an agent for social transformation setting example for other institutions.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Initiative I: The University deploys financial, technical, human and material resources for the implementation of this initiative. The selection of candidates, preparation of entrance examination, invigilator travel and other accommodation costs, instructor’s fee for delivering preparatory courses and short term trainings, accommodation, tutors fee, are some of the costs covered by the University. Regarding human resources, academic staff is assigned to teach, tutor, train and follow up female student issues. Technically, administrative support units also help the students in many ways. Most of the resources are obtained from the University. But the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs supported financially mainly to cover the portion of tutorial fee and buy some of desk top computers, respectively.

Its key benefit is creating access to higher education for female civil servants who have been historically marginalized and who have suffered from double discrimination due to their gender and ethnic identity.

Initiative II: To address specific needs of female students, human, financial and technical resources have been utilized with support from the University and other stakeholders. The main beneficiaries of this intervention are female students who are following their education.

Initiative III: Hiring only female academic staff and providing capacity building trainings demand the University to spend additional financial resource. The direct beneficiaries of this intervention are women academicians or young women who would like to have academic career but could not get the opportunity because of gender discrimination.
Human financial and technical resources have been utilized. The, professionals hired are the first beneficiaries. Integrating women’s perspectives in the process of knowledge transfer is the other benefit for the students.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Initiative I: Regardless of the diversified nature and demand of students who want to join higher education, higher institutions, at least in Ethiopia, continue to be rigid in their system and admission procedures. However, ECSU has taken the initiative by making its admission system more flexible to accommodate the special demand of most marginalized people such as female civil servants from historically disadvantaged groups.

Since the University has put alternative admission as a system, admitting female civil servants in general and formerly marginalized ethnic groups in particular will continue. The ECSU’s strategic and Balanced Score Cared plans include alternative admission as a strategy of increasing female students’ participation in the University so as to maintain its sustainability.

This intervention can be applicable to other Higher Learning Institutions in Ethiopia as well as, other African Countries.

Initiative II. As literatures mentioned, provision of the same service and infrastructure for men and women is not necessary gender sensitive if it systematically marginalizes women’s specific needs such as gynecological issues.

This initiative will be sustainable. Because, the gynecologist is mentoring and coaching the clinic staff on ways to provide reproductive health services. The university has budgeted financial and other resources for the suitability of the service.
Regarding the Internet services, the desk top computers have already been bought, internet network has already been installed, and IT professionals have already been assigned by the University Thus, system is already has put and it can be as evidence for the sustainability of the service.

Thus, the commitment to ensure gender equality and service provision that is sensitive to women’s needs can be replicable to other Universities in the Country and beyond.

Initiative III: ECSU has long and short term plans regarding the increment of the number of qualified women professionals. In this regard, meeting the UN’s critical mass target, that is 30 per cent and maintaining gender parity (50 %) are the short and long term plans of the University, respectively.

This initiative is new to Ethiopia and other developing countries as far as the available literatures shows. So, this intervention can be replicable to other Universities and high positions of the public sector.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Initiative I: The University believes that this intervention is a success story because it addresses the education demand of the invisible groups of female civil servants that could be benefit due to either gender or ethnic based interventions. The other aspect is that this initiative gives lessons on how to make the system of higher institutions more flexible to accommodate the needs of diverse groups of society to promote inclusive education.

Educating females is educating the society. Especially giving attention for this disadvantageous group of the society is an aspect of social justice and a matter protecting and promoting human rights. So, currently, 52 female students are attending their education. They are so eager and motivated to learn. Though the impact of education can be seen in the long run, giving opportunity for these disadvantaged female civil servants has its own impact to encourage other civil servants who lacked the opportunity to join higher learning institutions. Thus, the University believes that creating flexible educational opportunities for such groups of people can have a multiplying effect to motivate other female civil servants to join in the University.

Initiative II: Since the Cairo Conference, the reproductive rights of women have been recognized as human rights; however, in practical terms, often women specific reproductive health issues are put aside in most developing countries, especially in higher learning institution context. In light of this, ECSU believes that the provision of gynecological services to female students is a success since it shows its strong commitment to gender equality and respect the human rights of women. Availing internet and computer services for female students based on their specific needs has its own role to play by adding value for their academic success.

Initiative III: In some aspects, enhancing the participation of women require taking risks and engaging aggressively. ECSU believes that avoiding gender parity in academia should be immediately addressed since it has strong consequences as epistemic center. Thus, by making the vacancies exclusive for female applicants, the University successfully increases the number of young, competent female academicians far beyond the national average.

ECSU’s intervention in this regard can be taken as exemplary to other public organizations. In addition, increasing the participation of female academicians in the University has its own impact to take women’s concerns, priorities and experiences and knowledge into consideration in the overall activities of the University. Increased number of females’ participation in the academic arena especially in the teaching profession has its own impact to motivate female students by creating role models for successes.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ethiopian Civil Service University
Institution Type:   Academia  
Contact Person:   Hailemichael Aberra Afework
Title:   Dr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   +251 11646 3012
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Postal Code:   5648
City:   Addis Ababa
State/Province:   Addis Ababa
Country:   Ethiopia

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