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Disputation: Melaku Tesfa Tesema

M.Sc. Melaku Tesfa Tesema at the Centre for Educational Measurements will be defending the thesis "Inequalities in educational outcomes in Ethiopia: An exploration of gender and regional differences based on the national examinations in grades 10 and 12" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

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Trial lecture - time and place

"Equity in education and developing countries"

November 29, 2021, Aud. 3, Helga Engs hus, 10:00. 

Adjudication committee

  • 1st opponent Professor Elaine Unterhalter, University College London, UK
  • 2nd opponent Professor Girma Berhanu, Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden
  • Committee leader Professor Fengshu Liu, University of Oslo

Chair of defence

Professor Ronny Scherer, University of Oslo


  • Professor Johan Braeken, University of Oslo
  • Professor Jan-Eric Gustafsson, University of Oslo


This dissertation provides a thorough discussion of the results from three different empirical studies on inequalities in educational outcomes and equity policy in Ethiopia. Specifically, the studies focus on gender and regional disparities and on how policy measures and educational opportunity impact gender equity in school attainment, enrolment and access in Ethiopia. The analysed data encompassed two full student cohorts participating in the national examination at the end of secondary and preparatory education in Ethiopia.

In gender-region analyses, large regional differences were found. In academic achievement, the central regions outperformed all other regions. Nevertheless, not all the emerging regions were underachievers compared to the more established regions. A large gender gap in general and STEM academic achievement was found even in the central regions, with girls underachieving when compared to boys. However, this gender gap in achievement was less pronounced in the emerging regions. Furthermore, although female students were highly underrepresented at school in the emerging regions, the gender gap in enrolment or eligibility demonstrated more comparable rates in the emerging regions than in the more developed regions. Current affirmative action was not found to have worsened the observed gender inequalities in absolute enrolment numbers by ensuring that similar enrolment rates were achieved within each group for transition to a preparatory programme and, to a lesser extent, to university.

Taken together, the clear regional and gender differences are indicators that Ethiopia is changing and developing at different speeds across the regions and population groups, implying that policymakers should remain attentive to regional and group differences and find smart strategies to deal with these discrepancies. Education for all, in the literal sense, might be one fruitful way forward.

Published Nov. 19, 2021 1:26 PM - Last modified Nov. 22, 2021 11:34 PM