|Haile Selassie I University - 1st Graduation Exercises|
Jul. 12, 1962
|... Academic freedom, unless it conforms to the common good of the society in which it is |
expected to be exercised, is meaningless ....
|In as much as your country has provided you with this special opportunity, you are duty-bound,
upon your graduation, to devote all your knowledge to the betterment of your motherland. What
is expected of you is not academic achievement alone. In fact, as it is at the expense of the
government that you have been educated, what is expected from you is commensurate with the
extent of your knowledge. Education is not an end in itself, but an aid to assist you to distinguish
between good and evil, between the harmful and the useful. Academic attainment, untested by
practical experience, does not put one in any better position than that of the uneducated. Higher
education entails comparatively higher responsibility or obligation.
The purpose of university training is to produce people capable of achieving the progress and
advancement of the nation. People of such calibre are expected to possess deep insight, high
academic discipline and intellectual zeal to crave and search for truth, to know not only the causes
but also effective remedies for any ills that affect the society. Unless one is guided by such noble
objectives -- to know, not only the maladies and how to expound them in vain words but also to
present effective solutions and accomplish them -- the possession of degrees alone does not
classify anyone as fully educated. This is particularly so at this period, crowded as it is with
continuous change and improvement. Moreover, since our educational system is essentially based
upon the experience of other countries, the impact of modernization could create contradictions in
our long-standing African traditions. We can only lay a sure and stable foundation towards rapid
progress for Africa if We foresee the consequences of every step in its true aspect, and try to apply
effective and appropriate methods to the problems of each country.
|We have never failed to observe this approach in all stages of achievement in the past. The very
valid proof of this is that, although it is more than a decade since institutions of higher learning
have been established in Ethiopia, there has always been sound co-operation between the
administrative bodies and the students. The basis of this co-operation has been a collective effort
for the common goal, the interest of the country always paramount. In the future also, it is Our
wish and determination that all higher studies shall be co-ordinated and guided by this University.
Ethiopia is endeavouring, like many other countries, to achieve a high stage of technological
progress. In this period of concentrated effort, she cannot afford to be handicapped by trivial
problems based on selfish motives....
The world today has become oriented to science, which has developed and progressed to a
remarkable extent. Apart from the will of the Almighty, in this 20th Century peace is determined by
the will of the technologically advanced nations which dominate the sentiments of mankind by this
privileged position. Intent on freeing themselves from such fear and insecurity, developing
countries are using the level of progress of these advanced nations as the yard-stick of their own
progress. Developing nations, however, must first attain the basic standard of civilization by
stamping out illiteracy through mass education. To be able to provide mass education,
co-operation, peaceful co-existence and dedication to the common good are needed; because to
arrive at higher scientific achievement, one has to discipline one's mental attitude and work with
the aim of being the recipient of true knowledge.
So far, the continuous co-operation of Our people and the small cadre of elite we have produced
have enabled Us to devise successful short-cuts in guiding Our country towards the goal of
progress. One such method was, side by side with educational expansion, to launch
simultaneously more than one programme of development, by acquiring the services of skilled
foreign experts and establishing industrial and other development schemes, without waiting until
We had Our own qualified experts. This University, which today is granting you your degrees and
diplomas, is in itself the fruit of such combined effort which we have made in the past.
|The Need for Home Training|
|You also know that to be able to have our own qualified people even before establishing local
institutions of higher learning, We have been sending students abroad for advanced studies, and
that there are many who have come back, and are rendering disinterested service to their country.
One of the many fundamental purposes for which We have established this University is to have a
greater number of qualified people who will augment the efforts of those already in service and of
those who will come in the future, and, thus, to have a larger corps of trained people not
completely divorced from our traditional heritage. Although a few learned people of our own are
returning from foreign lands, We have foreseen and are convinced that Our country's pace of
progress can only be accelerated if there is a high influx of educated Ethiopians at one and the
Economically also, the expenditure needed to help a single student through higher studies abroad
is quite sufficient to train a number of students locally. The reason why higher studies on a large
scale were impossible in the past was mainly this: foreign training was very expensive. But We
believe that it is clear to everyone that the establishment of our own University will give us great
and valuable opportunities for expanding higher education in Ethiopia. In addition to this, it has a
significant economic contribution, in that it helps us to save foreign exchange which we need for
investment in other fields by avoiding the transfer of money abroad to finance our students
studying in foreign lands. You most probably know that there are many great men produced in
their own home institutions of higher learning.
In as much as higher education needs much money, the expansion of higher learning is one of the
major problems facing developing and economically poor countries. Hence it can be said that their
pace of development is highly determined by this single factor. In the case of Ethiopia -- the only
bearer of the torch of freedom for the rest of Africa in the past -- to prove that she is not behind in
the pursuit of modern education also, she obliged to give opportunity of access to education not
only to a few but to as many as possible. To this end, We are also quite aware that one university
is not enough but many universities must be established in the future.
|The Wealth of Our Heritage|
|The establishment of our own University is an effective aid in combining modern education with
our noble traditions. Accordingly, it is Our earnest desire that this University shall jealously guard
the wealth of our heritage and pass it on to the succeeding generation with all its richness and
glory as reflected in modern education.
We say this with the understanding that any foreign training not assessed in the light of one's
long-standing traditions, is detrimental to the well-being of the individual and the country, and in
no way useful. We are confident, therefore, that this University will produce useful citizens by
inculcating these views in the minds of its students.
University training entails deep research and intensive studies. Any research should be related to
the requirements and conditions of our country. We are very optimistic that there are many
historically valuable things to be discovered. The students of this University are particularly lucky
to be of school age at this particular time, and it is Our hope that you will avail yourselves of this
exceptional opportunity and contribute to the knowledge of your country in particular and that of
mankind in general, by revealing the hidden, great, historic lore. Our University, therefore, has also
a special contribution to make in this field.
|One of the fundamental principles which the establishment of a university brings forth is the idea
of academic freedom. Academic freedom, if used for the sole purpose of acquiring true knowledge
is undoubtedly the very foundation of the pillars of education; and it is universally recognized that
it has been jealously guarded by all institutions of higher learning. An honest and persistent quest
for truth is essential to the attainment of higher learning. In the past, both in our country and in
the rest of the world, it has always been vital to lay down such prerequisites for intellectual
achievements in order to produce philosophers, scientists, writers and me of academic prominence
in other fields. These prerequisites have also been the source of law and order.
We have also clearly guarded this particular right of academic freedom by clearly stating it in all
the Charters issued in the establishment of our various colleges. But what We want you to
understand very clearly is that academic freedom, if used for any other aim than that for which it is
designed, will defeat its own purpose and be harmful rather than useful.
Academic freedom, unless it conforms to the common good of the society in which it is expected to
be exercised, is meaningless.
Academic freedom affords a base for higher studies. And the aim of higher studies is to serve the
society which is waiting for leadership of the educated elite. Academic freedom that does not
reflect this aim has lost its very foundation for it is no more than an instrument for the protection
of that particular right, dedicated to the true quest for knowledge that is useful for the society.
Academic freedom, on application, should be tested always against the true end of satisfying the
interest of the society. As a proof, if academic freedom as has been applied in one country is copied
and fully applied in another, there would be a divergence, because the purposes and aims which
are expected to fulfil can never be identical, as the interests of the people of no two countries
completely coincide. Apart from this, the interests of each country also vary with time and
An additional reason why academic freedom is held in high esteem and respect is that it makes
possible for human beings to improve their ideas and improve their standard of living. For,
without academic freedom, human life would remain hopelessly stagnant. However, to use this
freedom -- which is given for such noble purpose -- to divide a people struggling to improve its life
and thus make vain all its effort cannot possibly be considered as a valid exercise of academic
freedom is practised. Such attitude is in fact to undermine the wide application of academic
|Parental Agreement on Education|
|One of the important contributions We are dedicated to bequeath to Our beloved people is
education. When we first launched Our programme of educational expansion, it was necessary to
struggle against the interest of parents in sending their children to school. But now the people,
understanding the benefits of the programme which We have been intent to prosecute for their
own betterment, are not only co-operating in sending their children to school upon their own
initiative, but many have expressed their desire to share in the great burden of educational
expenditure which had fallen solely on the government treasury until today, some by cash
contribution and some by building schools. This has very appropriately proven to Us that the
Ethiopian people, as in time of crisis, are still behind Us and co-operating even in all Our
administrative efforts. This has given us encouragement and further determination to dedicate
Ourself for the people to the extent that We feel it is for their lasting welfare. Hence We have
decided to further expand education.
With the help of a limited number of educated people. We have been able to reach the present
point of progress. Encouraged by the continued service of this devoted cadre who have served Us
faithfully, We shall embark upon an extended educational programme.
Within a single generation, We have seen parents who had to be cajoled to send their children to
school become so convinced of the value of education that today, those who have the means are
assisting Us in bearing the financial burden of education, and may of those who are unable to do
likewise continue to stop Us on Our way to request that their children be given places in the
school-house. This is highly gratifying and is a source of encouragement for Us to extend Our
efforts in education. We shall endeavour to work for the betterment of Our people by applying
funds from Our private purse, utilising simultaneously whatever assistance Ethiopia can receive
from friendly governments.
|Haile Selassie the First - July 12, 1962|