Problematizing the Policy Framing

  • Tebeje MollaEmail author
Part of the Education Policy & Social Inequality book series (EPSI, volume 2)


Notwithstanding extensive expansion of the system and the array of equity policy instruments put in place in response to unequal access and participation, the problem of inequality in Ethiopian higher education (HE) has persisted in the form of the underrepresentation of women, high attrition rates and low graduation rates among females and ethnic minorities, low female participation in the fields of science and technology, prejudicial views and hostilities against women, and discriminatory graduate employment (see Chaps.  5 7). In this respect, the core argument of this chapter is that the persistence of inequality in Ethiopian HE has partly to do with drawbacks in the framing of the problem as a policy issue. The chapter shows that in the Ethiopian HE policy field, most often the problem of social inequality is represented as a problem of disparity in enrolment, poor academic performance, and lack of assertiveness of female students while structural barriers remain (for the most part) unaddressed. This superficial representation of structural inequality in Ethiopian HE has profoundly affected the equity instruments introduced at a national level. Even though affirmative action admission and recruitment policies might have widened the opportunity of individuals to get access to HE, more relevant instruments such as protective legislation against violence and sexual harassment, continuing support for equity target groups, including female students and students of rural and ethnic minority backgrounds are rarely enacted. The equity policy provisions are deficient in that they fail to challenge institutional and cultural barriers that impede disadvantaged groups’ effective participation, success and promotion within the HE system. The analysis in this chapter mainly focuses on gender equity policy provisions as exemplary cases. Following a brief theoretical account on policy issue framing, in this chapter, I take gender inequality in Ethiopian HE as an exemplary case to problematize the framing of the problem of inequality in equity policies.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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