Jennifer Riggan

Vignette 3

Homo economicus and the developmentalist state: Controversies over Citizenship Education in Ethiopia


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The author analyzes a classroom observation of a lesson on traditional versus modern practices of saving money, given in the context of Ethiopia’s Civic and Ethical Education (CEE) program. This program’s curriculum was central to Ethiopia’s post-1991 nation-building project and is in many respects a blueprint for a particular notion of citizenship and personhood, and for relationships between Ethiopians, their nation, and the world. This vignette unveils the deeply controversial nature of the lesson’s content and juxtaposes this with the lack of debate encouraged in the classroom. It shows how the CEE curriculum espouses a set of financial priorities here that may be unrealistic for students on the one hand, and antithetical to their religious, community and cultural values on the other.