2.13 Ethnocentrism among Four Ethnic Groups of Students Implications and Future Direction: The Case of Dilla College of Teacher Education and Health Sciences
Ethnocentrism understood as having positive attitude and behaviour towards one's own while negative and hostile attitudes towards other ethnic groups has become an issue of the 20th century, especially in multi-ethnic countries such as Ethiopia. Ethiopia consists of more than 80 ethnic groups with their own languages, heritage, and areas of settlement. These ethnic groups have long history of interaction and national representation. Each ethnic group needs to be studied in its own terms and in relation to others.
Since 1991, ethnic politics has been exercised in the country. Political parties are organized along ethnic lines. Rationalization and decentralization of power is in order. Regional states are divided on major ethnic basis. Federal and national elections are answering the needs of those political parties. Regional, zonal, and Woreda civil and official positions are filled with natives of the respective regions. Federal positions are filled on ethnic quota systems.
Whether or not this ethnic politics has brought about ethnocentrism is not (much?) researched especially by psychologists. There are some indications of ethnocentrism. Scholars have recommended researches in this area. Ethnic conflict is also reported to have displaced about half a million people from 1991 to 1995. This researcher, therefore, strongly believes that the issue of ethnocentrism, its implication on present-day and future Ethiopia, and its future direction should be carefully studied. Students of Dilla College of Teacher Education and Health Sciences are cases used for this purpose. The findings of this research would enlighten the society, the individual, the college, the government and others interested in ethnic matters in Ethiopia. Intervention programs may be suggested, if need be. Vigorous research attempts would be initiated, as well. In light of this, this research attempts to answer the following questions.
1. Are students of Dilla College of Teacher-Education and Health Sciences ethnocentric towards their own and other ethnic groups?
2. Is there a (statistically significant) difference in ethnocentrism among the different ethnic groups?
3. Is there a (statistically significant) gender difference in ethnocentrism among students of these ethnic groups?
4. Is there a (statistically significant) religion difference in ethnocentrism among students of these ethnic groups?
5. What is the implication of this ethnocentric attitude on students of the college?
6. What should be done in the future on ethnocentric attitudes and/or relations in the college in particular, and institutions of higher learning, in general?
To carry out the research, four major ethnic groups of students (Amhara, Oromo, Tigre, and Gurage) of Dilla College of Teacher-Education and Health Sciences, Debub University, were selected. These ethnic groups were selected due to their relatively large size in the student population of the college. From the total sample, responses indicated as Amhara (47.9%), Oromo (24.5%), Tigre (9.2%), Gurage (6.7%), and others (11.7%). Data were gathered from 185 students of undergraduate degree program in the 1999/2000 Academic Year. Data collection instrument was adopted from Demewoz (1997) who reported to have made a descriptive survey of ethnic and racial measures, discussions with varying ethnic group colleagues, and so forth. The reliability of the instrument was reported to be .73. The instrument has three parts: Bio-data, bi-polar trait dimensions, and labelling the better dimension of the bi-polar continuum. Percentages, Chi-square, ANOVA, and Scheffe statistical tests were employed for data analysis. Nearly all ethnic groups of students considered in the study were found ethnocentric: they rated their own ethnic group higher than they did others. Some specific results that were statistically significant include: (a) the Amhara ethnic group mean ratings significantly differed between its own and the Oromo, between the Gurage and the Oromo; (b) the Oromo ethnic group mean ratings significantly differed between its own and the Amhara ethnic groups; (c) the Tigre ethnic group mean ratings significantly differed between own and the Oromo, between the Amhara and the Oromo ethnic groups; and (d) the Gurage ethnic group mean ratings significantly differed between its own and the Amhara, between its own and the Oromo ethnic groups.
No significant difference, however, were observed in terms of gender, religion, and interactions; and in labelling the better continuum of the bi-polar trait dimension.
The above results indicate that the subjects were ethnocentric. This could be partly explained by ethnic group membership and/or assumed similarity wherein one's own ethnic group is considered as a point of comparison, culturally and biologically superior, and wherein it is over evaluated while other ethnic groups are under evaluated. On the other hand, long history of interaction, superordinate common goals and high level of education seem less important in neutralizing the issue of ethnocentrism at the college level.
From the above results, it can be learned that national feeling, unity, helping and cooperative behaviours may be endangered, national agenda narrowed and replaced by ethnic agenda. As a result, ethnic tension, violence and conflict may prevail. This problem may make it difficult to create a stable government. This may continue in future, as well. Some intervention strategy seems imperative.
Educational equity, integrated pluralism, ethnic isolation, celebrating diversity, training scholars and designing researched intervention strategies may be opted based on multidisciplinary research for present and future Ethiopia.