Ethiopian Ministry of Education and SIL Ethiopia sign cooperative agreement

Dr. Alemayehu Hailu, Director of SIL Ethiopia (right) and State Minister of Education Fuad Ibrahim Omer (left)

The purpose of cooperation between SIL and the Ministry [of Education] is to further the goals of Mother Tongue Education (Multilingual Education), language research [and] sustainable language development…with special focus in minority language areas.

-From the Memorandum of Understanding signed by representatives of SIL Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Ministry of Education

(September 2011) A new Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 23 August by State Minister of Education Fuad Ibrahim Omer, on behalf of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and Dr. Alemayehu Hailu, Director of SIL Ethiopia. This agreement formalizes the commitment to continued partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and SIL Ethiopia.

In addition to projects being conducted in partnership with other organizations, SIL Ethiopia is currently working with the Ministry of Education on Multilingual Education and other language development activities in the Benishangul-Gumuz and Bench-Maji Zone projects.

In response to an invitation by local leaders, SIL began language development work in Ethiopia in 1973. To date, SIL and Addis Ababa University have collaborated on the linguistic research of approximately forty of Ethiopia’s eighty-five living languages. Registered and licensed as a Foreign Charity by the Ministry of Justice’s Charities and Societies Agency, SIL Ethiopia cooperates with government agencies, Ethiopian churches and other partners in their language development efforts.

This agreement is in accordance with the Education and Training Policy adopted by the Ministry of Education in 1994. It will be in effect for the next three years, at which time it may be renewed by mutual consent of both parties. Desired outcomes of the agreement include:

  • Promotion of Mother Tongue Multilingual Education (MLE), with a special focus on establishing linguisticly and technological sound practices for MLE in minority language communities;
  • Language documentation as a support for future decisions on writing systems;
  • Establishment of sustainable language development activities;
  • Publication of works such as dictionaries, culturally significant texts and approved translated materials.


SIL agrees to:

  • Facilitate academic research on Ethiopian languages and cooperate with other organizations involved in this work, making the results of such research available in order to support decision making for future language development;
  • Facilitate the development of Mother Tongue Education by offering technical assistance through training and primary-level Mother Tongue curriculum development;
  • Cooperate with the Ministry of Education to identify additional funding sources for priority activities and products;
  • Support language communities in creating a literate environment and developing capacity for sustainable language development, giving priority to remote or disadvantaged communities which are most in need of outside assistance;
  • Help to raise awareness of the value of Mother Toungue Education among education professionals and minority communities;
  • Designate a contact person for communications between SIL Ethiopia and the Ministry of Education and provide annual acitivity and audit reports of language development activities to the Ministry of Education.


The Ministry of Education agrees to:

  • Cooperate in facilitating language development activities, including Multilingual Education;
  • Invite SIL experts as resource persons or participants in training events, workshops and other meetings related to language development;
  • Review and approve materials jointly produced under this agreement;
  • Within the bounds of established legal parameters, cooperate with SIL as much as possible to further language development;
  • Prepare supporting letters to the concerned Ministry for the issuance of work permits for expatriate staff members of SIL Ethiopia whose service promotes the joint activities of the two parties;
  • Appoint a contact person for communications between the Ministry of Education and SIL Ethiopia.

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