Concerning Church Education

What do they mean when they say that church education does not have practical applicability?

They adopted a child from another country and become amazed when they found out that the child looks different.  Though the parents were Ethiopian the child has no resemblance to the parents.  The novices blamed the parents for not having contributed to the genetic make up of the adopted child. Worse, they discarded the attributes of the parents as irrelevant and pursued the adopted child as the norm.  In their confusion, they tried to find in the parents anything that does not look like the child and cursed the parents for the dissimilarity.  In short they hate their roots and indeed themselves.

Did the Ethiopian church education contribute to the western education that was adopted by Ethiopia in the 20th century?

Some tell us that the Ethiopian church education has no practical applicability. Is there any truth to what they say?  They forget the contributions of church education in the construction of wonderful works of art, including the magnificent Maryam Tseyon Cathedral that was built in AD 5th century at Aksum and that was adorned with murals of Atse Gebre Meskel and Saint Yared (Kidus Yared -acclaimed Ethiopia's poet, song writer, and priest) and which was described by Alvarez before Ahmad Grange destroyed the church in the 16th century.   They forget that significance of the 13th century Bete Giorgis rock-hewn church at Lalibela.  The cruciform Bete Giorgis stands to this day, an is all the more remarkable because it is a monolith though it is constructed to imitate the Aksumite architecture that is typically made of stone interleaved with logs. What do they mean when they say that church education has no practical applicability? The trenches around the Bete Giogris Cruciform at Lalibela, and the ancient wells in the city at Aksum served to drain away water in Lalibela and to contain water at Aksum. What do they mean when they say that church education has no practical applicability? Emperor Lalibela is the father of Ethiopian architecture.  He was a priest as well as an emperor, and was later made a saint. Lalibela raised in his imagination the Holy City of Jerusalem, renamed a river at Adafa as Yordanos, before he implemented the construction of several rock-hewn churches there. He wanted to preserve for eternity the replica of the Holy City as Jerusalem was run over by Moslems in his time. What do they mean when they say that the church education has no practical applicability? The Knights Templar are believed to have visited Ethiopia, more so during the reign of the Zagwe Dynasty, not only because they were seeking the Arc of the Covenant but also because they were likely interested in taking with them church documents that may unlock the secretes of architecture.  Sir Isaac Newton, who is known for his laws of mechanics, spent days on end and without interacting with other humans for weeks while he experimented on chemical reactions by diligently pursuing church documents.  What do they mean when they say that church education does not have practical applicability?

Known for hiding an art, an object, or a meaning of a word or phrase by replication, the Ethiopian church with its replica of tabotat (as a way of hiding Moses' Arc of the Covenant), and its qine that provide several meanings for the same word or phrase (** see example below) has preserved ancient wisdom in it. Some may carry the replica of the Arc of the Covenant and utter phrases though they may not be versed in the meanings hidden in them. The scholar has a lot more to learn from the Ethiopian church, its literature, its practices, and so on. The Ethiopian church merges Jewry and Christian religion seamlessly and is a repository of both traditions.  It is from these traditions that Western education sprang.

The Ethiopian church education has altogether its own ways of providing education at different levels and specializations, and of assessing the materials learned. Different schools have their own methodologies and students seeking higher qualifications transferred from school to school (gad'em). Some schools have a higher esteem than others, and the qualities are estimated on the basis of the educational content of the gad'em and students that attended it. Church education is offered to a student at his own ability. Church schooling could take as long as 20 years depending on the level of sophistication sought by the student. At monastic schools different vestments are offered to signify the levels of achievement arrived at by the student. The flexibility of the church education and the differences of the methods employed by different schools have provided remarkable strength to the schooling and have even appeared to the novice that the church education is rigid and inflexible.  The parchment on which the feedel is written might be ridged but the use of the feedel is quite fluid. The fluidity is derived by combining the different Feedelat that are placed in an otherwise ordered arrangement of 7 columns by  26 or so rows. The novice may not even know the significance of the 7 by 26 arrangement of the original feedel. Bereft of curiosity, many novices might provide attributes to church education that have no resemblance to the truth of the education.  Our forebears protected Ethiopia and its culture by having priest-emperors, or emperors surrounded by priest councilors.  Those that did not avail themselves of wisdom from the church-educated councilors were swayed by ephemeral and destructive winds that blow in their direction. Since the 1990's, Ethiopian rulers at Asmara and at Addis are unable to tell truth from falsehood, have no guidance for and do not revere the wisdom of telling the truth, and are clearly not impacted by wisdom from church education.  Equally guilty or even more troubling are intellectually dishonest "learned individuals" that bend truth's and  falsify data to force fit preferred outcomes.

Let me conclude by reminding us of issues on which those who  have read any part of the bible several times may agree with.  Each time one reads a part of the bible one derives a different meaning or nuance. Whole new inspirations about what to do in our daily lives exude from the reading.  So, what do they mean when they say that church education has no practical application?  I say that they do know what they mean by what they say.  They just say it. They should be pitied. 

 The church education is not limited to religious instructions.

** "antem altemarhem, isum mari ayedlem"

You are not educated

You are ignorant

You were blameless

You have done no wrong

You are not pardoned

He is not forgiving

He cannot forgive

He is innately incapable of providing forgiveness

He is not Mary

He is lame

He is frightened



Ato Bogale's recent posting containing the marvelous work of Teshale Tibebu -.[Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 9:45 AM]

HG  in

HG in

Teklehaimanot Haileselassie in


HG. 12/15/2005