How Big is Australia Really?

I’m proud to be an Australian but love the country of Ethiopia where I worked for many years. Maybe wrongly, but I have often thought that many people think of Ethiopia as a small insignificant African country. And, possibly again wrongly, I have felt that some Australian professional people have felt themselves superior to those working in these ‘backward countries’. I guess this sort of thinking sprang into my mind again when I was watching an Indian movie last night. How can India produce films as good as Hollywood? Well the one I watched last night was better (different) than many I see from the USA. Maybe because they have 1.4 billion people from whom to choose good actors? But let’s not go too far down that road.

Ethiopia is a small African country. It is about sixty percent of the size of Queensland, or about 4 times as big as Victoria. It has a population four times that of Australia. If you want to compare its history with Australia’s, it is much older. Well, if we accept ‘Lucy’ as being one of the first human being, then it is older than our Original Australian’s history, and much much older than white Australia. Their ruling dynasty which ended with the murder of Haile Selassie in 1975 dated back to the time of King Solomon in Israel. Solomon died over 3,000 years ago. Then why is it backward? I would offend Ethiopians by asking that for they are very, and in many ways justifiably, proud of their country and people. Certainly they are progressing much more rapidly than the West did!

It has spectacular beauty; said to have massive gold and oil deposits; heights extend from 125 metres below sea level to 4,550 metres; there are enough rivers that all its electricity is hydro-produced.

But I really started to write about tertiary education. In 1968 when we arrived in Addis there was one University with 1,000 students. Now there are 30 Universities plus 61 other recognized private places with Higher Education standards.

According to my Mr Google – our University in North Queensland (JCU) has 17,500 students. Of the two Universities, where I mainly taught, Jimma University has 45,000, and Arba Mintch has 34,000. When we went to Ethiopia there were 300 doctors in Ethiopia and only 13 were Ethiopians. When I went to Arba Mintch in 2011 there were there 20 medical students per year, and when I left in 2016 there were 170+/year. In that same year, country wide, they graduated 3,000 young doctors. They are paid so little that many as soon as the government permits them they leave the country for richer paying fields – often to other African countries.

The last graduation I attended for doctor, architecture and Urban Planning graduates.

Maybe life was never meant to be fair, but a little more fairness would be nice.

Dominic Cartier