Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
FIFTH GRADUATION EXERCISES OF H.S.I.U.
It gives Us great satisfaction today, at the end of the academic year, to observe the number of students who have successfully passed this University’s requirements and who are assembled here today to take part in this commencement ceremony. This is a rewarding and long-awaited occasion for each of you, as it is for Us personally, and We congratulate each one who will today receive his diploma from Our hands.
Although you have reached this high landmark in your academic training, your education is not complete; there is no end to learning. During your years of study We hope that you have come to understand and appreciate the significance and the importance of education, educational institutions, and of this University in particular. We hope that you have come to realize what this University is today, what its role in the life of the nation is in 1966, and what its potential is for the future.
For Us, the importance of this University — indeed, of any institution of higher education — is fourfold. First, it provides the institutional framework wherein ancient and tested and proven knowledge can be passed on to the present and future generations. Lacking such a framework, neither a country nor an educational system can bequeath and transmit profound knowledge to posterity. In this same fashion, the existence of Ge’ez and Amharic have enabled Ethiopia to preserve and pass to later generations the civilization and culture of her ancient people.
Second is the discovery and development of new knowledge through research. A university which does not expand the frontiers of learning through research can only be short-lived.
Third is the discharge of the obligation to teach others which the very creation of such an institution implies and embodies. This is its supreme function. The creation of the institutional framework alone does not guarantee that teaching will be effective; nor does the growth of learning within the university’s walls by itself ensure that knowledge will be spread and diffused. The mere existence of a fund of knowledge is not enough; unless knowledge is nurtured and nourished by devoted teachers and eager students alike, it will, like a pool of water following the rains change its hue and slowly disappear.
Practical Aspect Emphasized
And since a university is established and maintained through the will and support of a people and a government. We may consider, lastly, the use to be made of the knowledge which it has acquired or developed and which it is now transmitting to others. Clearly, this knowledge must be devoted to the ultimate fulfilment of the needs and desires of those to whom the university owes its being. A university which is unconcerned with the practical impact of the work on the people and the nation, which limits its horizons to the theoretical and the abstract and its activities to the library and the laboratory, cannot long expect to enjoy the support of the people and the nation.
It is Our most earnest wish that this University meet all of these requirements so that the full force of the promise which it holds out to the future of Our beloved country may be well and gloriously realized. You graduates who have had, through your year of service to the nation, the opportunity to see at first hand the impact of your education upon your country and to observe at first hand the nation’s needs, are in a better position to understand and evaluate the extent to which this is today being accomplished. This is the essential purpose of the National Service Programme: the development within each one of you of the inner sense of service to the nation. Only through dedication and sacrifice can one truly help and benefit his country.
Although the pressure imposed by the need for training more teachers is still felt, We note with great satisfaction that the number of Ethiopian teachers has increased in the five years of the University’s existence. In order to attain self-sufficiency, we must give priority to overcoming this shortage. We cannot depend always on others. “The disciple is not above his master.” We urge you, the teachers, who have a close acquaintance with the conditions of your country, to use your education for conducting valuable research directed towards the alleviation of the problems of your country. Teach, learn, and thereby extend increasingly the frontiers of your knowledge.
Some of you graduates of the Class of 1966 were unable to pursue fulltime university education. Despite this, you devoted your spare time to your studies, determined that this should not constitute a serious impediment in your work. You have been found worthy, and you, in particular, deserve congratulations.
Ranks Must Be Filled
Today, Our eyes and Our hopes are on all you graduates. We hope that the seeds of learning which you have received will, in the service which you render, ripen into an abundant harvest. We assumed the obligation to foster and expand education in Our nation both as a solemn duty, because the nation can flourish and grow only as the ranks of the teachers and students are expanded and filled; as a matter of free will, because man would prefer to speak of his nation in terms of its educated men and women rather than by recounting the size of its population.
Those of you who have not yet completed your studies look forward with hopes and impatience to the day when you, too, will attain this honour. To you We give the message of St. Paul: “Who looks back, having once put his hand to the plough?”
These words remind Us as well of the need for more universities, for more teachers, more schools, more students and more work. They commit us ever more fully to the search for the outer limits of the frontiers of learning. Until these have been achieved, no one can enjoy peace of mind.
Dynamism, coupled with a conscientious concern for the well-being of the nation are the necessary qualities of the youthful mind. You have had a better educational opportunity than many. Evaluate your ideas; separate the good in them from the bad. Your hands once put to the plough, do not look back. Education moulds human elements in man. It develops him from adolescence to manhood. Let usefulness be your hallmark today, not adolescence.
Once again, We congratulate you all, and we thank Almighty God that you have proved yourself deserving of this occasion.
June 30, 1966.
Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
November 23, 2016