Education for a Multicultural Society: The Development of a Scientifically and Locally Grounded Model for the Promotion of Intercultural Communicative Competence in Ethiopian Public Higher Education Institutions.
Ethiopia is a typical multilingual and multicultural country. In addition to foreign languages like English, French, Arabic, Italian, 83 languages are actively spoken in the country with more than 200 dialectical variations discernable. Furthermore, the country is characterized by multi-ethnic groups in which more than 80 ethno-cultural groups with a total population of 102, 374,044 live together (FDRE, 2008). Hence, diversity is a fact of life in the Ethiopian society. It is clear that intercultural communicative competence is important for the social and economic development of every society. In Ethiopia, in response to local and global demands for democratic culture and intercultural dialogue, most universities adopted multiculturalism as a model of pedagogy and institutional arrangement. As a result, they admit students from various nations, ethnicity and cultures, hire staff from different backgrounds, and modify their policy and legislation to address equity, diversity and cultural pluralisms. Nevertheless, this multicultural model of higher education has not directly encouraged cultural groups to communicate across ethnic frontiers. An intensification of efforts to promote intercultural communicative competence and multilingualism among university graduates is needed in order to promote intercultural understanding, dialogue and cooperation within Ethiopian society. The doctoral project proposed here aims at investigating scientifically grounded models, approaches, and challenges vis-à-vis the promotion of intercultural communication in multicultural and multilingual higher education institutions in general. Specifically it aims to (1) map the current situation in Ethiopian Universities as regards the promotion of multiculturalism and intercultural communicative competence via education, (2) map the intercultural communicative profile of Ethiopian students and lecturers, (3) study internationally effective strategies for enhancing intercultural communicative competence among university students and lecturers, and (4) present a grounded advice on how to proceed to enhance intercultural communicative competence through university education in specific with special reference to public higher education institutions in Ethiopia. The project takes account of Education for a Multicultural Society and the development of a scientifically and locally grounded model for the promotion of intercultural communicative competence in Ethiopian public higher education institutions. The doctoral project will be situated in a pragmatic paradigm which is considered to be a partner philosophy of mixed-research design. In addition, the study will employ exploratory mixed research design and multiple data gathering tools as far as they might help to understand the issue under study and hold a comprehensive contextual model of intercultural communication competence.