Staff from University College Dublin – National University of Ireland- and Institute of Technology Carlow (ITC) visited Ethiopia from May 4 to 9, 2019. In their stay in Wolaita, they had discussed with the University’s management team, the critical infrastructure (enabling environment) team, the innovative education sharing (modular and curricula) team, and the Concern Ethiopia Wolaita office management. On May 8 the team had travelled to Addis Ababa and met (the next day) Minister Samuel Urkato (PhD), Concern Ethiopia head office team, and the Irish Embassy to Ethiopia.
Associate Professor Pat Gibbons, principal coordinator of BRTE, and Mr Dejen Kuma from UCD, Dr David Ryan and Mr Colm O’Connor from ITC, Professor Takele Tadesse, President of WSU, Dr Berhanu Kuma, focal person of the programme in WSU, and other senior staff of the University were participants of the meeting.
In the first day (Sunday May 5) morning meeting, Mr Eshetu and Dr David presented about the overview of WSU and ITC, respectively. Later on discussion were held about the progress made in work-package 2,3, and 4, inter-institutional co-supervisory agreement (cotu telle arrangement), ethical consideration for the 14 PhD studies, research budget transfer and administration, rates for expenses, and vehicle acquisition process.
In the afternoon of Sunday, the visitors discussed with the senior management team and work-package 2 (critical infrastructure/enabling environment) team about the progress made and challenges faced in implementing the strategy endorsed in May 2018.
Even though there is remarkable progress registered in terms of landscape, ICT and library, the level of harmonization made within the work-package team member and other units of the University is not to the level expected. Therefore, the meeting suggested for the WP2 team to re-review their strategy in light with the 100 days plan of the President and develop an action plan.
In the second day of the visit, head of the library services Mr Desta Dana and director of the ICT directorate Abreham Zeleke presented the progress made and the challenges faced in improving the critical infrastructure in their respective units.
Mr Abreham Zeleke, Director of the ICT Directorate of WSU, presented about the works done in improving the ICT infrastructure in the University. The ICT directorate is providing internet service, student registrar system, student information system, institutional mail, website, digital library system, institutional repository, and KOHA. Continuous power supply and staff skill shortage are the two main challenges that hinder the directorate from rendering its services in an efficient manner.
Mr Desta Dana, head of the libraries in WSU, presented the 1st year progress report of the library infrastructure and services. Until the beginning of this month, 4,500 books were purchased, digital link (Springer and six more others) accessing is created, and state of the art library is built in Otona Campus. However, absence of local suppliers that can provide some of the materials required, structure of the University to handle maintenance issues, and the procurement process are among the main challenges that hinder from excelling further.
On the second day afternoon, the UCD and ITC team errand to Concern Worldwide Wolaita Branch office to discuss the purpose of the visit and arrange a visit to Concern’s intervention sites in districts. Head of the Branch, Mr Tsedeke, and manager of REGRADE project, MR Tadese Boda, welcomed the idea of the visit and agreed to arrange staff to accompany them in their journey to the districts/woredas.
After the meeting with Concern staff, the team headed to the University to discuss with work-package 3 (innovative education sharing) team about the progress made, the challenges faced, and suggestion for the future intake. Out of 17 work-package 3 team members, 12 of them (Dr Yishak Gecho, Zebdewos, Dr Ashebir, Prof Asefa, Marishet, Dr Kejela, Yishak A, Mihiret, Getachew, Tesfahun, Feleke, and Samuel) attended the meeting.
The participants described as the modularization of courses are going on in a fairly acceptable way. Especially school of law and college of Business are making big progress in modularizing their courses. Some of the participants raised the importance of ‘institutionalizing modularization’ at the University level for uniformity. Dr Berhanu said the management of the University is keen to integrate BRTE into the transformation of the University and the dean of the school of graduate studies have developed a draft strategy to institutionalize modularization across graduate studies.
Associate Prof Pat described to the participants the importance of/rationale for/ the engagement of the Institute of Technology Carlow into the programme. He also indicated the importance of giving attention, in the September intake cohort, to the already started modules, including rehabilitation/physiotherapy and academic writing skills, and other modules that can serve to a number of schools and colleges, such as research methods, ICT, and the others.
The evening of Monday, the BRTE team visited the Health and Medical Sciences (aka Otona Campus). The Campus has built a state-of-the-art library with WiFi and other facilities in it. The library has a seating capacity for more than 2,000 students, but currently it is only 800 students that are using it.
The physiotherapy/mid-career rehabilitation programme is initiated during the WP3 team visit in Dublin. Dr Kejela Kuma and Mr Kasahun, Dean of the Health Science College, presented the progress made in preparing module and training manual to the mid-career rehabilitation programme.
Tuesday, May 8, morning the BRTE team met the senior management of the University to wrap up the visit. In the meeting, the president reinforced the commitment the University has to make BRTE as effective and efficient as possible. Issues that were left for a decision on the first-day meeting, including the research budget transfer and administrative approach, research expenses rate, and vehicle acquisition were all agreed and put forward for implementation. The UCD and ITC team left Wolaita ad headed to Addis Ababa to meet the Minister (Dr Samuel Urkato), Concern Ethiopia head office, and the Ireland Embassy in Ethiopia.