Enhancing appreciation for education in Ethiopia

Alumnus Meron Girma, a business development expert, is passionate about making change in her home country, Ethiopia, and is busy doing so backed by the knowledge and skills she picked up on a short course award, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), 2010.

Meronhas more than 10 years’ working experience, having held roles in organisations as a consultant, program coordinator, project manager and instructor. Her acumen, coupled with wide development experience, propelled her to apply for the short course award, to upgrade her teacher’s skills. It was a milestone, with Meron knowing that Ethiopia, with a population around 109 million, has an undeveloped and low-quality education system despite its booming economy.

The TVET course equipped Meron with impeccable training, assessment and thinking skills. She relies on these skills to develop assessment instruments and plans, make presentations and work effectively in a multicultural environment, all in the education field. While studying, she also learned how to apply project scope management techniques, assess student and teacher competency, and establish learning programs.

Meron now works at the Youth and Cultural Development Foundation as a Business Development Expert. Here she is implementing one of her course’s reintegration action plan goals—to upgrade the skills of TVET teachers. In doing so, Meron is transferring to TVET trainers, the teacher training skills she learned while studying.

One-way Meron does this is through new methodologies, including inquiry-based learning. Thisform of active learning starts with posing questions, problems or scenarios, rather than just presenting facts.So far, Meron has built the capacity of 15 teachers to these methodologies. The benefits are enormous, with two teachers already creating a spiral effect by training other teachers on how to use these participatory methodologies.

Meron also designed and is implementing a project that created an innovation platform that promotes smallholder farmer market opportunities by establishing sustainable market links.

In 2018, Meron received Development Assistance Program funding from the Australian High Commission in Ethiopia to implement a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program called ‘Ethiopian Initiative for Girls Science Teaching and Achievement’. This project is building the capacity of science teachers, school principals, and high school students while helping them appreciate the importance of STEM. It is also training teachers in using information and communications technology (ICT) use and gender-sensitive pedagogy methods, responding adequately to the learning needs of both girls and boys. This will lead to improved science teaching, better-quality cognitive skills and student learning practice within the Addis Ababa, Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. The project is expected to reach 25 secondary and preparatory schools and an audience of 1,069 stakeholders, representing school principals, teachers and students.

‘I am motivated to work on these initiatives as I have noticed distinctly different problems when working on my capacity building program. The major problems are overall low student achievement in science subjects as well as the unbalanced achievement gap between male and female and the gender-sensitive pedagogy,’ says Meron.

The capacity building project involves developing inquiry-based learning programs for subjects including physics, chemistry and biology. It also includes holding professional development workshops for high school teachers to teach them how to use ICT. Finally, the delivery approach also involves teaching students and engaging girls in inquiry-based learning through extra-curricular activities like clubs and science exhibitions.

Meron sees the value of using education to change the way teachers and students respond.

‘Education is key to reducing poverty and is the currency by which Ethiopia, which is Africa’s second most populous country, can build its economic competitiveness and global prosperity,’ says Meron.

Photo: Participants during the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.

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