University partners Gondar University in Ethiopia
International links between the University of Leicester and the University of Gondar, Ethiopia, are to be strengthened following the announcement of new funding of over £60,000.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) funding will reinforce the existing partnership between the universities and allow for training and development programmes to be put in place.
The England-Africa Partnerships (EAP) is a scheme for funding higher education partnerships between England and sub- Saharan Africa, in order to help develop and strengthen capacity in African higher education.
The scheme is funded by DfES and managed by the British Council Professor Mike Silverman, one of the pioneers of the Leicester- Gondar partnership, said: “Gondar University, Ethiopia did not exist 4 years ago, but in 4 years time it will have more fulltime students than the University of Leicester!
“This puts a huge amount of strain on the teaching and support resources in a country which has seen a rapid expansion of higher education over the last few years. The Partnership Programme between Leicester and Gondar University has received a welcome boost in the form of a grant for over £60,000.
“This will support staff development in Gondar, links between the Departments of Economics in Leicester and Gondar, and innovative work in development education.”
Staff development is seen as a major need by senior managers in Gondar. John Doidge, the Head of Staff Development at Leicester, is providing enthusiastic support for the project. In conjunction with Skillshare International, a series of workshops are proposed for Gondar, to provide leadership and management training for staff. A new Staff Development Centre will be set up there, with guidance from Leicester. This sort of infrastructure support is vital to enable Gondar to build teaching and research excellence in the future.
Dr Abbi Kedir, a Lecturer in Economics in Leicester who hails from Ethiopia, is leading the Partnership with the Economics Department in Gondar. This will involve teaching, training and research.
Liz Grant of the Staff Development Centre who is working on Internationalisation Projects within Leicester, is to set up communities of academic practice which will link academics in Leicester with their opposite numbers in Gondar, to share curriculum and teaching materials, and to share experiences for mutual development. These activities represent the first steps in what is hoped to be sustainable developmental link between our two universities. Further funding is being sought to enhance research links.
Finally, humanitarian work by Leicester students is supporting the poorest students in Gondar. Medical students in Leicester are supporting 16 Health Sciences students in Gondar, so poor that they cannot afford clothing, shoes or writing materials. They have pledged to continue this support in future.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Postlethwaite, who Chairs the Gondar Working Group, said "The grant is enormously important in enabling the group to fulfil some of its plans to help the University of Gondar develop its teaching staff and administrative support services. There is so much we could do."