Quality engineering education vital for accelerating socio-economic development
Aiming to produce competent and problem solving work force that meaningfully contributes to the socio-economic development of the country, the Ethiopian government has been expanding higher education institutions throughout the country. To meet the growing demands of the rapid economic development, particularly in infrastructure expansion, about 70% of students are joining natural science fiends in higher education institutions due to a federal government policy.
The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with Addis Ababa University and GIZ's Sustainable Training and Education Program (STEP) organized an international conference on "Quality in engineering education in Ethiopia" on 27th and 28th October 2016 in Addis Ababa.
Opening the conference, State Minister for Higher Education Sub-sector under the Ministry of Education, Dr. Kaba Urgessa noted that improving the quality and relevance of Ethiopia's higher education is one of the top agendas that the government pursuing in the current fifth education sector development program or GTP II. The Minister stressed that as the nation committed huge share of its resources towards improving higher education quality and relevance, such conferences are believed to generate critical debates particularly in the areas of improving quality of science and technology in Ethiopia. The State Minister also underlined there is a high need for higher learning institutions to improve the skill sets and competencies of graduates as well as to enhance research and technology transfer in science and technology.
At the two-day conference, various international scholars and practitioners made presentations on topics including, among others, an innovative e-learning platform for education in Ethiopia, enhancing the pedagogical competencies of science and technology education, best practices in engineering education practices, the links between academic research and economic development in Ethiopia as well as teaching learning and industrial link for quality in engineering education in Ethiopia.
Making a presentation on the teaching of engineering at Institute of Technology (IoTs) and the impact on graduate employability, Eric Miller an international consultant with electrical engineering background, reported among others, that rote learning of facts is not being turned into knowledge, reflection nor the application analysis or problem solving; students need to be at the centre of the learning process; there is a mismatch between the skills and knowledge of newly emerging graduates and the needs of industry; students from most universities are not "job ready"; the best students today become the lectures tomorrow with little or no application experience; students are over assessed as a stick against poor attendance and assessment is based on the regurgitation of specific facts that discriminates against the well-read students.
As a remedy the consultant recommended among others that the delivery of the curriculum should be restructured in line with modern pedagogy and the requirements of industry, the development and use of ready-made case study teaching materials applicable to Ethiopia, ongoing support and advice should be made available to all teaching staff on site at every IoT, to continue the implementation of change and that IoTs need to have the will and the change of mind-set to make the necessary changes.
Participants of the conference are drawn from Ministry of Education, researchers, instructors and students from various universities, and various development partners.
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