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Establishing Ethiopia's doctoral education


In a project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), researchers at the Department of Education and Special Education (IPS) are assisting in supervision of 17 Ethiopian doctoral students, as part of Sida’s support for developing and building an African hub for comparative studies in Addis Ababa.

Since spring 2018 IPS has participated in the Sida-funded Research Training Partnership Programme in International and Comparative Education. Eleven researchers at the Department are acting as supervisors, jointly with Ethiopian colleagues.
Addis Ababa University (AAU) — Ethiopia’s oldest university of the 54 nationwide — started the programme back in 2014, also then establishing the Centre for Comparative Education and Policy Studies, where the doctoral students are enrolled. The Centre’s mission is to pursue international and comparative studies of education systems, politics, reforms, innovations and results.

Developing and broadening IPS’s own research

‘One idea for the project and our commitment to it is to support development at the Centre so that the Ethiopians themselves, in the long term, can run the four-year doctoral programme without our help. Our own hope is that the knowledge we gain by participating in the programme will develop and broaden our own research and education, not least the International Master Programme in Educational Research (IMER),’ says Gun-Britt Wärvik, Associate Professor (Docent/Reader) and Project Manager at IPS.

By October the first two of the doctoral students, Muluken Nigatu and Ali Mohammed, were studying on the first of several three-month stays in Gothenburg.

They are both grateful for the high-quality service from the University Library at Campus Pedagogen, with its good access to up-to-date research literature and current academic journals, and its reliable Internet connection.

Project on university ranking

‘Having access to such good supervisors too, including several of the IPS professors, is a wonderful opportunity for us,’ says Nigatu, whose thesis project is about Swedish universities’ cooperation remit.

‘Thanks to Sida, this great opportunity was given to us. This will make researchers of us, and also enable us to establish our own doctoral education in Ethiopia in the long term,’ he says.

Ali Mohammed’s thesis project concerns university rankings.

‘This is something that people attach great importance to, both globally and locally, in a kind of competition. I’ve got wonderful supervisors,’ he says.

A total of 13 PhD students embarked on their studies at AAU as early as 2014. However, these had to be temporarily interrupted when a previous collaboration with Stockholm University ended owing to staff retirements. In summer 2017, representatives of AAU visited IPS at the University of Gothenburg and gave a briefing on the project.

Good match for students’ own research profile

‘We got interested since, in a sense, it matched our own research profile well. We were then given the opportunity to develop an application to Sida to resume the programme, and the application now also included stays at IPS. Preliminary approval of the application came through in spring 2018 and we got straight down to work so as not to lose time,’ Wärvik says.

In summer 2018, AAU’s President Tassew Woldehanna and Sweden’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Torbjörn Petterson, signed an overall agreement on research collaboration between AAU and Sweden. The IPS project involving supervision of the Ethiopian doctoral students is part of this agreement.

On a visit to IPS in November, the Ethiopian ambassador, H.E. Professor Merga Bekana, also informed himself about the ongoing project. Participants from IPS were former Head of Department Mona Arfs, current Head of Department Anna-Carin Jonsson and Project Manager Gun-Britt Wärvik.