The South Intensive program, as one of the actions of the Global Minds project of VLHORA (the umbrella organisation of Flemish Higher Education Organisation), within the framework of VLIR-UOS (organisation for University Development Cooperation) targets to foster a cooperation between students and lecturers in North and South on a specific theme relevant to development cooperation which is not necessarily part of the existing curriculum. The most important traits of a SIP are its multidisciplinary character and innovative approach. A SIP will sensitize students for the various aspects of development cooperation, increase the knowledge base of all students and staff and reinforce the cooperation between the Flemish University College and their South partners in this case Jimma University and PXL University College.
The SIP between the two institutions, which was held from 12th to 23rd February, 2018, created the opportunity for the staff and students from the two institutions to share experience and to strengthen their capacity on the identification of problems in a particular community setting by employing scientific investigation methods analyze data, design intervention plan to address the problem and develop a fully fledged project proposal for future action. This has been achieved with an active exchange and participation between the students, staff, the local population in Jimma town and intensive engagement in the field.
Sixteen students from various fields of studies and 7 coaches (Supervisors) were involved from PXL-University College and similarly 21 students and five coaches participated from JU’s side. The first two days of the program was dedicated for cultural exchange where students from the two institutions presented about each other’s culture and general facts about their country. Later on, eight multidisciplinary teams were formed each of them composing 4-5 students with mix of specialization and combining students from both institutions. After having a preliminary group discussions on general thematic fields (problems) the groups were dispatched for community assessment and later on to collect data by employing data collection methods and instruments they have already designed with the assistance of their coaches. The cumulative outcome was the development of eight project proposals on the basis of problems identified in various community settings.
As expressed by students and coaches from both sides the programs has a splendid outcome in facilitating a platform to learn from each other and share experiences on need based and problem focused community oriented projects. After having engaged together in multidisciplinary teams for two weeks, it was amazing to see the students coming up with concrete project plans with well defined problems and futures directions to address them.
The proposed projects were finally defended by the team of students in the presence of the supervisors and will be handed over to respective departments for practical interventions to be carried out by the upcoming successive batches of Masters Students’.