A one-day national conference of its first kind was held at Magnolia Hotel in Addis Ababa on 31st of October,2019 entitled “Ph.D. Training in Ethiopia: Challenges and Opportunities and the Way Forward.” The conference is organized by Jimma University, St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College, and the University of Oslo and with the support of Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). It was attended by representatives from federal institutions such as the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Ministry of health and presidents, V/Ps of various public higher education institutions in Ethiopia, professors from the University of Oslo and NORAD. The major aim of the conference was to highlight the challenges of running Ph.D. programs in the context of Ethiopia, assess the available opportunities and design a road map to set strategic directions for interventions for the future. It also focused on indicating outstanding issues by way of setting directions for policy makers.
On the opening phase of the conference, Dr. Adula Bekele, V/P for Academic Affairs of JU underlined that training at Doctoral level is crucial for developing highly skilled, competent and knowledgeable academic and professional personnel in various fields. This attribute made doctoral degree training to be valued as an essential to an academic career, the development of future researchers and professors. According to him, Jimma University and its partners decided to organize a conference on the same issue to create an excellent platform for relevant stakeholders to exchange views and strengthen concrete collaboration in the field of doctoral training.
Present on the occasion and guest of honor of the event was Dr. Eba Mijena, Academic and Research Director General at the FDRE Ministry of Science and Higher Education. He stated that the educational sector has been receiving pronounced attention from the Government of Ethiopia, because of the central role the sector plays in realizing the country’s commitment to achieving different development agendas. Nevertheless, a lot of challenges are ahead to achieve its aspiration. The challenges ahead include access to quality education and training at all levels, efficiency of the system, and gender equality at some levels of the educational structure. Moreover, one should always ask as to where Ethiopia stands regionally and internationally. With regard to student learning achievement, there appears to be a wide gap in its training methods and management. Given Ethiopia’s ambition to become a middle-income country by 2030, its education system is therefore challenged to improve not just in terms of access and equity, but also in terms of the quality of its outcomes. The same is true in the management and leadership of doctoral programs at various public universities in the country, where we need to register swift reforms to ensure quality and meet international standards.
In this regards, according to him, the conference organized by JU and its local and international partners is an important platform for developing a standard training structure for the PhD training in the country, which contributes to the country’s growth and development agenda through training of qualified PhD holder who are responsive for the societal and country’s needs. He further highlighted that Jimma University has taken remarkable initiative and leading role by designing an integrated teaching and management approach by giving huge emphasis to the PhD training. We are very positive that the results from the discussion of this conference will help to improve the working strategy initiated by Jimma University.
The representative from NORHED Mrs. Signe Marie Breivik also expressed that Education is one of the highest priority areas within Norwegian Development Policy with the believe that investment in higher education contributes to the development of intellectual resources, a competent work force, visionary leaders, gender equality and human rights. It also contributes in producing evidence based policies and decisions that enhances sustainable economic, social and environmental development. She further said, that is why the NORHED is being employed as the most important tool to engage in partnership on research and higher education and supports programs such as the one discussed and implemented in today’s conference.
Six lead papers were presented by professors from Addis Ababa University, Jimma University and the University of Oslo. Later on extended discussions were held on the papers presented and a separate session was also allotted for participants and paper presenters to reflect on the way forward, where they have suggested issues to be considered at a policy level to ensure better quality doctoral programs in the Ethiopian higher education system.