News from Ethiopia

The development partnership project in Ethiopia, which was launched in 2019, is drawing to a close. We received the latest intermittent project report from Ethiopia in October of 2022, and a summary of the results will be made available in the spring of 2023. These reports have allowed us to follow the project and to communicate with our Ethiopian partner, ECDD (Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development), as well as with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. This year, the communication with ECDD took a step further from previous meetings, which were held virtually, as we were able to meet ECDD’s employees in person during their visit to Finland from 24 October to 4 November 2022. We had the honour of receiving the project coordinator Yohannes Teklay, sign language interpreter Andargachew Demssie and administrative expert Kebede Kedir.

During their stay in Finland, ECDD and SYL representatives engaged in diverse activities together. Together with the staff of the Threshold Association, we met with representatives of several disability advocate organisations and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. We visited the office of the Student Union of the University of Jyväskylä (JYY) to learn about the advocacy work they do, the situation of disabled students at the university and the different ways JYY aims to promote accessibility. To top it off, we also enjoyed some Ethiopian delicacies and introduce our guests to Finnish culture.

But what can we conclude from the aforementioned report – how did the project progress in spring 2022? The project has allowed   by supporting the provision of required material resources. Among these are the range of services offered by service centres for the disabled, recording lectures and translating learning materials to braille, for example. The aim is that the universities will continue procuring these resources even after the project ends. In addition, the project provided resources for inclusion by providing consultations and training on different subjects. This has in turn reinforced students’ skills and knowledge, as well as benefitting the management personnel of educational institutions and centres for the disabled.

According to an assessment conducted by the universities, the aforementioned services and resources were used directly by over hundred students. The goal of the project activities is to secure an education path for disabled students all the way from their entry into institutes of higher education to graduation and finding employment. It is also notable that this year, the collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education has been significantly more active. The Ministry aims to apply the knowledge acquired during the project more widely in other universities in the future.

Our development partnership activities will be intensified, as we will not only be continuing our ongoing collaboration with ECDD but also launching a project in Zambia. The activities of SYL’s Development Cooperation Advisory Board will be increasingly focused on international collaboration within the framework of the aforementioned projects. As the reciprocal visits have shown, our projects have been able to breathe new life into activities for the good of civil society and motivate students on an even broader scale than the partners defined in the partnership agreement.

Stay tuned for more news after the monitoring visit to Ethiopia in December!

Inka Mantere
SYL’s Development Cooperation Advisory Board

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