Plan And Activities

Introduction

The Center for Gender Studies has been implementing various project activities in addition to its teaching-learning mission. Among these, the RIG/DPR hadbeen implemented from2010-2014 with four major objectives: civic engagement, staff capacity building, regional as well as national scholarships and research. For the year 2014, only civic engagement activities (seminars, public lectures, production of educational brochures and bi-annual newsletter), capacity building (PhD students visit to regional university) and research had been planned.
Activities accomplished to achieve these objectives were reported every six months (commonly used term is 1sthalf and 2nd half reports) to the regional coordinating office in Ahfad University which usually sends reporting templates to the partner universities (AAU and Makarere) for the sake of convenience of the reports.

Although the project was approved to operate up to end of December 2014, NORAD has agreed to extend the activities up to the end of June, 2015 because those activities have been pushed back (from the beginning) due to, mainly, late disbursements of fund from NORAD and some administrative challenges as in the case of AAU.All partner universities hadbeen reporting that they had activities to be carried out.

Hence, the universities have been allowed to complete all planned activities up to June, 2015 with understanding that there will be no administrative fund from NORAD. Indeed, few amount of funds will be released to be used for PhD students’ visit to regional University (in AAU’s case), publications and for project closeoutworkshop. Thus, NORAD expects the partner universities to submit activity as well as financial report of the fund, released for 2014, by April, 2015.

This is, therefore, an activity report for the second half of the year 2014 which, according to the project agreement, is the final year of the project.

Seminar was conducted

CGS has been organizingseveral events to enhance the knowledge and practical experience of students in the area of Gender Studies. Although budget was limited, it has utilized its human as well as financial resources to ensure maximum benefit forits students. Among these activities, there have been a series of fieldwork to exercise research methods, visits to observe gender-sensitive issues, library tours, trainings, public lectures and seminars.

For the year 2014, the RIG/DPR project had plans to conduct one public lecture and one workshop. However, the total fund allocated for these activities was merged together so that one bigger event could be organized. Accordingly, CGS planned to conduct student-focused seminar where MA students could participate to share ideas and experiences on how to produce best academic research work in generaland MA theses in particular. Although this plan has been part and parcel of the teaching-learning mission of the center, it has been reduceda minimum level due to time and financial constraints. As it had been reported in 2nd half report for 2013, the RIG/DPR project massively contributed to the student-focused seminar, by covering thecosts of the program. Likewise, the fund under the civic engagement was used to carry out this year’s seminar.

The 2014’s student-focused seminar aimed to help second year students of the center who currently are inthe process of thesis work through the provision of valuable comments, suggestions and directing in a way that enables them to see the best ways of producing quality research outcomes. Accordingly, a three-day seminar was organized where 21 ongoing theseswerediscussed in detail. The seminar was held at Asham-Africa hotel in Debrezeit, which is out of Addis Ababa, an offsite occasion forstudents and instructors toconcentrate on thecrucial issues.

Although such events had been organized by the center at various times, this one wasunique for two main reasons:

  • First, all instructors of the center were invited to take part; they formed twogroupsto read student proposals for possible comments and suggestions. Instructors gave due attention to each and every part of the proposals and have spent their time to enablestudents to havethe expected qualities required forresearch. Hence, the contents, structure, terminologies and style of theses were critically observed by the instructors.

Besides, they searched relevant sources of data for students to go to and further incorporate into their papers. Although instructors were given short time for review of the proposals (due to delays in the submissionof the materials by the students), they had worked hard to go through all the proposalsand compile their comments that wouldhelp students enrich their work. Previously, this was not done; rather it was the students’ responsibility to present their proposals and instructors reflected only onwhat they heard from the short power point presentation. Hence, the whole arrangementseemed to have lackeda detailed understanding of the student’s ideas embody (except the advisor) because students may not beable to explain everything within the given time.

  • Second, this seminar was given sufficient time and especial avenue which created a favorable environment for discussion. The previous seminars were held at Akaki campusclassrooms usually for half a day. The feedback from both the students and the instructors shows that the previous seminars were organizedwith a rush and alot of stress as the instructors and students, during the exercise, mostly worried about missing the regular shuttleservice rendered by the college to get back home.Furthermore, absenteeism and drop-outs were common. This year’s seminar was conducted under the theme: “MA ThesisProposal Review” meantto review about 21proposals which had beensubmitted to the center. The main objective of the seminar was to provide meaningful directions to students so that they wouldbe able to develop quality thesis research.

Day-1:

Travel to Bishoftu

Debrezeit (Bishoftu) is located at about 47kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa. The travel to Debrezeit (Bishoftu) town started in the afternoon from Sidist Kilo Campus where AAU arranged bus to transport all participants of the seminar. Although the plan was to start the sessions upon arrival at Debrezet, it was not possible to do so due to traffic-jam-caused late arrival (5:00pm) at Bishoftu .

Day 2:

The seminar session was started with an opening remark delivered  by Dr. DiluShaleka who appreciated the attendance of the students and urged participants to adhere to the schedule so that the seminar could achieve its objectives. He reminded participants that the seminar was a continuation of CGS’s staff efforts to help students complete their academic pursuitssuccessfully. Despite its limited resources, the center has been offering various opportunities for students so that they can improve their knowledge and experiences in doing gender-sensitive researches. This CGS effort has been widely recognized at the College level as a best practice that needs to be replicatedin other centers as well.

Following the opening remark, Dr. Dilu gave a lecture on the selection of a concept note, identification of specific research topic, proposal development, and stages in thesis writing. He emphasized that students must be specific in selection of their research topics and need to have aclear roadmap on how to address their research objectives. Moreover, he reminded participants to critically scrutinize their research findingsin light of appropriate theoretical frameworks that are covered in their Gender Studies classes or available in the body of literature.In this regard, he emphasized the importance of an intensive literature review before starting the actual proposal writing to be able to understand the whole range of issues related to the topic of interest.

Finally, wishing a successful and fruitful discussion, Dr. Dilu urged the students to make the best out of the comments and feedbackthey obtain during the seminar.

Dr. RahwaMussie, director of CGS and Dr. MulumebetZenebe, and Dr. DiluShalekapresented their reflections on the proposal they accepted to read. Accordingly, they have clearly indicated the strengths and weaknesses of each proposaland forwarded detailed suggestions on how to improve the quality of the proposals. Among others, issues related to identification of appropriate data sources, careful use of terminologies, following standard styles of scientific citations, and maintaining flow of ideas were the major areas of concern raised regarding the papers.

Students were also given the opportunity to reflect on the comments given by the respective readers. Feedback from the student shows that they found the seminar extremely useful and inspiring. They also appreciatedthe effort made by the instructors in critically reviewing their papers. Emphasizing the importance of the event, the students finally stressed the need for the continuation of such events in the future.

A total of 21 papers were reviewed during the whole-day discussion held on Day 2. The session was found to be highly engaging and ended at 8:30pm.

Day 3

As all the planned activities were accomplished in Day-2, Day 3 was used to travel back to Addis Ababa. During their travel to Addis Ababa, participants had continued their discussion.  Students were having informal discussion with their instructors on issues related to their research project.

Production of Educational Brochure

Although it had been planned to produce one educational brochure for the year 2014, the budget has been transferred to be used for compiling Abstracts of MA theses of CGS. This is because the collection of Abstracts has already been started (2008-2012 have already been compiled) but couldn’t include the recent abstracts because of financial limitations during the previous budget plans. The activity of updating the Theses Abstract Series is planned among the major activities to be accomplished in the year 2015. In this regard, two CGS staff members have signed the contract agreement to accomplish the task up to June 30, 2015.

Research Grant has been awarded
The other project activity that has been planned to be accomplished in the project is awarding a research grant. The 2014’s research grant has been awarded to CGS’s staff, Dr. RahwaMussie, who will research on “Aspiration of Graduate students about their role models”. Contract agreement has been signed and payment of the first installment of the grant is being processed by the university finance office. The agreement signed indicates that the final work of the research will be submitted to CGS by June 30, 2015.

AVL Training conducted
A staff from CGS (Dr. RahwaMussie) participated in the five-day AVL (African Visionary Leadership) training in Sudan (include city, & date). AVL training is an annual event where different representative of the countries in East Africa do take part. This year’s (2014) participants were PhD holderacademic staff.

Professor Balghis visit to Addis
During the second week of November, Professor BalghisBadri, (include title) had visited to Addis Ababa (include duration of the visit) and met CGS chair Dr. RahwaMussieand RIG/DPR project coordinator w/roAsmeret G/hiwet at Leopold Hotel. She briefed the professor about the remaining budget, the activities and way forward. She said that NORAD had delayed fund transfer for all the universities for some reasons associated with financial procedures. However, it has now sent the annual budget at once so that the universities could accomplish the planned activities. Due to the delay in the fund transfer, it was clear that the activities wouldn’t be completed by December 2014. This would especially be difficult for AAU because the fund was sent to the University late in September 10, 2014.

However, Professor Balghis reminded that an activity and financial report should be sent by April 2014, so that NORAD would facilitate the transfer of the remaining fund for the finalization of the project.
During the meeting, the status of researchers, Gender And Governance scholarship students, status of the PhD students, deliverables and number of public lectures as well as seminars held were discussed.
A partner meeting was held in Omdurman (Ahfad University for Women)
Dr. RahwaMussie, Chair CGS, had participated in the two-day partner meeting in Ahfad University for Women in Sudan (May9-10, 2015). During this meeting, partners discussed the issues about the processes of end-project activities, visit arrangement for project evaluators, pending activities, the PhD students’ visit to regional Universities and future collaboration strategies. Accordingly, the partners agreed to complete all pending activities up to mid-June, including the PhD students’ visit to regional Universities, sending financial as well as activity reports to NORAD, hosting the project evaluators and submitting copies of publications to donors. Both partners (AAU and AUW) have showed great interest infuture collaborations.