Consortium of Ethiopian Public Universities Holds a National Conference

Consortium of Ethiopian Public Universities (CEPU) held a national conference with a theme of “Post-Conflict Recovery Challenges and Opportunities in Conflict-Torn Settings of Higher Education in Ethiopia: Implication for Peace building, Re-construction and Development at Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU) on the 15th of January 2022.

Samuel Kifle (PhD), State Minister at Ministry of Education (MoE), in his opening speech said that conflict at the national level is often the result of political activism and the inability of people to resolve their differences through discussion.

Dr. Samuel stated that educational institutions should play their part in developing a culture of dialogue and resolving conflicts through communication, and we need to have a strong curriculum that intensifies quality teaching system as a remedy.

More than 4,000 schools in the general education have been affected by the current conflict in our country and it is estimated that 17 billion birr will be required for rehabilitation. In addition, 20-25 billion birr worth of assets have been lost in the destruction of three universities in the Amhara region,” Dr. Samuel said.

On our case, conflict on the other hand has brought opportunities of creating resilient institutions, sectors as well as society; national unity has been strengthened and leadership commitment is maximized, Dr. Samuel finally added.

Professor Tassew Weldehanna, President of CEPU and AAU, stated that the attacks by the terrorist group in Amhara and Afar regions resulted in widespread displacement and massive destruction of properties and infrastructure.

As recognized by CEPU, strong and meaningful support is needed to restore Woldiya, Wollo and Makdela Amba Universities which are severely damaged by the conflict. CEPU member universities need to work together to find the right solution to the problem,” Prof. Tassew said.

According to Prof. Tassew, it is necessary to support and facilitate the massive funding, resource allocation and investment efforts of the government, the MoE and other stakeholders to restore the member Universities affected by the conflict.

Because the damage cannot be solved at once,” said Prof. Tassew, “the conference is expected to formulate international experiences and show guidance for short-, mid- and long-term problem alleviating solutions.

Prof. Tassew finally said, “Another task required to be done by CEPU in the future is to examine the real situation of member universities such as Axum, Adigrat, Mekelle and Raya Universities found in Tigray region and set directions about them.

Professor Fikre Dessalegn, President of ECSU, on his part said, during its 27 years of service, his University has made significant contributions to the development of the workforce and filling the gaps from the lowest to the highest levels of leadership and executive bodies with educated manpower.

Following the keynote speeches, Yonas Adaye (PhD), Director for Institute of Peace and Security Studies of AAU, delivered his presentation entitled, The Nature of Post-conflict Recovery, Transition and Re-construction in Relation to Higher Education (Lessons from International Perspectives).

Detail briefings related to severe damages supported with pictorial representations of Weldia, Wollo and Mekdela Amba Universities as well as security challenges of Deber Tabor University, all found in Amhara region, were presented by their respective presidents.

As reflected in the general discussion of the national conference: questions, comments and suggestions indicated that CEPU has to find out the root causes of the conflict, infer mechanisms for sustainable peace building and to rehabilitate the Universities affected by the conflict.

The conference also suggested points how to work on the healing of misleading rhetoric of our history imprinted in the minds of this generation and lead to tolerance, common understanding and togetherness.

The other point stressed in the discussion was that there are a number of mysterious steps like the recently release of prisoners taken by the government and the CEPU should have a platform enabling it to deal such national issues with the Prime Minister of the country.

Prof. Fikre Dessalegn, as a concluding remark of the conference finally stated that MoE has already assigned the CEPU member universities in three clusters to facilitate the restoration of the highly damaged Weldia, Wollo and Mekdela Amba Universities.

Editor: Abraham Girmay