More time for research?

I collaborate with several Ethiopian universities. Recently, I did some Google Scholar searches on publications from some selected universities. For example, Hawassa University has 198 references, and Arba Minch University has 66 hits. By camparison, the University of Bergen had 78000 and the University of Oslo 143000 hits. Similarly, a PubMed search showed one publication from Arba Minch University and 31 publications from Hawassa University. My own, and older University in Bergen, with a similar student population as the two Ethiopian Universities had 5900 publications.

The Ethiopian Universities are young. However, after having worked with them I notice some important differences with European universities:

  1. There are few staff with research background in Ethiopia. Many university teachers are fresh graduates from universities.
  2. The teaching and administrative load on staff at Ethiopian Universities is huge. As soon as staff receive their masters or PhD degrees, they are given higher administrative positions.
  3. On the positive side, many staff are eager to learn about research, and the number of research proposals at the universities is increasing year by year.

Recently, evaluations of higher education in Ethiopia showed the students receive training of limited practical relevance. Students are not well prepared for the tasks they meet when they start their working career.

Countries such as Ethiopia, with one of the highest expected economic growths in the world in 2010, need to strengthen their universities. I believe university teachers need to get more time to do research. This would, I think, make the teaching more research based, so the students learn from research experience in Ethiopia, and not from abstract examples found in textbooks from rich countries.

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