Can Amhara based Universities be the change agents of the entire nation?

The 17th session of the Forum of Public Universities in the Amhara region took place from July 20 through 21, 2018. The University of Gondar who hosted the two day summit organized the event that would be crucial to the stability, progress and thought process of the universities in the state of Amhara.

Ten University’s in the region and their higher officials, university board members, regional bureau heads, non-governmental organization’s representatives and other invited guests took part and posed some interesting, but real, questions that will have a lot of people interested in the future of higher education.

Such forums have been conducted in the past and this seventh forum is quite different because of the structure and organization that has been displayed among the universities. By implementing the numerous suggestions and by learning from each other’s experiences, the forum will be able to conjure up much needed insight on the way forward.

Dr. Desalegn Mengesha who is the president of the University of Gondar and who is the President of the forum expressed his delight in the work that is being done regarding the meeting. “This is a forum where we get a chance to create a path and road map to further our cause on a multitude of agendas” said the Dr. Desalegn.

Many people may not be aware of the hard pressed issues that goes on in officiating and elevating an educational institution to new heights. But one thing is for sure and that is that the presidents and higher officials of the various universities held nothing back when speaking bluntly about their concerns, draw backs, strengths and weaknesses.

Dr. Birhanu who is the Administrative vice president of Bahar Dar University presented a number of striking initiatives that will, in the hopes of a consorted effort, bring universities in the region on a common road map.

“Each university should work according to their overall funding and budget. Some universities may not be able to take steps like the bigger and older universities, but in essence we could still set policies that will allow us to work towards a common goal” said Dr. Birhanu.

Anti-corruption messages, discipline polices, students union reforms, responsibilities of student magazines, peace and security and as well as proposing to increase the nationwide mandate setting students meals to above 15 birr were all brought up during the discussions.

The community service engagements that were in effect for the past 6 months, at the various universities, were stellar and should be applauded. The forum, for the most part, focused on problem areas in the region and subsequently foreshadowed ways in fixing those issues.

It could be said that one state is just a small piece of a puzzle where not too many change is eminent on a larger scale. But this would be a wrong assumption. It must be said that the energy being exerted to raise the Amhara region’s universities and elevating their position is an ongoing journey that is interconnected to the wider growth of the country. As a developing and prospective region the state of Amhara and its institutions just might, as one student union representative put it, uplift the country as a whole. At least for now it could be said that the 17th session of the Forum of Public Universities in the Amhara region has hit its mark and is aiming to work towards progress.

By Samuel Malede| Public & International Relations Directorate