UoG hosted the second annual “projects reporting and reviewing forum”, on April 7, 2015, at science Amba conference hall, college of medicine and health sciences. Among the 25 active joint-venture projects that UoG currently has, the forum entertained thorough discussion on the performances of 14 selected ones. This year’s forum was similarly organized jointly as the year before by three parties: college of medicine and health sciences, community service directorate, and project monitoring and evaluation office of plan and data directorate. The forum was meant to spotlight and share experiences from the success and challenge stories of every project presented, so as to ensure the sustainability of the existing projects and move them forward with a minimal impediment.
UoG has long been engaged in joint-venture projects of varying nature, with both national and international partners. It currently has strong partnerships with over 90 national and international agencies including 31 universities in 13 countries around the world. The primary reason for establishing these partnerships include: increasing mutually beneficial joint research and collaborative projects, promoting cultural and knowledge exchange through staff and students exchange programs, and increasing the international profile and competitiveness of their institutions
Besides, under the UoG’s context, these joint projects have had instrumental role in enabling the university to travel extra miles in terms of all its engagement areas that other wise could have been impossible with the limited resources allocated from the government. Generally, Projects are “cutting edges of development” as defined by Gittinger. Therefore, the need for regular and timely supervision, monitoring, and evaluation scheme is crucial to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the projects in meeting their targeted objectives. Taking this into account, UoG’s highest managing bodies and responsible offices of the university came into an agreement on the need for organizing: “projects report and review forum”, biannually, during which projects would be monitored and evaluated face-to-face by letting the project owners publicly present their respective project’s performance report. Accordingly, the succession of last year’s first review and consultative forum was convened this year on April 7, 2015, for the second time, with a similar theme as the previous year: “Learning from Experiences and Guiding the Paths”
The forum was officially opened by Dr. Takele Tadesse, Vice president for Research and Community services. According to the vice president, currently, UoG has around 25 active joint-venture community service projects involved in practical actions. These projects are evidences as “we are living up to our motto and values! –committed to serve the country, proudly community servant”. In conjunction with this, Dr. Takele quoted Jole Baker’s saying to reinforce his enthusiastic belief of UoG’s engagement on practical community service actions: “ vision without action is a mere dream, Action without vision is time wasting, Vision and action can change the world”. In his view, “this forum is an excellent opportunity for project owners and implementers to flag their accomplishments and their contribution for the wellbeing of the community and for making our university an exemplary service provider”. On the other hand, Dr. Takele didn’t refrain to highlight on the poor documentation, reporting and promoting tradition there exists among the project holders. In his own words, he said: “Although we have done exemplary community service projects, we haven’t been successful in documenting reporting and promoting all of what you have been doing. Indeed, this has been one of the feedbacks we get in a recent meeting …”
The morning session of the forum entertained a total of 9 projects while the after noon session was meant for the remaining 5 projects and the general discussion. All projects have had a number of success stories of their own. For instance, they gave chance to: diversify and expand services related to the project areas; transfer practical knowledge to both sides of the partners; establish new strong associations diabetic association); secure materials, equipments and other facilities; build the capacity of stakeholders; create enabling environment for research; enhance the number of publications; produce data for research; further network the university with other national and international institutions, projects and scholars,
On the contrary, many of the presenters reported that myriads of factors are affecting both the processes and expected outcomes of their respective projects for which they all requested the intervention of the highest managing body and other responsible units of the University, national institutions and partners. These include: Absence of incentive, hazard allowance, and rewarding scheme; electric power fluctuation; untimely purchasing process; differences in financial management processes between the partners; unavailability of resources; poor attitude and sense of dependability among the community, staff and faculty; poor infrastructure in the outreach sites; poor communication, promotion, record and database management; and so on.
Some of the key lessons learned from these projects include: Projects can be initiated from scratch (KDP); new protocols have to be developed before the projects phase out, and have to be made institutional; projects have to always aim at group work, and multidisciplinary approach; projects would be successful if they involve as much foreign partners as possible; projects have to go according to the national interest and strategic plan of the respective ministries and institutions; projects need to meet the demands of the donor agencies; project owners are always required to track reports continuously not at the end of the term or year…
Towards the end of the afternoon program, hot general discussion was held among the highest management body of the university, project owners, and participants representing the various units of the university. The University’s president, Prof. Mengesha Admassu, has responded to many of the issues raised during the occasion. He began by highlighting the reason why various units of the university are engaged in projects: “It is not by mere chance that we are undertaking projects. In the first place, it is our institutional obligation. Secondly, it is one of the modalities we grow through, and expected to reach to the peak. Thirdly, it is one of the mechanisms through which we are expected to support both the government and the people at large. It is also the means through which we put our students in a hands-on-learning-activity”.
According to him, things are not the same as they were 10 years ago. We have much greater, diversified, and well-trained human resource and enabling situation today than before. Thus, a lot is expected from the overall faculty and researchers of the university so as to let the university be proportionally engaged in much comprehensive, and greater number projects accordingly, based on the opportunities existing today. As to some of the problems raised during the occasion, he responded that some of the problems were beyond the control of the university’s management, and responsible bodies, while others are partly resulted from the project owners themselves. In later case, some of the project owners were not co
mmunicative enough to plan and discuss issues ahead of time, and he said they have to take their share for the problems happened. The president mentioned specific cases in detail for why he thought so. He also assured to the audiences that his office is always open to discuss problematic issues ahead of time, before they cause greater risks on the life of the projects. He forwarded a saying concerning this: “if you don’t like the strategy change it! If you can not change it, change your attitude, but do not complain!”
The president has also discussed his worries and gave assignments concerning some of the activities associated to some the specific projects. For instance, according to him the adaptation and dissemination of vegetables and their exotic seeds by the KDP project demands due attention for further investigation to confirm the environmental and nutritional effect of both the seeds and the vegetables produced using them. He also forwarded his proposals to tackle some of the problems. A case in point was that the electric power interruptions problem mentioned by some of the projects can be solved by integrating these projects with the NANO technology initiative that the university has taken recently as a response to the power shortage problem facing nation at large.
Finally, thanking the project owners, the partners, and the organizing committee of the forum, Prof. Mengesha officially adjourned the event.
Reported by: Elias Menbere
Vice Director, International relations
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