The renowned Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development- ECDD officially agreed to join the disability mainstreaming efforts of UoG. As spelt out on the MOU signed between the two institutions on April 17, 2015, the main objective of the partnership is to create an inclusive infrastructure and learning environment in UoG for full and equal participation of students with disabilities, through integrating human, material and financial resources of both institutions. The agreement was signed by the respective leaders of the two institutions: Prof. Mengesha Admassu, president of UoG, and Ms. Yetnebersh Nigussie, Executive Director of ECDD, at the event organized in UoG,s Senate hall. Representatives from the various responsible units of the university, and staff of ECDD attended the event.
Disability and its associated countless problems have for long been the main cross-cutting agenda of UoG, both in the community and its campuses. In this regard, many years have been counted, since it established a center called “Community Based Rehabilitation” which has mainly been engaged on issues of disability. It has also an office mandated to address disability issues throughout the university. Besides, it recently established a “Disability research center” . The university has also developed institutional policy document concerning disability.
Recognizing some of these opportunities, in her remark before the MOU was signed, Ms. Yetnebersh, acknowledged that these resources would create a fertile ground to meet the future common goals of her organization and UoG, by knocking down the widely prejudiced attitude prevailing in the society concerning disability. In line with this, she added: “the MOU to be signed is the first step heralding the beginning of our journey together, to fight problems associated with disability…and bring inclusive development in the nation”.
Prof. Mengesha Admassu, the president of UoG, in his part, pronounced the greater prospects that would be created due to the new ally- ECDD, in joining the long aspired visions of the University concerning disability. He also reminded the other opportunity that his university has and could be an additional resource for the mutual interests of the two institutions: “the occupational health educational program which is for the first time established in the university”
The academic vice president of the university, Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, during the occasion, also confirmed his institution’s commitment, not only to alleviate the problems of disabled students who are enrolled in almost all departments of the university, but also to fight the attitudinal problems existing in the wider community about the issue of disability.
The integral effort of both institutions is believed to bridge the gap between the worlds of disability and education in the UoG. In specific terms, as recognized on the MOU signed, the shared focal points of interventions by both institutions would be on:
- Amending the university’s senate legislation, policies, strategies and other internal work rules to promote and ensure the equality and inclusion of students with disabilities in the academic career.
- Establishing uniform examination standards for all University examinations, including adaptation of exam methodologies, invigilation procedures, and arrangements to accommodate the needs of all students with disabilities;
- Modifying of University buildings, including classrooms, libraries, dormitory rooms and toilets, laboratories, conference rooms, and sport fields, to make them accessible for wheelchair users and other students with disabilities;
- Reviewing the existing ICT resources and prepare a plan to ensure that all University ICT resources are accessible and maintained for visually impaired and other users with disabilities;
- Identifying research priorities in the area of disability and development, and encourage and support individual student and faculty research in this area;
- Strengthening the Disability Center and its services to students with disabilities;
- Enhancing the awareness of teaching staff, support personnel, and students about disability and the specific needs of students with disabilities; and
- Searching funds
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