College age adult enrollment at universities in Africa and Ethiopia is 8% and 6% respectively, much lower than the global average (32%). Students in Ethiopia are facing grim prospects. Only a fraction of them proceed to preparatory school and complete college degree programs. What is more disturbing is the fact holding degrees is no longer a magic wand to unlock the power of education for a young nation. Thus, it is time to consider innovative approach that recognizes K-12 kids as co-creators of their future even without having a degree.
Higher institutions of learning are no longer viewed as ivory towers and hence universities should be in the first line in providing community service in their catchment area. Under the community service scheme, they can exert a substantial positive impact in preparing lower grade as well as high school students to be innovative in solving local problems and creating jobs for themselves.
Innovation Center at OHBD has a bold mission to connect young people to resources where they can be armed with skill sets in leadership, literacy, art and technology. The project aspires to tap on youth talent that will make them co-creators of their future. These model projects are designed to promote innovation at high schools and surrounding communities in Ethiopia. The goal is to link high schools to local as well as international resources and unlock the transforming power of local universities as well as the professional diaspora populations.
We are already taking important steps to implement this strategy. For instance, a number of our technologist supporters are building a digital platform equipped with expert database, training material for uploading and downloading. In addition, OHBD is partnering with American Spaces in Ethiopia in a number of locations that also have a university. These facilities are well equipped with latest videoconferencing rooms and laptops and readily available for use by the community.
Of the resources mentioned above, local universities are well positioned to implement the innovation project idea because of their proximity, their mission and knowledge, as well as community service obligations. They are producing the teachers and professionals who will go back into the schools and communities they serve. That is why we would like to draw heavily on local universities while supplementing this effort from local as well as international experts abroad.
Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to engage.