Academic progress on expected level, says Dr Yechale

Academic Affairs Vice President, Dr Yechale Kebede, speaking on academic issues informed that the teaching-learning process is going on as expected and university is not leaving any stones unturned to leapfrog others to be the likes of reputed global counterparts. As one of the important pillars of the university, frequent supervisions and follow-up have been taking place and at the moment final examination is going on across the university as per the calendar.

On any structural changes, he said, no as such radical changes occurred, but new offices and units are emerging at university level like deliver-ology unit to ensure graduates to be competent enough at national and world stage. New Sawla Campus structure has been revised to optimize its work process and given ‘autonomy’ for being located 250-KM away from the mother institution.

Exemplifying about the section leaders, he said, it’s a unique practice, 380 academic staff are entrusted with tasks to monitor students’ daily activity and evaluate course offerings, continuous assessment and tutorials. On the top of this, they are expected to act as a guide and counselor to students and ensure full compliance with university’s rules and regulations from them; and of late, it’s doing well.

On Arba Minch Water Technology Institute’s (AWTi) mission, he said, it was the founding institute since 1987, from where an institute, colleges and schools originated. Being forerunner in East Africa in water and related engineering fields for many years, many of its graduates within and outside Ethiopia are teaching in different universities and occupying responsible positions as well. Five years ago dovetailed with other engineering fields it was called Arba Minch Institute of Technology; but in order to make it a centre of excellence, AMU has carved out it again as AWTi that has exclusive mandate.

On new programs in this academic year, he said, AMU commences five undergraduate programs i.e. three in College of Medicine and Health Sciences (Pharmacy, Environmental Health and Health Informatics), one each at College of Agricultural Sciences (Agricultural Economics) and Natural Sciences (Laboratory Technology in Biology). And five Master programs that includes two in Law (Human Rights & Justice Studies and Human Rights & Security Studies), GIS and Remote Sensing, Teaching Amharic, History & Cultural Heritage and Educational Planning & Management; and three PhDs (Numerical Analysis, Algebra, and Differential Equations).

He opined that Good Governance and Education Quality Forum is vital catalyst for an institution, and while operating at different levels including department, college and university, it enjoins us to have an improved service delivery for our students that ultimately ask for quality education. Further he says it revolves around four key components i.e. service delivery, teaching-learning, 1-to-5 Education and Technology Development Army and Ethical & Disciplinary issues of staff and students. In the course of time, it will be strengthened to figure out gaps so that teaching-learning environment gets reinforced.

On ‘Tracer Study,’ he said, it’s important to assess employability status of graduates and based on that data, programs can be devised, revised and tailor-made to meet the market demand. It will also help us to formulate a mechanism to enhance job prospect. And cognizant of this fact, AMU has started ‘Tracer Study’ of 2016 graduates and strengthened the office of ‘Tracer Study and Alumni’ to work more in the years to come.

When asked about digitalization of library, he said, it was carried out across all colleges and institute. However, the whole gamut of service is not up to expected level due to inadequate server capacity, which is likely to be put in place in the next quarter.

Expressing views on Higher Diploma Program, he said, it’s going on to improve the instructive skill of staff and in the last couple of years good number of staff has been trained. It covers four modules within nine months. To refine the module contents committee has been constituted and at the same time move is afoot to conduct impact assessment in this regard.

Gender equity holds the key he said, despite gaps at policy level, it gets priority at the time of placement and leadership role. An affirmative action is taken during departmental selection, tutorials are arranged and supports in cash and kind given to those needy students.

On staff ratio 0:60:40 (1st, 2nd, 3rd degrees), he said, efforts are being made to attain the target, and substantial achievement has been made in this regard; 128 staff members are pursuing Masters, 41 Specialties and 169 PhDs in Ethiopia and different global institutions.

Listing out move to increase Master students’ number, he said, we have scholarship programs within university catchment and those placed by the Ministry for 2nd and 3rd degree studies get priority. For others, we dispatch pamphlets, promote calls via media (Radio, TV and university website) thrice a year and at the moment as per university strategic plan, we have more PG students.

Exuding confidence, he said, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health and Life Skill training course was initiated by the Ministry of Health; AMU further developed the materials and submitted to subject matter editors for refinement. First year students are ought to register and attend this course in the first-semester. And being among the three pioneer universities in offering this course in 2016/17, AMU was lauded by the Ministry and many universities visited us to share experience and resources.

Further he added that to strengthen teaching-learning process, AMU will use e-learning gateway to tackle shortage of professors for graduate programs and recently has entered into contractual partnership with Lucy Consulting Engineers for the same, he signed off.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)