Queen’s University launches research collaboration with Ethiopian university

Queen’s University in Kingston has launched a unique partnership with a university in Ethiopia. The $24-million project will see teachers from the African country further their training in Canada, while hundreds of students will get funding for a post-secondary education.

Two professors from the University of Gondar moved to Kingston a few months ago. They were welcomed at a ceremony held at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre on the grounds of Queen’s.

Molalign Adugna and Mulugeta Chala both teach in Ethiopia and, for the next four years, they will be PhD students at Queen’s. Chala will be studying chronic pain and Adugna will be studying effective research techniques. They are first of many teachers-turned-students to join the 10-year, $24-million academic and research collaboration funded by the Mastercard Foundation. It is an organization that helps economically disadvantaged young people in Africa access education.

“Queen’s University and the University of Gondar submitted distinct proposals but they had very similar objectives about wanting to support young people with inclusive education so we did some matchmaking and brought the institutions together,” said Kim Kerr of the Mastercard Foundation.

But the funding is not just based at Queen’s. It will also pay the tuition of 450 African students — including those with disabilities or from areas of conflict — to attend the University of Gondar.

Under the partnership, 450 African students will become Mastercard Scholars and receive a high quality education at the University of Gondar. In total, the University will provide 290 undergraduate and 160 master’s level degrees in multidisciplinary fields that will encompass health sciences, law, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences, taking special care to recruit young people with disabilities, as well as young people from conflict-affected countries.

They will study health sciences, law and nursing. In return, 60 faculty members from the Ethiopian school will come here to further their studies to become innovative educators.

The partnership between the two schools was formed over the past nine months. They have been working closely with the Mastercard Foundation to put all the supports in place to launch the unique international academic and research program.

Members of the Kingston community will also have the chance to travel to Ethiopia to help develop the first occupational therapy program.

“There they will carry out research, contribute to the creation of training programs and help develop the first occupational therapy program in Ethiopia,” said Queen’s principal, Daniel Woolf

As for Adugna and Chala, they admit, their first challenge is to adjust to life as students and then coping with our winters.

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