I. Background

Addis Ababa University (AAU) launched a PhD program in International and Comparative Education in the second semester of 2010/11. In June 2014 AAU decided to establish a Centre for Comparative Education and Policy Studies (CCEPS) in order to run and manage the program. This centre is organized under the auspices of the College of Education and Behavioural Studies with a clear mission to study educational systems, policies, reforms, innovations and outcomes in international and comparative perspectives. Since its establishment, CCEPS has admitted five cohorts of students to its PhD programme. AAU has prioritized the continuation of the PhD programme in International and Comparative Education in connection with the AAU-Sweden Research Cooperation Programme, “Support to research training and capacity building at Addis Ababa University 2018–2023”.

This six month technical report to Addis Ababa University, SIDA projects coordination office, contains a brief description and an analysis of the Research Training Partnership Programme in International and Comparative Education for the period from 01/07/2019 to 31/12/2019.

 II. Activities Planned and Accomplishment in the first half of 2019/2020

 A. AAU, CCEPS Doctoral student visit to university of Gothenburg in Sweden

During the first half of 2019/2020 project period, CCEPS has planned to send 17 PhD students to the University of Gothenburg to engage in their PhD thesis work which is at different stages. The following table summarizes planned activities from the PhD students at different cohorts during their stay in Gothenburg.

No. Cohort Number of Students Planned Activity During Stay in Gothenburg
1 Cohort 2 5 Write of the final manuscript
2 Cohort 3 8 Write of the final manuscript
3 Cohort 4 4 Preliminary data analysis and preparation for advanced research seminar I (upgrading seminar)
  Total 17  

Due to various reasons the number of students that CCEPS managed to send to the University of Gothenburg during the first half of 2019/2020 project implementation period was 13. Failure to fulfill Swedish visa regulation was reason for 2 students from cohort 3 to fail to visit Gothenburg, while failure to fulfill CCEPS requirement to travel to Gothenburg was reason for 1 student from cohort 4 not to travel to Gothenburg University. Those students who vested Gothenburg University engaged in the activities as per the joint plan of CCEPS and University of Gothenburg. The progress of the students was monitored and evaluated using various mechanisms including seminar examinations; supervisors meetings in Gothenburg and Addis Ababa; coordinators meetings through email, online video discussion platforms, and face-to-face meetings in Gothenburg and Addis Ababa; and meetings and consultations with PhD students in Gothenburg and Addis Ababa. The results of the monitoring and evaluation have shown that PhD students stay in Gothenburg was fruitful in pushing PhD students towards the completion of their PhD studies.

Currently CCEPS and Gothenburg university coordinators are engaging in discussions with supervisors and PhD students in cohort 2 and 3 in thesis quality checking arrangements using plagiarism checking software in the University of Gothenburg and final thesis submission plans so as to organize thesis defenses. As the result of such discussions one PhD student from cohort 2 has already submitted his thesis for plagiarism checking and this thesis is hoped to be signed by supervisors very soon and submitted for defense. It is also expected that some more theses will follow the same process in the month of January 2020. All the 3 cohort four students who stayed in Gothenburg have presented their preliminary analysis in the upgrading seminar in November 2019. The evaluation results of the cohort four students thesis have shown that students have made tremendous progress during their stay in Gothenburg.

   B. Visiting Ethiopian supervisors to university of Gothenburg

During the first six months project implementation of the 2019/2020 CCEPS has a plan to organize visit for 7 Ethiopian supervisors to the University of Gothenburg. However, CCEPS was able to implement 5 visits in two rounds in the months of November and December, 2019. During the visits CCEPS staffs were able to involve in joint supervision of PhD students with their Swedish counterparts, undertake seminar examinations, and participate in supervisors meetings. One staff member from CCEPS has presented his ongoing research work in an open seminar in the University of Gothenburg. This has contributed in promoting research culture at CCEPS.

  C. Academic international conference for doctoral students and academics

CCEPS and University of Gothenburg Department of Education and Special Education together organized an academic international conference for International and Comparative Education doctoral students and academics on December 13 and 14, 2019 in Addis Ababa. The conference was attended by 55 guests from Ethiopia, Sweden and USA. The conference proceeding included 2 key note speeches by renown scholars in the field international and comparative education from University of Wisconsin Madison in USA and University of Uppsala in Sweden; 15 conference papers presented by PhD students and academics from Addis Ababa University and Gothenburg University; and Swedish cultural show by the Swedish academics who participated in the conference. The conference opening ceremony was attended by the Minister for Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Education; Dean of College of Education and Behavioral Studies from Addis Ababa University; Counselor and Head for research partnership programs from Swedish Embassy in Addis Ababa; and Coordinator for the SIDA Projects Coordination Office from Addis Ababa University. The international conference was successful in many ways including, among others, achieving what was planned, the quality of papers and, above all, the discussions made and experiences shared among the participants of the conference.

Using the opportunity of the international conference one of the key note speakers and World known scholar in the field of Comparative Education, Professor Thomas Popkewitz from University of Wisconsin Madison in USA has made a public lecture in Addis Ababa University for PhD students and academic staff of the university when the attendance and participation was very high. It was expressed in the conference that some of the joint presentations of conference papers by the supervisors are and their PhD students will be published in reputable international journals.

  D. Visiting Swedish supervisors to Addis Ababa University

During the first six months of 2019/2020 17 GU supervisors’ visits were planned. In two rounds 10 Swedish supervisors were able to visit Addis Ababa University, Center for Comparative Education and Policy Studies (CCEPS). 90% of these visits were combined with the visit to Addis Ababa for an academic international conference so as to minimize cost and efficiently utilize existing small funds for both purposes. As mechanism to achieve both purposes of supervision and conference participation dates of stay for in Addis Ababa for the Swedish professors was extended some days beyond the actual international conference dates.

   E. Supervision by Swedish researchers

PhD students from CCEPS have got continues supervision from Swedish supervisors in Sweden and Addis Ababa and also in different modalities including several face-to-face meetings, supervision by using online platforms including email and video assisted discussion, and in supervisors meetings held in Gothenburg university and Addis Ababa University. Such intensive engagement of Swedish supervisors with the PhD students is contributing to improving the quality of the PhD thesis’s that students are working on, monitoring the progression of the students and ultimately meeting international standards.

   F. Support to PhD student with disabled child

A financial support for PhD student with a disabled child who was not able to travel to Sweden to work closely with his Swedish supervisor and using Gothenburg university resources was meant to offer in the 2018/2019 project year. However, due to delays created as the result of collecting the relevant documentation that can attest the actual expenses of connectivity of the student with the Swedish supervisor and a child care expenses that he incurred so as to get time and concentrate in his PhD job, the payment was effected in the first half of 2019/2020 as roll over activity from 2018/2019 project year.

  G. Female students support

Due to various internal excessive workload related reasons in CCEPS the female students support for the first half of 2019/2020 was not implemented in time. However, female students in the center were informed that the amount of the support indicated in the project will be reimbursed as soon as possible.

  H. Language check (PhD Thesis Language Editing)

This is activity is meant to improve the quality of best PhD dissertations produced and successfully defended by students who are participants/beneficiaries of this research partnership project for online and open access publication using Addis Ababa University e-library facilities. As the implementation of this activity is totally dependent on the successful defense of PhD thesis and completion of PhD study, it was not implemented in the first half of 2019/2020.

      III. Challenges Encountered

Despite the successes registered in the student supervision mentioned above there were administrative challenges encountered in the course of running the program.  Some of the challenges include-

  • There is still a space problem at Addis Ababa University. There are no adequate rooms and facilities for both the visiting professors and PhD candidates for smooth conduct of both academic and research activities. The Centre has offices and small working spaces dispersed in many building in the main campus of the AAU which has created problems for coordination and effective use existing meagre resources.
  • The Centre has no secretary or administrative assistance and this has created an overwhelming burden of jobs on the Centre, which in some cases is beyond the capacity of single individual to handle.
  • The Centre aspires to be a regional hub for Africa in the field of study as per the agreement document. There should be some mechanism of involving African and regional scholars towards that.

       IV. Suggestions for further improvement and conclusion

In the light of the challenges mentioned above the following suggestions need to be considered in the next period of our cooperation from both sides- the SIDA and Addis Ababa University.

In order that the Centre develops in to a full-fledged Centre pursuing academic and research activity it should be given autonomous status at the University like other Centers in the University.

The students must be equipped with adequate ICT knowhow for their research, and should be able to have adequate ICT facilities which seem to be not adequate at the Centre. Offices and office facilities should also be available for both visiting professors and students at the AAU adequately.

To manage the partnership project activities from CCEPS properly considering employment of project assistant and office secretary has paramount importance. These personnel can facilitate and follow-up project activities timely and with better quality.