22 February 2014

Ethiopia: JICA to Launch New Pilot Project On Education

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has finalized preparations to launch a new project on education as it concludes the former national pilot project for Strengthening Math and Science Education in Ethiopia (SMASEE), it said on a press conference held yesterday.

JICA has been involved in Ethiopia since 1993 focusing on major development sectors such as agriculture and rural development, private sector development, infrastructure development and education. Although agriculture and rural development at a research-based level is at the top of the priority list, education also remains vital part of this cooperation, according to JICA's office in Ethiopia.

Offering training and imparting experience along with technical support go down to provinces where massive agricultural activities are practiced and research centers are available towards the country's development programs. "We basically translate all our cooperation polices to fit the country's Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP)," Jin Kimiaki, Chief Representative of JICA in Ethiopia said.

Education in particular attracts the country that seems to be ambitious in becoming a middle class economy and Japan's experience in this regard will be vital that it achieved its world-class economy through skilled man power specialized in science subjects. Thus, SMASEE, the famous pilot project on education started in March 2011 and is believed to have contributed to alleviate the insurmountable problems surrounding math and science teaching methodology. Actualizing active learning through six identified areas so-called PASPACT, stands for lesson planning, teaching methods (activity-based), facilitation of skill for instructional activities, assessment techniques, communication skill and use of teaching-learning material. "Students' performance in math, and teachers approach along with the methodology was found to be low," Ippei Shimizu, an expert on the project said.

Aiming at reaching a target group of about 2300 resource persons (300 regional trainers and 2000 key teachers who train grade 7 and 8 primary school mathematics and science teachers), the project has been effective in Amhara Regional State, Oromia Regional State and Addis Ababa. "Since we are approaching to finalize this project in July 2014 we have to come up with another project," Shimizzu explained. The new project focuses on test and evaluation of math and science subjects. From setting out question items, to administering exams the project will try to tackle problems and bring in good practices from the Japanese schools, according to him.

JICA has also been involved in road construction and infrastructure in Ethiopia, and is currently engaged in energy sector. The Addis Ababa-Debremarkos road construction is still under way and delayed due to land slide challenge, according to the chief representative. Carrying out a seismic test to find out more geothermal energy sites in the country is also another task for the organization that has already started drilling wells in Adamitulu area of Oromia region. JICA carries out various developmental activities in Ethiopia that cost it around USD 100 million every year.

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