Upon completion, the academy will enroll 1,000 students with an emphasis on science and technology
The government announced that the first talent youth academy for tech-savvy, math and science enthusiasts will be established in Burayu town, Oromia Regional State.
The 1.1-billion-Br academy will occupy 7.2ht of land and will be built by the Ministry of Science & Technology in two phases. Upon completion, it is expected to enroll 1,000 sophomore students. The academy will host 31 classrooms, two lecture halls, laboratories, 128 dormitory rooms, libraries and 39 apartments for the staff.
The Ministry is adapting the experience of South Africa and South Korea after a feasibility study was completed on the project, according to Tadesse Anbessie, director of capacity building and research at the ministry.
"The current education system does not support high-achievers and talented students," said Almaz Abebe (PhD), director general of capacity building, research and policy at the Ministry. "The new centre will give special attention to the tech-savvy youth to help them follow their passion."
The first phase, under construction by Teklebrehan Ambaye Construction since last year, will rest on a 4.1ht plot and will cost an estimated 708 million Br. Lewi Berhan Architects & Engineers has been contracted to supervise the construction for a fee of 143,763 Br a month.
The first phase, scheduled to be completed in 2019, contains a compensation package of five million Birr for farmers relocated from the construction site, while the Burayu City Administration covered an additional three million Birr.
"The construction is supposed to reach 44pc completion by last August," according to Tadesse. We could only accomplish 12pc of the project due to material price inflation and the instability around the area."
The second phase of the project, which engineers estimate will cost 400 million Br, will be initiated soon, according to Tadesse.
"We are waiting for approval for the remaining plot from the Oromia Region State," Tadesse said. "We are preparing to announce a tender to hire a contractor for the project."
Before the academy becomes operational, the Ministry has started designing the basic curriculum and requirements.
"We will soon communicate to the Ministry of Education to start the curriculum," Almaz said.
Experts celebrate the move by the Ministry and yet suggest a holistic and coordinated approach for education sector players.
"Such academies are instrumental institutions to get the most out of talented students," argues Woube Kassaye (PhD), an assistant professor at Addis Abeba University with over three decades of experience on curriculum development and education studies.
"The Ministry has to collaborate with all education sector stakeholders and experts from initiation of the project," Woube said. "The Ministry should build the capacity of the teachers too."