Community engagement is our new motto, says Dr Teklu

AMU’s Community Service endeavor is one of its potent flagship programs, which has got itself firmly entrenched by doing some notable philanthropic works for the communities. With mandate on the rise, it’s going for a paradigm shift from community service-to-engagement to make lasting impact on people it’s working for; hereafter, it will empower them so that they can be completely self-reliant.

In 2018-19, it has budget of ETB 34,032,500 while this year, it got 4.97% (ETB 49,140,900) of total outlay, which is 44.39% more. He informed that here onwards, AMU won’t merely involve in rendering service but reassuringly will evolve mutual engagement, a two-way traffic positively change community mindset; it will get them rid of dependent-syndrome, said, Community Service Directorate Director, Dr Teklu Wegayehu.

He adds that apart from adult education and various projects, legal consultancies are expanding and from its existing 7 centres, 5 more will be added at Kucha (Selamber), Boreda, Bonke (Geresse), Gidolle and Andof. And of 8 adult education centres at Chano-Dorga, Chano-Chalba, Kola-Shelle, Zeiyse-Wozeka, Sile-Shara, Zigiti-Merche and Main Campus, 4 more are added at Ganta-Bonke, Delbo (Mirab Abaya), Alige, and Lante.

Of overall 700 adults pursuing education, 300 are registered with new centres, of which 220 are in level-I and rest in level-II. Established centres have 210 in level-I and 192 in level-II; and till date, 37 adults have successfully entered into Grade 6 and pursuing their education in the mainstream schools, he added.

On impact factors, he said, Sahay Solar Projects and Mass Drug Administration across Ethiopia have left our footprints across Ethiopia; and new focus is going to make our approach much more inclusive and results also to be quite effective. However, agriculture and health are two potential areas where we need to exert more, though, REALIZE Project assures to utilize innovative approach for better results.

On other hand, there is much more to be done in health sector; therefore, it needs immediate attention. And I hope inserting healthcare activities into PG-level curriculum (CBE) will, by default, make community service everyone’s responsibility, be it students or staff, both will work for community. The proposal in this regard will be placed before Academic Council from College of Agriculture and College of Medicine and Health Sciences, he said.

Moreover, lack of commitment from some colleges bogs us down; the commitment is sporadic; they come when they need certificate for promotion, for competition or scholarship, otherwise don’t. Similarly, all 13 coordinators under my directorate agree with the goals of office, yet they aren’t equally committed.

Citing his gains, he said, JEG process has provided us adequate staff; now, both staff and stakeholders are more aware; but challenges of having no vehicles make our efforts absolutely arduous as projects are being implemented in the highlands, and most of the time, we have to trudge mountains terrain on foot; hence, we need vehicles; request in that regard has been put before AMU Management.

Commenting on technology transfer front, he said, we have planned at least six of them that include an aluminum device to remove corn kernel from cob, modified milk-agitator, a device to remove groundnuts from its shell and we may also come up with ‘fast process’ to make food items from Enset, etc. However, transfer of technology is the mandate of University-Industry Linkage and Technology Transfer Directorate.

On what delights him, he said, Sahay Solar Project has not only dispelled darkness from those far-flung areas but has also transformed society by ensuring unimpeded health services, which were impossible. Now government clinic offers emergency services all day long and at night as well, it has changed the healthcare scenario; but now we want to train focus on water pumping system as situation in this regard is acute in the region and zone is ready to cooperate in this aspect, he emphasized.

Expressing concern, he said, last year we couldn’t achieve two major activities i.e. Construction of Community Radio Station and ‘Selbaj Tara point’ at Sikela Market, both got stuck mainly due to non-cooperative contractors, who, after taking full amount, didn’t do the work. Hope, AMU is in process to take legal action to recover the paid sum with penalties from them.

He informed that participation of AMU staff in community service is fluctuating, some need incentive but now Ministry of Science and Higher Technology (MOSHE) has clearly defined education by categorizing teaching-learning, research and community service into percentile such as 60%-25%-15% respectively that ultimately makes community service mandatory. More female staff will come forth to join community service, he revealed.

Expressing optimism, he said, ‘‘I will try my level best to forge global collaboration; there are few national stakeholders working with us and Ministry of Agriculture has provided fund to conduct trials of pesticides on fields, and hope more will be on the platter, he summed up.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)