Rooted in the development of Africa and its people

Unisa’s vision to be the African university in the service of humanity epitomises its roots and pride in the growth and development of Africa and its people. Most importantly, it responds to the continent’s educational needs. This is the ethos that inspired the establishment of the university’s Ethiopia Learning Centre, which was inaugurated in January 2007 as a practical manifestation of the institution’s vision outside the borders of South Africa. The centre is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, operating from a temporary office in the centre of the city that is very close to the central business district while they work on securing a permanent place.

The main functions of the centre include representing Unisa in Ethiopia in terms of diplomatic communication with the government of Ethiopia, as well as student support. The centre works with the government of Ethiopia, which is represented by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the African Union (AU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the South African Embassy.

The centre supports students in the course of their student walk from application to graduation and afterwards in terms of facilitating student support programmes through workshops, seminars, one-on-one consultations, giving both physical and online library support and training, and supporting the alumni chapter, among other things.

In the 2019 academic year, the total student population was 690. Of this, 570 (83%) were doctoral students and 85 (12%) were master’s students. This goes along with the mandate that is given to Unisa in the bilateral agreement with the government of Ethiopia to focus on higher degrees. At the end of 2019, the centre graduated 71 students; 61 earned their doctoral degrees.

Impact in the community

About 85% of the centre’s graduates are master’s and doctoral students, the majority of whom are public university lecturers sponsored by the Ethiopian government. This achievement symbolises the impact that Unisa, through the centre, has had in the development of the capacity of academics in Ethiopian higher education.

The institution is also playing a remarkable role in building the capacity of professionals in other sectors too. Unisa graduates in Ethiopia have attained leadership roles in sectors such as government institutions, public enterprises, private enterprises, justice and police departments, public health institutions, NGOs and international organisations.

The Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, for example, who is currently the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, is also a Unisa doctoral graduate.

Over the years, the centre is gradually increasing the number of doctoral graduates every academic year: 34 in 2016, 51 in 2017, 59 in 2018, and 61 in 2019. While the centre is small, it contributed 17% of the total doctoral graduates at Unisa in the 2019 academic year. Through the Ethiopian Learning Centre, Unisa continues to promote and disseminate knowledge, and strives to serve causes that advance communities and humanity in Africa.

Source: University of South Africa