E&E RPCVs Group News

Help build collaborative relationships between universities where you have worked or studied and universities in Ethiopia

by Marian Haley Beil (Debre Berhan 62–64)

Following the “Return to Ethiopia,” Steve Cristofar (Addis 62–64) — one of the organizers of the trip — sent a “thank you” note to Ambassador Girma Birru, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, on behalf of all those who had participated. On October 12th Ambassador Girma responded with a letter that included the following statement:

As I have indicated during my speech at the send-off gathering at our Embassy, The Peace Corps volunteers can help the Ethiopian people in areas of education by establishing collaborations between US and Ethiopian universities . . .

The letter also included the name of a gentleman on the Embassy staff, who should be contacted by E&E RPCVs to explore a possible program of educational collaborations at the university level facilitated by RPCVs.

I asked that Steve follow-up on this suggested effort, and the following is a portion of his report:

There are currently 33 universities in Ethiopia, including many new ones; total enrollment over 100,000. Big shortage of materials, teachers, etc. Several of these [universities] have already signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with US universities.

What Ambassador Girma is asking is for RPCVs with university connections to contact their schools & try to elicit interest in cooperative arrangements with Ethiopian counterparts, in the areas of exchanges of professors; of students; joint research efforts; etc. Also, for RPCVs to suggest US university partnerships with Ethiopian universities in towns where the RPCVs taught or otherwise served. Another possibility mentioned is library-to-library relationships. Improvements in the quality of education are a major goal of the program.

[Our contact] has sent me some information on the Ethiopian university system: specifics as to where the universities are, how big they are, any specialities they may have or desire to have, and any existing collaborative relationships between Ethiopian & American universities. He stressed that they are NOT looking for financial support for such efforts, as programs already are in place for same, ie, from USAID & Dept of State. They are familiar with the logistics of setting up university-to-university collaborations.

. . .

E&ERPCV efforts could be directed toward encouraging individual RPCVs with university connections, either directly or possibly through their alumni associations, to get their institutions (or, possibly, individual professors or experts) interested in collaborating with Ethiopian institutions of higher learning. An additional area might be research papers or studies conducted by American universities that either pertain directly to Ethiopia, or that could possibly contribute to research efforts in Ethiopia.

RPCVs — if you are interested in exploring how you might be able to facilitate US university to Ethiopian university linkages, please contact Steve at

This is an exciting opportunity for us to continue our service to the people of Ethiopia.

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