Improving Statistical Literacy through Graduate Programs in Ethiopia: The Case of North-South-South Collaborative Project in Jimma University
Yehenew Getachew Kifle1, Luc Ducheatu2
1Department Statistics, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia; 2Department of Biomtery & Physiology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Introduction: Jimma University (JU) is a higher learning institute in Ethiopia mandated to run various training programs also engaged in undertaking numerous research activities in different thematic areas. Recently, JU has ranked first in its teaching and research achievements in the country (MoE, 2010).

Challenges: In addressing the mandates, before few years, JU has faced chronic problems mainly in the areas of Statistics, because of insufficient professional statisticians responsible for giving statistical support including teaching, consultancy for researchers within and outside the university. Contrary to this fact, JU was highly expected to serve as a center of excellence in the areas of statistics for regional statistics offices and research centers located in the mandated areas. Insufficient teaching materials together with lack of professionals further aggravates the situation and crumbled JU's endeavor towards producing competent graduates & research outputs at good level. All these and other problems forced JU, in 2007, to critically search for solutions at a grass-root level mainly by making use of the existing opportunities in the university.

Opportunities: As a source of teaching staff, JU critically look for professional statisticians working in statistics offices, research centers and other universities, both in Ethiopia and overseas. The existence of an Inter-University collaborative program in JU with universities in Belgium was the second opportunity for the university. With aim of pulling together all these opportunities, JU being a nucleus proposed a creative North-South-South (NSS) project in Statistics, with goal of establishing collaborative efforts between South-South partners viz, Jimma, Hawassa, Addis Ababa, Gonder and Mekele Universities from Ethiopia and Eduardo Mondlane University, from Mozambique, and North partners, namely Ghent, Hasselt & Leuven Universities from Belgium.

A promising start: With this NSS initiative, a group of junior statisticians from each of the South partners involved in capacity-building programs and at the same time, able to produce relevant teaching materials in various disciplines of statistics (www.NSSbiostat.ugent.be).Currently, this collaborative initiative has resulted in running a joint graduate program, at MSc level, in various fields of applied statistics in JU and other sister universities in the south; and also enabled us to offer various statistical software and related trainings for researchers in various universities and statistics offices in Ethiopia and Mozambique. i.e, a series of software added trainings in the areas of statistical research planning and analysis, survey design and analysis, etc have been given by south and north partners to the needy community in Ethiopia. Moreover, the project enabled us to establish a strong South-South and South-North collaborations in various aspects. Further, using the established NSS link, local universities in Ethiopia are also able to involve volunteer diasporas working overseas, including Belgium, United States, Canada, etc.

Keywords: North-South South; Statistical Literacy; Jimma University; Inter-University Program

Biography: Yehenew Getachew Kifle is working in Jimma University, Ethiopia as Ass professor of Statistics and advisor of reserachers mainly in the areas of Design of Experiments and reated areas in the College of Agriculture, Jimma university.