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IIT-Delhi helping Ethiopia become tech-savvy

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DQW Bureau
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Many students in Ethiopia are studying engineering and technology in virtual

classrooms, some of their teachers seated on the Indian Institute of Technology

(IIT) Delhi, which is helping that country become tech-savvy.

The idea to empower Ethiopia's university students was mooted by its

ambassador to India and even its Prime Minister was eager to have an association

with IIT-Delhi.

“The Ethiopian government is making a rapid expansion in education but it

doesn't have the required infrastructure. The ambassador talked to us and then

the process moved. Even their Prime Minister was very eager for this

association,” said M Balakrishnan, Dean-Post-Graduate Studies, IIT-Delhi

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“They want to churn out tech-savvy students and here that we are playing a

role. We have designed four courses for the Addis Ababa University,” said

Balakrishnan.

He said two courses-construction technology and management, and chemical

engineering-have been taught for a semester. The other two courses-computer

engineering and manufacturing engineering -will complete their first semester in

a couple of months.

“Initially, we have a four-year agreement with Ethiopia. Our job is to

develop curriculum, set up a laboratory, give teachings both through virtual

classroom and face-to-face mode. We are also responsible for students'

evaluation. But the degree will be awarded by the Addis Ababa University,” said

Balakrishnan, Senior Professor-School of Computer Science, IIT.

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He said that Ehtiopia has set a target of producing 10,000 science and

engineering students at the higher education level in next five years or so, and

for this it has availed of the expertise of the IIT-Delhi as one of the

partners.

The elite institute is delivering the courses via a two-way video/audio link.

“This helps make interaction two-way and participatory. Students ask questions

and we answer them while sitting in our institute,” explained Balakrishnan.

At least 46 faculty members are involved in the project and the IIT-Delhi

offers up to 70 hours per week of instructions. There are around 50 students in

each semester in each course.

“During every semester, the chief instructors of all subjects go to Ethiopia

once to teach students in person. The whole idea is to make the learning process

better and smoother. We are happy with the outcome so far,” he added.

Prashant K Nanda

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