COVID-19 and ethnic tension present two of the most challenging issues in contemporary Ethiopian higher education. Higher education is among the sectors seriously influenced by the COVID-19. On the one hand the operation of higher education institutions has been almost entirely interrupted while the challenges will likely continue through the coming academic years. On the other hand, the institutions have mounted commendable multi-dimensional response schemes in helping fight the pandemic. The pandemic has shown strengths of universities as it has also exposed their vulnerability; it has generated valuable lessons as it has also implied future directions. Meanwhile, Ethiopian universities have been facing challenges of ethnic tensions long before COVID-19. Recent events have even exacerbated such tensions at a broader scale, which will have direct implications for the already vulnerable multiculturalism among the higher education [student] population. These issues and more will be discussed in this session.

Guiding questions:

  • How does the overlap between COVID-19 and ethnic tension present a threat to the continuity of peaceful teaching learning process?
  • What are some of the measures the government and higher education institutions can take in addressing these challenges?
  • How can the response by universities to COVID-19 generate lessons that can help in the future of higher education?

Expected outcomes:

  • An appreciation of the nature and magnitude of the challenges from COVID-19 and ethnic tensions in the higher education environment.
  • Identifying some of the strengths and weaknesses in the response for to these challenges, and to draw lessons for the future.
  • Identifying some of the strategic approaches universities and government can employ in responding to similar situations in the future.

Target group:

The target participants for this session include administrators/representatives of higher education institutions, representative of MoSHE, Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA), faculty, teachers and researchers, students, representatives of concerned agencies, private companies, nonprofits and other stakeholders.

Session moderators:

  • Dereje Tessema, PhD
  • Ayenachew Aseffa, PhD

Session panelists:



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