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A Delegation from Ambo University Visited PSI

A delegation from Ambo University visited PSI on December 13, 2023. The delegation included Dr. Belay Yadeta, the Dean of the School of Natural Resources, Dr. Achalu Chimdi, the Deputy Director of Research and Community Service, and Dr. Gudeta Nepir, the Coordinator of the School of Graduate Studies.

H.E. Prof. Beyene Petros, the Director General of PSI, warmly welcomed the delegation. Prof. Beyene gave them an overview of PSI, including its vision, mission, values, organizational chart, research departments and functions, and partnership activities.

H.E. Prof. Beyene highlighted that PSI is home to a highly qualified and dynamic team of researchers who are actively involved in conducting research studies and public policy analysis. He emphasized that the researchers at PSI go above and beyond their regular duties and actively seek grants locally and internationally. Prof. Beyene pointed out that PSI researchers have a solid track record in research and have collaborated with various international organizations such as the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Canadian-based organizations such as the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and many others. Partnerships with these organizations have enabled PSI researchers to contribute to important international development initiatives and projects.

H.E. Prof. Beyene further mentioned that PSI actively provides consultancy and advisory services that not only contribute to the institute's income but also benefit the government. When researchers receive grants, consulting projects or training opportunities, PSI charges a fee for the services provided, which is in addition to covering overhead costs. This ensures that the institute is self-sustaining and can continue to support its research activities. Furthermore, H.E. Prof. Beyene emphasized that the PSI creates various incentives to motivate its researchers.

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H.E. Prof. Beyene explained that PSI has recognized the importance of closing the critical mass gap and is employing various strategies to address this challenge. One of these strategies is to seek collaboration with research institutions in Ethiopia and internationally. By collaborating with other institutions, PSI can leverage additional resources and access a broader range of expertise. These collaborations allow PSI to participate in joint research projects, share knowledge and best practices and expand its research capacity.

In addition, the PSI actively participates in networking activities to establish links with researchers and stakeholders from different fields. This networking helps to foster collaborations and provides opportunities for knowledge exchange. By working with a wide range of partners, the PSI can leverage different perspectives and expertise to improve the quality and impact of its research.

PSI takes an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together expertise from different disciplines to address complex policy issues and fill gaps in the critical mass. Talent recruitment attracts qualified researchers, building critical mass in specific areas and increasing the depth of research. Strategic focus on specific policy areas and effective allocation of resources establishes PSI as an authority in these areas. External partnerships with organizations promote knowledge sharing and collaboration in research, further strengthening critical mass. Through these strategies, PSI improves its research capacity, provides valuable insights and contributes to evidence-based policymaking.

H.E. Prof. Beyene explained PSI is actively engaged in improving the community. Recently, PSI conducted an in-depth study on the lower Awash Valley, which aimed to transform the area from a flood source to a productive and irrigable area. To achieve this transformation, PSI has identified several strategies. First, a comprehensive hydrological analysis will be conducted to understand the flooding patterns, water flow and drainage systems to enable the development of effective flood control strategies. PSI will also recommend infrastructure development projects, including the construction of dams, reservoirs and flood control structures to regulate water flow and store excess water for irrigation purposes. In addition, the introduction of modern and efficient irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and sprinkler systems will optimize water use and promote sustainable agricultural practices. PSI will work with local authorities and stakeholders to develop land use plans that minimize the risk of flooding and increase agricultural productivity. Community engagement activities will raise awareness of flood management and sustainable irrigation practices and ensure the participation and support of local communities and farmers. Finally, PSI will provide policy recommendations to government agencies that include land use planning guidelines, water management regulations and incentives for the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. Through these strategies and in collaboration with the community, PSI aims to transform the lower Awash Valley into a thriving, irrigable area that protects against flooding, promotes sustainable agriculture and enhances community well-being.

H.E. Prof. Beyene explained that PSI is currently undertaking a significant project that addresses the reasons for the high failure rates of Ethiopian students in the National Matriculation Examination and related issues. This project reflects PSI's commitment to addressing critical challenges in education and finding possible solutions. By conducting in-depth research, analyzing data and collaborating with stakeholders, PSI aims to shed light on the underlying factors that contribute to the high failure rates. The research findings can then inform evidence-based policy recommendations and interventions to improve educational outcomes for Ethiopian students. This project underscores PSI's commitment to contributing to the development of effective educational strategies that improve student success and ultimately empower Ethiopian youth.

According to Professor Beyene, PSI is partnering with several universities, including Addis Ababa University. This partnership reflects PSI's commitment to promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing with reputable academic institutions. Collaboration with universities enables PSI to utilize the expertise and research capabilities of faculty members and students. Collaboration can include joint research projects, sharing resources and data, organizing seminars or workshops and promoting academic exchange. By partnering with Addis Ababa College and other universities, PSI can strengthen its research efforts, expand its network and contribute to evidence-based policy making through rigorous academic collaboration.

H.E. Prof. Beyene said PSI is enthusiastic about collaborating with Ambo University. Establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations can provide a framework for cooperation and outline mutual interests. Once the MOU is signed, PSI and Ambo University can work together in various areas of common interest. These areas may include joint research projects, sharing of expertise and resources, organizing academic events, and facilitating student and faculty exchanges. Collaborating with Ambo University will enable PSI to tap into the university's specific knowledge and strengths while contributing its own expertise. This partnership has the potential to foster valuable research outcomes, promote academic growth, and ultimately contribute to evidence-based policymaking.

H.E. Ato Teferie Tiyau, Deputy Director General of PSI, highlights that PSI is capable of conducting a wide range of public policy research. The scope of PSI's research extends across diverse policy areas, allowing them to address a broad spectrum of societal challenges. Whether it involves economic policies, social issues, governance, environmental concerns, or other relevant topics, PSI has the capacity to delve into various domains of public policy. This flexibility enables PSI to contribute valuable insights and evidence that can inform policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation. By maintaining a comprehensive approach and a broad research scope, PSI aims to tackle complex policy issues and provide meaningful contributions to societal development and decision-making processes.

Dr. Desalegne Begna, the lead researcher at PSI, emphasizes that what sets PSI's research apart from that of other institutions is its depth and breadth, as well as its policy implications for decision-makers. PSI's research endeavours go beyond surface-level analysis, delving deeply into complex issues to uncover comprehensive insights. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach and drawing upon diverse expertise, PSI ensures a broad perspective that considers various factors and dimensions of the subject matter under investigation. Moreover, PSI researchers prioritize the practical application of their findings, aiming to provide actionable recommendations that can inform policy-making processes. This commitment to bridging the gap between research and policy ensures that PSI's work has a tangible impact on shaping effective policies and promoting evidence-based decision-making at various levels.

Dr. Desalegne said PSI is capable of conducting any type of public policy research, with the exception of laboratory-based studies. This implies that PSI has the flexibility and expertise to engage in a wide range of research methodologies and approaches to address public policy issues. Whether it involves quantitative analysis, qualitative studies, literature reviews, case studies, or other research methods, PSI is well-equipped to undertake comprehensive research projects that contribute to evidence-based policy-making. The focus is on generating policy-relevant insights and recommendations that can inform and shape effective policies for the benefit of society.

Dr. Desalegne highlights that PSI researchers are not only engaged in conducting research but are also able to contribute to universities by teaching courses and advising students. This indicates PSI's willingness to support academic institutions such as Ambo University in enhancing their teaching and learning processes. PSI researchers can bring their expertise and practical insights to the classroom, enriching students' understanding of public policy and its real-world implications. They can serve as guest lecturers, deliver workshops, or even collaborate with university faculty in designing and delivering courses related to their areas of expertise. Additionally, PSI researchers can provide guidance and mentorship to students, offering valuable insights, research opportunities, and career advice in the field of public policy. By actively engaging with universities, PSI contributes to the academic development of students, fosters knowledge exchange, and strengthens the connection between research and education.

The delegation explained that Ambo University and its pillars of research, community engagement, and teaching and learning.  Dr. Gudeta said Ambo University, established in 1939 EC, is one of the oldest higher learning institutions in Ethiopia. Originally a school, it has undergone various stages of development over the years. During the Italian invasion in 1928 EC (1935), all schools, including Ambo's, were closed and repurposed by the invaders. However, after the invasion ended in 1933 EC (1940), the Ethiopian government restored schools, and Ambo's school became operational again. The university is located in Ambo, the capital of West Shewa Zone of Oromia Regional State.

Dr. Gudeta added that in 1939 EC (1946), the school transitioned into the Ambo School of Agriculture, the first agricultural school in Ethiopia. Over time, the school faced challenges such as teacher shortages during World War II but managed to reopen with a new organization. In 1951 EC (1958), the school was renamed as Ambo Agriculture and Forestry Secondary School, and in 1960 EC (1967), it became Ambo Institute of Agriculture, offering a two-year post-secondary diploma program. The institution underwent further transformations, including becoming Ambo Junior College of Agriculture in 1969 EC (1974) and Ambo College of Agriculture in 1984 EC (1992). In 1995 EC (2002), the college expanded its academic programs and started offering undergraduate degree programs. In 2008, it was promoted to the status of an autonomous university college, and in 2009, it officially became Ambo University. Presently, the university offers a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs across multiple campuses, with a vision to become one of the most prestigious universities in Ethiopia, excelling in academics, research, and community service.

The university's establishment as a school in 1939 and subsequent evolution into a university reflects its commitment to providing higher education and contributing to the development of various disciplines. With schools dedicated to agriculture, health, technology, and more, Ambo University offers a diverse range of academic programs and opportunities for students.The expansion of the university to include master's and Ph.D. programs indicates a focus on advanced education and research. The Ph.D. programs in plant patology, agricultural entomology, cooperative, and language showcase the university's specialization in these areas. By offering advanced degrees, Ambo University aims to contribute to the development of specialized knowledge and expertise in these fields.

Furthermore, the presence of branches in different locations indicates the university's commitment to expanding access to education and engaging with various communities. These branches likely serve as centers for education, research, and community outreach, allowing the university to extend its impact and promote regional development.

Finally, H.E. Prof. Beyene stresses the importance of effective implementation of partnerships, rather than just initiating them. He proposes a three-step approach to address this challenge. First, identify common areas of collaboration based on shared goals, complementary expertise, and common interests. Second, formalize the partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the terms, objectives, and expectations. Finally, ensure active implementation of the MOU by maintaining regular communication, coordination, and joint planning. H.E. Prof. Beyene asserts that meaningful implementation requires a shared understanding, ongoing commitment, and collaborative efforts from all stakeholders involved in the partnership.

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