KIBUR College is an institution of higher education currently awarding academic degrees in five disciplines. Envisioning private tertiary education in Ethiopia to rise back to its intended dignity and standard, the college continues to pay due focus on quality and employability of graduates at its fullest capacity.
As the college continues to evolve and shape future leaders, Capital’s Metasebia Teshome reached out to Desalegn Mekuria, President of KIBUR College, for in-depth insights of the his institution as well his thoughts on the Ethiopian education system. Excerpts;
Capital: How was KIBUR College conceived?
Desalegn: Prior to the establishment of KIBUR College, I and my team had been working in the education sector for the last 18 years in different levels. We first started from Beteseb Academy which provided education from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. After that of course we sent off our students to various universities and colleges. However there was always a lingering feeling of the rift in the education system as in most cases students face huge unemployment despite industries booming.
We thus set course to solve this gap at the higher education and real life world. Following our analysis we worked day and night to make a conducive environment where students are equipped with important competencies pertinent to the real world and that is how KIBUR came to be.
It has now been a little over one and a half years since the college’s establishment and we offer education services in; Marketing Management, Business and Technology, Business Management, Information Technology, and Computer Science starting from TVT to degree level.
The gap we have spotted in the industry is the provision of little information about higher education and the disparity between year-on-year graduates who often face unemployment as they are not prepped enough for the real world. Due to this, KIBUR was established to bridge the gap by offering quality and skill based education.
We have also worked valiantly to become an internationally accepted education center by giving quality education as we are members of the African business school and Business education alliance in USA.
In relation to the concrete skill that we offer, we implement experiential learning theories which mean learning by doing. As a result, our students get the best of both worlds, that is, good academic credentials and work force skills to shape the nation.
Capital: How are you working to engage students in career paths, whilst they wait to join the higher education system?
Desalegn: We have been in the education sector for a long time starting from the lower level to higher education. This has given us an opportunity to see the whole process and the gap in the system. Education centers more often than not do not give students basic skills they need before joining university. Most of the students in our country who are waiting to join universities don’t even know what field they are going to choose, but owing to our experience of the market we know and understand that gap. We have contributed to solving this issue by giving trainings to students in Addis Ababa who have taken university entrance exams particularly on soft skills.
In this one week training that we offer, we guide students in choosing the prospect fields, in addition to equipping them with technology, leadership, communication, entrepreneurship, emotional intelligence, graphic design, robotics and programing and other soft kill and hard skill. So far we have done two rounds of trainings.
We engage our trainee students on the fields that they are looking forward to selecting. Following that, we beef them up with the necessary skills such as goal setting to achieve their required skill competency. As a result, students are able to see into their future fields without starting the classes and from our recent trainings we have been able to see more than 70 percent of our trainees being confident in the fields they have chosen, with knowledge of the market expectations required of them.
When we started with the first round of training, we trained about 500 students, while on the second round that figure jumped to well over 1200.
Capital: What are your observations from the trainees? What are the outcomes; acceptance and the gaps?
Desalegn: Many consider attending university as a way to leverage a promising career prospect. The first thing we observed from the trainings is that it gives students’ high confidence to join universities. They can easily choose what they want to learn and have a clear goal. Of course a student with a clear goal has quality to tackle his/ her future.
Students in high school mainly prepare and learn just for exam and to join university. They often don’t know anything about life skills, so they are happy when they get such chances to enhance their capacity. Our education mainly targets cognitive development and upright emotional educations which are important in life and our students are missing this and you can easily observe this from their reaction to the training.
University is full of opportunities, but sometimes it can be hard to know which way to look first – or at least know where you’re headed. Sometimes the best place to start is with the basics. What’s important to you? What motivates you? What do you want to achieve in life? What do you think your purpose is in life? It might feel a bit overwhelming. But this is what one university should want its students to think about
Capital: What is your overall thought on the quality of education in Ethiopia?
Desalegn: The basic problem in the education sector is also related with skills. It doesn’t follow a holistic approach. Our education system should also focus on non-cognitive education. It’s obvious that students in Ethiopia have low skill even after graduating from higher education and the government knows this. Our education system is not creating skill entrepreneurs nor skilled un-employed citizens.
Linkage with the industry is low and doesn’t observe what the employers and industries want. It hinders our education system to be less practical.
Now the new education road map is attempting reform of the education sector in line with the national vision set by the government as education is one of the key determinant features to guarantee development and improvements in human wellbeing. The ministry is working to give skill based trainings on 6 subject matters for grade 11 and 12 students which aim to help them in choosing their field of study in university and have basic skills in life too.
All the wrong deeds we have been seeing in high schools and in universities are because of lack of these skills. Improvement in this area has included reforms in the areas of producing university graduates with a balanced set of cognitive and non-cognitive skills and having higher-order thinking skills such as critical, creative and problem-solving thinking.
Additional reform areas envisage improving the quality of education in primary, secondary and preparatory education, in order to increase the quality of education in higher education, and the need for strengthening quality assurance enhancement programs in universities, in general,
Additionally, in the other world there is something called university and high school linkage which students in both institutions work and support each other; similar to university and industry linkage. In our education system there is a gap on this and that’s what KIBUR College is trying to create. Universities or colleges should come and work with high schools and lower levels which will help students to know about universities and make the relevant prepare thereof.
Capital: What kind of support are you getting from the side of the government?
Desalegn: Different stakeholders have different responsibilities within government and the private sector. Industries have to go out to the public and work on students if they want to get skilled man power. It is difficult to change everything if we work only by ourselves. KIBUR College’s main work is giving regular courses yet we also give youths trainings as part of our main work. We have planned to work with other stakeholders and partners to give this trainings more widely, but more synergetic partnerships are required.
Capital: Do you have plans to expand to other regions?
Desalegn: For the two rounds, we only gave these trainings for student based in Addis Ababa and next year (Ethiopian Calendar) we plan to go to Jimma. Additionally, we are planning to work with universities in different part of the country.
Capital: What do you expect in the near future from different stakeholder especially in strengthening soft skill trainings?
Desalegn: The Ministry of Education should highly work on linking both high schools and universities. One of the university objectives should be supporting high schools. High school and university linkage should be set as a policy. It will help students to know that university is more than just about getting a degree. It is about life purpose, positivity, wellbeing and so on at the epicenter of student education and teaching.