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The Initial Project
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Addis Ababa University (AAU) engaged in a university-to-university partnership which established Ethiopia's first master's degree in social work and a new School of Social Work. The Social Work Education in Ethiopia Partnership (Project SWEEP) utilized extensive two-way faculty exchange to accomplish a needs assessment and planning, and the co-development of a curriculum framework, course outlines, teaching materials, and teaching support. The curriculum is designed to prepare professional social workers to manage community-based services and develop new programs in the areas of health, poverty reduction, child welfare, HIV/AIDS, and community development.

In the U.S., The Council of International Programs USA (CIPUSA) provided logistical and support services for exchange visits of Ethiopian faculty to the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC. In Ethiopia, Christian Relief & Development Association (CRDA), a nonsectarian membership organization of approximately 300 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), provided support for needs assessment, training workshops, and field practicum.

  1. Memorandum of Agreement between UIC and Addis Abba University was negotiated as a result of the work of the Social Work Education in Ethiopia Partnership (Project SWEEP), and the interest of Dean Abye Tasse and President Andreas Eshete who visited UIC two times, under SWEEP sponsorship, to meet with school and college deans, The Office of International Affairs, and the Chancellor.
  2. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between AAU and CRDA to facilitate field placements, training, and other linkages between the School of Social Work at AAU and NGOs in Ethiopia.

Building on this planning work, Addis Ababa University opened a new School of Social Work in 2004, and each year, about 40 students have been admitted into the Master's in Social Work program. In 2006, the first class of 39 Ethiopian students graduated with an MSW degree, followed by 36 MSW students graduated in 2007.

Community Work & Life Center at AAU
UIC is a collaborating organization with six other organizations that designed and developed a Community Work and Life Center whose mission is to develop employment sites and opportunities for Ethiopians. This project was built on relationships developed by Project SWEEP. The Council on International Programs USA (CIPUSA) with the help of Sweep affiliated faculty submitted the grant which was funded by the U. S. State Department. It was one of only two workforce development grants funded in Africa. Training was held on the UIC campus. This grant expanded the partnership to involve Cleveland State University and the Ethiopian Employers Federation (EEF). EEF signed a Memorandum of Agreement with AAU to provide linkages for student internships with the business community.

Ethiopian Entrepreneurship Training Program
Based on the success of the Community Work and Life Center at AAU, a second grant was written by CIPUSA to the U.S. State Department for entrepreneurship training with the Ethiopian Employers Federation. Richard Kordesh, Visiting Planner in Residence at CUPPA, is a trainer for the new project which links back to the Community Work and Life Center and the School of Social Work at AAU. Two interns from the chool of Social Work at AAU worked on the project, and many social work students participated in the week-long training. Two social work students from Ethiopia will receive short-term training in the USA in September 2007 as members of the Train-the-Trainer team from Ethiopia.

Fulbright Research
All of the relationships described above have one primary goal which is to help build the capacity of Ethiopian institutions. Capacity building's objective is to provide the resources and expertise needed by Ethiopian institutions to develop new, increased and most importantly sustainable abilities to address the many social and economic problems that exist in their country. It is expected and planned that when our cooperative agreements end, the Ethiopian institutions will have developed programs that will continue without outside help. It is also anticipated that these Ethiopian institutions would have developed the skills and resources necessary to do substantial capacity building with other institutions in Ethiopia.

Collaboration was obviously subject to availability of resources. UIC's main resource was faculty with the interest and expertise to build the capacity of Ethiopian institutions. It was clear that if capacity building were to occur that funds from outside UIC would have to be sought. So, one of the major foci of the UIC faculty involvement has been the identification of sources of funds that could be used to build the capacity of the Ethiopian institutions.

Since the inception of the Project SWEEP collaboration, institutions in the USA and Ethiopia have worked diligently to secure program development funds for building the capacity of social work education in Ethiopia. The following projects have received funding:

  1. About $99,000.00 from USAID was received by Project SWEEP to engage in partnership to develop the MSW program at Addis Abba University.
  2. About $141,000 was allocated by the World Bank in a Development Innovation Fund (DIF) grant to Addis Abba University School of Social Work to fund the initial two years of a PhD program in social work. The PhD program began in 2006.
  3. $5,000 was donated by a private donor to woman's pottery making cooperative for the purpose of purchasing pottery making machinery that will vastly improve the number and quality of pots they can produce. These funds came directly from the work of an MSW student in field placement working with the Ethiopian Entrepreneurship project noted above.
  4. About $12,000 has been donated to a project, developed by former Peace Corps volunteers, to fund the training of women with no marketable skills to become hair dressers and obtain vocational training in other areas. UIC faculty linked this project with AAU's School of Social Work as a paid field placement site. An MSW graduate has been hired to manage the project.
  5. About 3000 books and several journal sets have been donated to the Addis Abba School of Social Work for a resource library in social work. The value of the books and journals is about $54,000. The first shipment was managed by Ethiopian North American Health Professionals (ENAPHA). The second shipment was managed by Books for Africa/USAID. UIC faculty, volunteers, and students collected the books from individuals, organizations, and publishers, packed them and transported them to Detroit and Minneapolis.
  6. UIC faculty were instrumental in obtaining funds for program development in Tanzania. In the near future, this funding will result in a tri-partnership and training program between UIC, the Institute of Social Work in Tanzania and Addis Abba University School of Social Work that addresses issues related to HIV/AIDS and orphan and vulnerable children.
  7. The Gedam Sefer University-Community Partnership establishes a new university-community partnership between the Gedam Sefer community, Addis Ababa University School of Social Work, the University of Illinois at Chicago - USA, the OAK Foundation and the Love for Children Organization. It builds on action research projects that AAU students and faculty have undertaken in recent years in cooperation with leaders and residents in the Gedam Sefer community. It also grows from innovative efforts already underway in Gedam Sefer that show great potential for strengthening the community. Those projects have begun to document the community's assets, the community's challenges, and promising projects that are already underway. Through a partnership of residents, leaders, graduate students and faculty, this initiative will empower the community to set goals for its improvement and create new projects that improve the lives of children, youth, and families.

In summary, the initial collaboration by UIC and Addis Abba University on Project SWEEP has served as a catalyst for the development of a network of capacity building activities in Ethiopia. A major focus of the collaboration has been to link programs and projects in some way to the new School of Social Work at Addis Ababa University.

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