Oct 3 , 2020

As of this year, the first talent academy of the country will enroll young, tech-savvy math and science enthusiasts among students that are out of the school, according to a draft curriculum.

The 74-page curriculum was developed by a team of six experts from Addis Abeba, Kotebe Metropolitan and Arsi universities, the Ministry and the city's education bureau. In the drafting process, the team took into account the experiences of South Korea, the United States and Israel.

Philosophy of Science & Technology; STEAM projects; Robotics, Mechanics, Electronics, Optics, Artificial Intelligence; Entrepreneurship & Business: and Technical & Vocational Education & Training, including automotive, carpentry and metalwork, are among the courses that will be given by the Ethiopian Innovation & Technology Talent Development Institute.

The curriculum has two tracks - formal and non-formal. The former is designed for students who have completed eighth grade and is comprised of the national secondary school curriculum and complementary educational programmes. The non-formal track is designed for gifted and talented individuals outside the formal school system who can come up with special and innovative projects.

Both the formal and non-formal track can use the available advanced laboratories and other resources of the Institute to realise their inherent potential to the fullest, according to the draft curriculum.

Five percent to 10pc of the intake capacity of the Institute will be dedicated to students that are outside of the formal education system. The curriculum for the non-formal track consists of basic arithmetic, electricity and mechanics, business English, entrepreneurship and ethics, and leadership skills.

Gifted and talented individuals are expected to come up with their feasible and convincing projects, produce certain marketable products as the result of their invention, and spend 75pc of their time on practical learning, according to the curriculum.

The curriculum, which is still in the drafting process, was availed for public discussion last week, according to Hirpasa Chala (PhD) coordinator at the Ministry of Innovation & Technology.

"It will then be tabled to the parliament for approval," said Hirpasa.

The Ministry is establishing the Institute at its premises in Burayu, Oromia Regional State. The 1.1-billion-Br youth academy rests on 7.2ha of land and will be built in two phases. Upon completion, it is expected to enroll 1,000 sophomore students. The academy will host 31 classrooms, two lecture halls, laboratories, 128 dormitory rooms, libraries and 39 apartments for the staff.

The first phase is under construction by Teklebrehan Ambaye Construction on a 4.1ha plot for an estimated 708 million Br and has reached 70pc completion. Lewi Berhan Architects & Engineers has been contracted to supervise the construction for a fee of 143,763 Br a month. The second phase of the project is estimated to cost 400 million Br.

Lectures will be given in the English language, and the Institute will choose which working languages to use depending on the location of the Institute, according to the curriculum.

Since applied mathematics is a foundation for innovation and technology, it will get special attention, according to Hirpasa.

Searching for gifted kids is not an easy job, according to Hirpassa.

"We're planning to use the 'search and hunt' method in the future," he said. "But for now we're planning to select the students based on their previous grades and their inclination toward science subjects."

Tirusew Teferra (PhD), project leader at the Ethiopian Education & Training Roadmap and an educational expert, suggests that the talented kids be recruited while they are still young.

"To pick students with special talents from their usual social environment doesn't hit the targeted goal," he said. "It isn't just education they get from their peers but also social interactions.

Thus, the curriculum should focus more on enriching students' ability since talents are different for different students, according to Tirusew.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 03,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1066]

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