Scholarships to Advance Inclusive Higher Education for Youth with Disabilities

Americas, January 17 2017

TORONTO:  The University of Gondar and Canada’s Queen’s University announced a 10-year, USD$24.2 million partnership to advance inclusive higher education for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and Africa as part of The MasterCard Foundation’s Scholars Program.

scholarship iconThe partnership will provide 450 next-generation African leaders with a high-quality university education at the University of Gondar, while also providing 60 of the university’s faculty members with the opportunity to study at Queen’s University, where they will enhance their skills in innovative pedagogy and in leading collaborative research between African and North American universities. The University of Gondar and Queen’s University will also collaborate to develop Ethiopia’s first occupational therapy program.

“We are excited to welcome the University of Gondar and Queen’s University to the Scholars Program,” says Peter Materu, Director, Education and Learning and Youth Livelihoods, The MasterCard Foundation. “Through their collaboration, these exceptional institutions will not only forge a new path for inclusive education in Africa, but will also bring much-needed perspectives that will enable us to better understand the needs of young academics living with disabilities.”

As part of the partnership, the University of Gondar will provide 290 undergraduate and 160 master’s level degrees in multidisciplinary fields that will encompass health sciences, law, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences, taking special care to recruit young people with disabilities, as well as young people from conflict-affected countries. The University of Gondar will deliver an annual Summer Leadership Camp for Scholars across the Program, as well as a robust, practicum-based experiential program focused on giving back to community, through service and leadership skill development in the field of community-based rehabilitation. The University of Gondar will also pilot new models of Scholar support services, by integrating accessibility tools such as wheelchairs and learning materials such as braille books and rehabilitation lab access, into each Scholar’s package of wraparound support.

“The University of Gondar embraces this partnership with great enthusiasm, for it comes with an opportunity to boost its vision of becoming a Centre of Excellence in rehabilitation and inclusive education, research and community engagement,” says Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, University of Gondar President. “This partnership will develop the capacity of both universities to plan and effectively undertake large-scale, people-centred interventions with multi-faceted benefits to the institutions and their respective stakeholders.

Queen’s University will provide 44 University of Gondar faculty members with PhD training to develop skills and capabilities needed to supervise Scholars’ research and practicums. Queen’s University will also support the University of Gondar as it develops and implements the first undergraduate occupational therapy curriculum and program in Ethiopia. This work will involve providing master’s level training in occupational therapy to 16 University of Gondar faculty members, who will then work with Queen’s occupational therapy faculty members to develop a curriculum and teach in the first occupational therapy program at the University of Gondar.

“We are delighted to work on this tremendous, multi-faceted project with the University of Gondar and The MasterCard Foundation,” says Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Without a doubt, this collaboration will change lives and create new pathways for education in Africa. It will also provide Queen’s researchers and students new avenues for growth, as they join with University of Gondar faculty members on research projects and support Gondar faculty through training programs and the development of the first undergraduate occupational therapy program in Ethiopia.”

Together, Scholars and faculty members at the University of Gondar and Queen’s University will undertake joint research, paving the way for inclusive education that places the needs of young people with disabilities at the heart of scholarship. They will work together to strengthen the range and type of supports offered to Scholars with disabilities and all students attending the University of Gondar by focusing on accessibility measures that enable student excellence and barrier-free learning.

The University of Gondar and Queen’s University join a global network of 27 Scholars Programs committed to ensuring that all young people, no matter their starting point in life, have an equal chance to obtain a quality education and pursue their aspirations. The Program provides education and leadership development for nearly 35,000 bright, young leaders with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them. These young people will create change that matters within their communities and will usher in a new era of inclusive prosperity in Africa and beyond.

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