On 9 May the project team of the APPEAR project Edu4GEO2 presented their project to an interested audience during the APPEAR in practice_17 event at the OeAD. After an introduction by the representative of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Erwin Künzi, who highlighted the importance of APPEAR for the work of the ADA, and an introduction to APPEAR by programme coordinator Julia Lichtkoppler, project members Sayeh Kassaw Agegnehu and Thomas Bauer presented the long history behind the current project. It all started with a PhD scholarship for Sayeh Kassaw, who graduated from BOKU in 2015, and the first preparatory funding in 2014, which finally led to the academic partnership EduLAnd2 from 2016 to 2020. While the successfully finalized EduLAND2 focused on the implementation of a bachelor programme on “Land Administration and Surveying” at Debre Markos University (DMU) and Bahir Dar University (BDU), the objective of Edu4GEO2, which started in March 2023, is to upgrade the competence of undergraduate students through implementing a master curriculum on “Geomatics” to make students fit for leading positions in the public and private sector of land administration and geodata management, as well as for teaching and research activities at academic institutions. Both study programmes encourage especially female students to enroll.
Sayeh Kassaw Agegnehu and Reinfried Mansberger subsequently reflected on the importance of building an equal partnership, which has been a major driver of their success for the past 10 years. They highlighted mutual respect and friendship as key elements of successful cooperations and put forward that Austrian partners needed to recognize the paradigm shift from knowledge transfer to knowledge exchange. Furthermore, they highlighted the importance of incorporating important stakeholders into the project (e.g., farmers and representatives of civil associations).
After the presentations representatives of the participating universities talked about the impact of APPEAR on their respective institutions. Doris Damyanovic, Vice Rector for Teaching, Continuing Education and Students at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) and herself a team member of the Edu4GEO2 pointed out that BOKU was involved in a significant amount of APPEAR projects and referred to the importance of Africa-UniNet, the Austrian-African Research Network.
To the surprise of all, Tafere Melaku, President of Debre Markos University announced in his speech that the university was going to award its first ever honorary doctorate to Prof. Mansberger for his achievements as a initiator and coordinator of the APPEAR projects, which had led to a long-lasting and close relationship between BOKU and Debre Markos University.
Mulugeta Tenaw Assaye, former Dean of the Institute of Land Administration at Debre Markos University, who is currently undertaking his PhD studies at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna with a scholarship from APPEAR, introduced himself and joined the subsequent panel discussion. In this concluding part of the programme, Gerhard Navratil from Vienna University of Technology and Belachew Yirsaw Alemu from Bahir Dar University, together with the rest of the team, answered questions and engaged in a discussion with the audience. The evening ended with conversations and networking while enjoying Ethiopian food.