Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Gondar organized a half-day research dissemination and sensitization workshop on assistive technology on May 29, 2023. The workshop brought together top management of the University of Gondar and Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, multidisciplinary team of researchers and concerned heads of departments.
In his welcome speech, Dr. Binyam Chakilu, Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer at the University of Gondar, expressed that the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at University of Gondar has granted scholarships for 450 students with disabilities to pursue their studies in different fields of study. He also assured participants that the University will support such efforts with its staff expertise and resource. Dr. Molalign Belay, Director of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Gondar, on his part, emphasized the importance of introducing locally friendly assistive technology and shared his expectation that the eight collaborative projects carried out under his office would be vital in terms of informing policies. He also added that it is of paramount importance to institutionalize such projects for the benefit of persons with disabilities.
Afterwards, Dr. Tesfahun Melese presented the findings of one of the eight research projects entitled “Design, Development and Use of Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities through Educational Platform: A Collaborative Research Project between Queen’s University and the University of Gondar”. The research was aimed at examining the use of assistive technology among students with disabilities enrolled in three universities in Ethiopia and the associated factors. Besides, he shared his research team’s endeavor in adopting Queen’s University’s experience regarding assistive technology design and development.
His presentation was followed by a sensitization session dedicated to the establishment of an Assistive Technology Research and Development Center at the University of Gondar. With a vision of becoming the leading Assistive Technology Center in Ethiopia by 2030, the center will engage in, among others, creating a research platform for staff and students at University of Gondar and beyond to engage in assistive technology-related research, promoting innovation in assistive technology, supporting the teaching-learning process through collaborative and multidisciplinary teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate programs and designing and developing assistive technology to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.