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Finland to launch its first bilateral development cooperation programme in Eritrea

The College of Science and Arts in Adi Keih 

New opportunities for young Eritreans through education cooperation programme

By Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Finland is about to launch its first bilateral development cooperation programme in Eritrea. This cooperation programme between Finnish and Eritrean higher education institutions (HEI) seeks to improve teaching, research and teacher training in Eritrea. It is also an example of how the root causes of emigration can be addressed in the country of origin through development cooperation.

Eritrea is burdened by large-scale youth emigration. Young people lacking qualifications and job opportunities are leaving in masses for the neighbouring countries and Europe in search of a better life. Eritreans are, in fact, the second largest group of refugees arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean.

The new programme will offer future prospects to young Eritreans remaining in their country. Its goal is also to provide competent workforce for Eritrea's labour market and support the country's opening up for international cooperation.

Located in the Horn of Africa, Eritrea is a fragile state that counts among the least developed countries of the world. In the past few years, however, the Eritrean government has been slowly opening up for international cooperation and started planning reforms, which will hopefully also address the root causes of emigration.

Major changes have taken place in Eritrean higher education institutions as well. The decentralization of the University of Asmara into seven colleges across the country has resulted in significantly greater numbers of students.

The research programmes, curricula and graduate programmes of these new colleges now require further development. There is a lack of competent teaching staff and teaching materials. The current education cooperation programme seeks to address these needs by strengthening, for example, e-learning, teaching resources and services at these institutions.

Three projects have been selected through an open call. The Finnish participants are the Universities of Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Eastern Finland, and the Aalto University. They all have considerable experience in these types of development cooperation projects. The programme involves four HEIs from Eritrea too, and the projects have a duration of a few years.

In addition to improving the quality and coverage of higher education, the projects are intended to support more generally the further development of Eritrea’s education sector and the efficient use of research-based knowledge.

The selected projects have a total budget of roughly EUR 1.56 million, of which the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs will contribute about EUR 1.17 million.

The participating higher education institutions will be responsible for project implementation, and the programme will be administered by the Finnish Centre for International Mobility (CIMO).

Further information: Matti Karvanen (Mr.), Programme Officer, Unit for Eastern and Western Africa, tel. 0295 351 806
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