Faculty of Educational and Behavioral Sciences: an icon and cornerstone of BDU
Since its inception in 1966 E.C, the now Faculty of Educational and Behavioral Science and the then academy of Pedagogy played an influential role in the image of the university. Bahir Dar University was resulted from the merger which former Bahir Dar Institute of Technology and the Faculty of Education which gradually evolved from Academy of Pedagogy which latter embraced various departments including education of sciences. Regardless of the expansionary moves undertaken in the main campus to launch various departments pertaining to the college of Business and Economics, the main campus realm is still referred to as “Peda”, a shorthand form of the academy of pedagogy’s old legacy. While the formal reference granted to the head quarter as “main campus” remains, insiders and outsiders invariably refer to it as “peda”.
The BDU May Educational Conference/ Seminar
Celebrating its 30th year of contribution as institution that evenly convened the May Educational Seminar, which turned out into May Educational Conference as of 2002 E.C, Faculty of Educational and Behavioral Sciences proved to be the hallmark and tag of Bahir Dar University. On the occasion of the two days conference which was held on 17-18 of Ginbot 2004, scholars from various local and international universities had presented their scholarly works, received questions as well as responded to the questions and feedbacks. I bet it was a wonderful academic scenario not only for that in education but also for everybody having passion and interest to research and academic rigor.
Among the renowned scholars taking part in the conference were Professor Kazuhiro Yoshida of Hiroshima University- Japan, Professor Fatuma Chege of Kenyatta University- Kenya, Professor Yalew Endaweke of Weldiya University, Dr. Amare Asgedom of Addis Ababa University, Dr. Tesfaye Teshome of HERQA- MOE, Ato Demwoz Admasu of Kotebe College of Teachers' Education and Ato Tamirat W/Gabriel of the Special Needs and Inclusive Education of the MOE. There were also many more individuals who presented papers without their names being in this list.
“Peda” Yielding Fruit
Though the previous vision of Academy of Pedagogy to be centre of excellence in education fails to materialize due to number of reasons, the current Faculty of Educational and Behavioral Sciences seems to yield visible fruit. One of the reasons for logicality of this argument is the establishment of BDU Centre for Pedagogical and Educational Research. Given the high profile veteran researchers and teacher educators home-based in the Faculty, the experience most suffers have had in relation to organizing national conferences and relatively better harmony and mutual respect among the faculty, the Faculty is still hoped to be one of its contemporaries which will perhaps help realizing BDU’s vision to become among the ten premier universities in Africa.
Grey Hairs, Old Faces and Established Academic Trend
For those of us who attended the closing plenary of the 30th May Educational Conference, it was fascinating to see pioneers given due regard and respect by the relatively younger counterparts. This was not only manifested by calling elderly “gashie” but also by practically paying respect to their contributions and by making them to speak of their experiences over the last decades. Accordingly Nigussie Kassahun, the most senior teacher and researcher was called “Gashie Nigussie” by his former students such as Professor Yalew Endaweke, Dr. Dawit Mekonnen and many others. It is easy to guess how structured and family-like their academic rapports could be and how harmonious their relationships. Though Gash Nigussie is raised as example, relatively more stable and long-lived staffers are widely available at the Faculty giving it a charisma of transgenerational work environment.
While it could be naïve to think that old age is always wisdom, it is however equally arrogant and inconsiderate not to count the contribution of seniors for a brighter today and even for a brightest tomorrow. Hence, valuing pioneers and learning from their lived experiences would serve dual purpose of not repeating mistakes committed yesterday and building on good experiences which proved to be fruitful in the past.