It is a breathtaking experience to see young Ethiopian trainees of marine engineering getting into a queue every single morning of work days to lift that proud flag of our nation so that it could fly higher up in the sky heralding a new horizon Ethiopia is conquering in maritime technology. That marvelous disciplinary demonstrations they carry out seem to metaphorically represent an army of young generation ready to seize a brand new future.
Bahir Dar University Maritime Academy was officially launched on 17 October, 2011 based on a bilateral agreement between Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprises (ESLSE) and the YCF Group, under a close follow-up of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi. The academy was established with a vision of training world-class marine engineers who could serve in the international shipping companies. Beginning with graduating 44 cadets in first and second rounds, the academy has so far graduated more than 550 marine engineers including 41 Electro-technicians.
The academy has an incredible contribution in the ongoing economic development in Ethiopia. One of the most significant areas the academy is making contribution is on foreign currency remittance. The country is acquiring foreign currency through exporting skilled human resource of marine engineers that meet the international standards. The graduates are currently employed in various shipping companies of countries like USA, Germany, Israel, Greek, Djibouti, etc.
The country is also profiting a lot in relation to knowledge and technology transfer through acquiring experiences of other nations that have enormous skills on maritime technology. The experiences young Ethiopian marine engineers who are employed in different international shipping companies are grabbing will also be an incredible asset for the leadership the country will hopefully display in the area of maritime technology.
All cadets who took a test administered by International Maritime Organization (IMO) have successfully passed proving to the rest of the world that Ethiopia indeed has a capacity of training world class maritime engineers who could carry out great responsibilities with an extraordinary courage and discipline. Ethiopia could really handle such a great responsibility of running an institution which is of first in its kind in the history of the nation. The establishment of such an academy is very rare even in Africa, for it is only the second of its kind in the entire history of Africa.
Ethiopia is also lucky enough to pick up great lessons on some good educational practice of the academy. For instance, the astonishing disciplinary practices displayed by both the staff and the students of the academy can be taken as a good experience that could even be applied in different academic units of the university and the nation at large. The strong commitment and endurance the students of the academy demonstrate are so moving that they deserve to be extended to other fields of study within the university.
The founding principle of the academy which is a belief in teamwork with the spirit of learning from one another and cooperating with honest sense of competition has been inspirational, and it deserves to be emulated as a best practice. Rewarding and strengthening good performances and boldly confronting and punishing recklessness is one of the core values of the academy. These good practices are instrumental in transforming other academic units of the university if contextually adapted.
The most remarkable lesson to be drawn from the Academy is its practice of linking universities to industries. It is evident that universities need to be linked to industries in order to play their golden role of transforming a society. The Academy in this respect sets an excellent example. It is true that university-industry link is a matter urgent necessity that universities like ours are struggling to realize. The Academy in this regard has performed an extraordinary job of bridging the gap between the Ethiopian higher education and international maritime companies through practical promotion. And this good lesson can be picked up in order to realize this noble practice in Bahir Dar University and other Ethiopian higher institutions at large.
Currently, the academy is staffed by both expatriates and Ethiopian professionals in addition to other supportive staff. New buildings with high standard have been completed for the academy at the south western shore of Lake Tana, specifically named as Ba’ata whose inauguration is slated to be held on 20 March 2014. Moving the academy to the new facility in Ba’ata, further expansion activities of infrastructure are planned to be undertaken. It has also been planned to upgrade the capacity of the academy to graduating 1000-1500 marine engineers and Electro-technicians annually.