Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS), that is expected to play a big role in raising awareness and appreciation for the role of science, has just been launched in Addis Ababa. Establishing a science academy in Ethiopia has been a long and challenging process spanning the past 40 years. The launch celebration took place on April 10, 2010 at Addis Ababa University.
“EAS will foster scientific culture and innovation, and advance the knowledge of natural and social sciences, engineering, medicine, history, literature, languages, and traditional cultures of Ethiopia for the benefit of the Ethiopian society,” Roman Tewolde, coordinator of the EAS launching board, says.
The original idea to establish an Ethiopian Academy of Sciences occurred during the 1970s under Emperor Haile Selassie’s rule but it was derailed by political instability. However, as Ethiopians excelled in a myriad professional disciplines–humanities, engineering, sciences, medicine, and agriculture–over subsequent decades, the need for an organisation to represent them continually grew.
Ethiopians may have made significant contributions to scientific research, but they lacked a cohesive body in their own nation and had to join as members to science academies of other countries. The knowledge of Ethiopian scientists now can benefit Ethiopian society with the objective of fostering scientific culture and innovation. A group of these Ethiopian academics and professionals have been actively engaging in establishing the EAS.
The United Kingdom’s own science academy, the Royal Society, was a key partner in developing the long-awaited EAS. The Royal Society provided financial support towards the initial national conference on the establishment of EAS. In addition, the Royal Society also provided a link to other European academies to help EAS prepare for its launch.
To mark the launch of EAS the Royal Society and the Network of African Science Academies jointly sponsored a workshop to engage young Ethiopian scientists.
Raising awareness and appreciation for the role science plays in human progress is an important focus of the academy that hopes to promote excellence by conferring awards that will spark enthusiasm for greater involvement in scientific research among Ethiopians. EAS allows Ethiopians to showcase their scientific strengths and enable them to address critical economic, environmental, and social issues.
“EAS will contribute immensely as an active promoter and participant in the national development process,” says Tewolde. The science academy plans to offer advice to the government on the quality of science education and be a resource for information on social and economic issues for which science or technology is a concern.
Although EAS will assist the government, EAS will remain an independent, autonomous, and merit-based institution. The academy will only interact with specific government institutions such as the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Education.
The academy can make a pivotal contribution to improving the social and economic situations of the nation. EAS believes science, technology, research, and innovation will enhance the quality of the nation’s decision-making process. The government recognizes the vital role that science can have towards poverty alleviation and a better quality of life and created the ministry for science and technology.
Many developing countries have recently established academies of sciences because of the benefits they can have on society, according to the EAS. More focus on science education can enhance the livelihoods of an entire nation. In Ethiopia, where 85 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, the government is anticipating that EAS will make innovations in agricultural development.
“Challenges remain ahead of realising the objectives,” said Tewolde regarding what EAS wishes to accomplish.
A MediaGlobal Article