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The Mastercard Foundation and Arizona State University (ASU) are collaborating with the Ministry of Education to help the country build its technology to create an online higher education initiative.

The partnership, powered by a $16.8 million grant from the Mastercard Foundation, will enable 50 Ethiopian higher learning institutions to expand online learning delivery and potentially reach 800,000 young people across the country.

The initiative that was announced last week will build on the expertise of Arizona State University in digital learning.

A team from EdPlus, the unit that houses ASU’s online education,  is already working alongside the Ministry of Education to help Ethiopian universities create learning management and student information systems, as well as train faculty, staff, and students. EdPlus is the unit that houses ASU Online.

According to Arizona State University, while there will be a uniform core technology infrastructure, each of the universities will be able to customize its platform by choosing different functions.

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Speaking to ASU News Amanda Gulley, chief of user experience design for EdPlus, said “The potential direct impact is 800,000 students and 35,000 faculty and instructors. Long term, it will impact future generations of these students, which could be millions of Ethiopians.”

In addition to meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Education, the team also met with technology experts, registrars, faculty, students, and a university president.

Fast-tracked by the COVID pandemic, Ethiopia only recently passed a bill that enabled higher education institutions to teach undergraduate and postgraduate students online.

Following the first-ever online learning directive, currently few private and public higher education institutions provide online education after getting accredited by the Higher Education Relevance & Quality Agency (HERQ).

Around 160,000 students entered Ethiopia’s public universities last year.

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