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Effects of Ethiopia's Luban Workshop extend beyond border

Updated: 2024-03-16 09:43 ( Xinhua )
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Yonas Akele (left) discusses with Jiang Jiang about teaching at the Luban Workshop in Addis Ababa in February. [Photo/Xinhua]

At the Luban Workshop in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, 39-year-old educator Yonas Akele explains the way an assembly line works to students with the help of an automation control platform from China.

Currently a faculty member at the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Technical and Vocational Training Institute, Akele is involved in the Luban Workshop's training program. The initiative integrates theoretical knowledge with practical applications, providing students with a unique opportunity to translate classroom teaching into tangible skills.

The workshop in Ethiopia is a collaborative effort between the FDRE Technical and Vocational Training Institute and the Tianjin University of Technology and Education, and was inaugurated in 2021.

Offering specialized courses in industrial robotics, mechatronics, industrial control, and industrial sensor technology, the workshop's aim is to train the modern industrial technicians much needed by Ethiopia's evolving industrial landscape.

Over the past five years, more than a dozen workshops named after Lu Ban, a deified craftsman from ancient China, have been set up across the African continent. Providing high-level vocational education, these workshops are an integral facet of Sino-African cooperation in talent development.

"Young people in Ethiopia are fortunate to study here, and I anticipate more Luban workshops will be established here in the future," Akele says.

Akele's journey as an advocate for the Luban Workshop began in 2018 as he pursued a master's degree at the Tianjin university. It was there that he encountered the EPIP teaching model developed by the Luban Workshop. EPIP stands for engineering, practice, innovation and projects, and integrates theoretical learning with handson engineering applications.

"The most difficult part of the course was the practical part at the beginning, but with the guidance of my Chinese classmates, I was gradually able to improve after a lot of effort," Akele says.

Upon his return to Ethiopia, Akele volunteered to join the teaching team at the Luban Workshop. Keen to advance its innovative approach, he believes the workshop will significantly enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

"Four teachers are working at the Luban Workshop to guide students through practical training courses. I'm the only Chinese teacher," says Jiang Jiang, head of the workshop, adding that the long-term goal is to train enough technicians to eventually be able to teach other students.

In collaboration with partners like the African Union, the Luban Workshop in Ethiopia is extending its impact beyond the country's borders.

Through the East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project, a joint initiative by the World Bank and African governments to improve the quality of technical and vocational education and training programs, the workshop has organized five training sessions so far, benefiting nearly 200 trainees of the vocational education and training programs from countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

"The workshop is not only dedicated to boosting our strength and industrial capacity but also serves as a center for capacity building for the wider East African region," says Haftom Gebregziabher, deputy director-general of the technical and vocational training institute.

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