The South Intensive Programme (SIP) organised by PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Hasselt, Belgium) and Jimma University (Jimma, Ethiopia) fosters cooperation between students and staff of both institutions. The important characteristics are its interdisciplinary and intercultural character and the cooperation with organisations in the local community of Jimma. The ambition is to empower students in finding solutions for 21st century challenges rooted in the local community of Jimma, and this in international and interdisciplinary teams. The methodology embraces the Community Based Education principle of Jimma University.
For two weeks, students from both universities cooperate in international and interdisciplinary teams. They work out tools and formulate solutions for problems that are proposed by local organisations in Jimma. Students in healthcare, social work, education, technology, media, business, law, arts and music work together, their motto being: “how can I use my professional expertise as an added value for the group, in order to generate creative and feasible solutions for the community”. The whole process is coached by an interdisciplinary team of experts from PXL and Jimma University.
The programme includes a variety of activities: lectures, workshops, field visits (in the community), group work, writing a paper, presentations etc. Lectures and workshops on data collection and analysis, interview techniques, how to visualise results etc. support the teams during the development of their project. A lot of attention is given to intercultural communication and cooperation and on group dynamics.
The best results are implemented in the Community Based Education projects of Jimma University, in this way leading to sustainable solutions and future cooperation and research projects. Some examples of the community based challenges are: solid waste management in Jimma city, improving the work environment for shoe shiners near Jimma University, Enhancing inclusive education for students with disabilities at Jimma University, Improving the physical school environment at Mandara and Seto primary school.
The different activities of this South Intensive Programme, the topics that are tackled, the close cooperation of students, staff and organisations in Jimma increase the knowledge base and innovation skills of all students and staff in North and South, they encourage intercultural cooperation, sensitise the Belgian students for various aspects of development cooperation and strengthen the cooperation between PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Jimma University and the local community of Jimma.