16 September 2010

Study Abroad in Ethiopia

By Ashley Owens, Executive Editor

          For 17 years, Tsegaye Beru, the Assistant Director for Public Services at Duquesne Center for Legal Information, has been working on setting up a program in Ethiopia for Duquesne University’s Law School.  If all goes as Beru hopes, this program between Duquesne and the Addis Ababa University School of Law, located in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia and the seat of the African Union, and the Mekelle University Law School in Tigray State will be implemented by 2011.
          Ethiopia is described by Beru as a “democracy in its infancy stage.”  He believes that Duquesne is the perfect university to help Ethiopia grow into a strong democracy.  According to Beru’s plan, Duquesne would assist by sending both faculty and students to Ethiopia.
          The faculty exchange program would be only a one-way exchange at first.  After preparing their teaching plans, Duquesne faculty would go to either the Addis Ababa University School of Law or the Mekelle University Law School and teach.  Eventually, the exchange would become reciprocal and Ethiopian professors could come to Duquesne.
          The summer program for law students is slated to begin in the summer of 2011.  Beru looks forward to adding Ethiopia to the other summer study abroad options.   Beru says Ethiopia is a lot of fun and has many unique, historical places.  Ethiopia also has exciting nightlife and some safari.  Aside from the social aspects, students will be able to experience the development and fostering of a growing democracy first-hand.

          Additionally, Beru plans for Duquesne to become heavily involved in the judicial system in Ethiopia.  Currently, the Ethiopian laws are in English, but the court opinions are in Ethiopia’s native language.   This poses obvious problems.

          Ethiopia also lacks an accessible court reporting system.  Duquesne previously sent Ethiopia around $300,000 worth of legal books, which Beru was happy to see on the shelves during one of his visits to the country.  Beru has also assisted in setting up a two-year HeinOnline subscription for the law schools in Ethiopia.  This subscription has provided the legal students and professionals in Ethiopia with access to legal resources and made researching and writing much less complicated.  Another advantage of the subscription is that the Ethiopian students and professionals are able to see what the rest of the world is publishing.

          The only obstacle left to hurdle is the ability to finance the programs.  Beru is currently awaiting approval on a budget he submitted to Duquesne.   Unfortunately, after 17 years of hard work and patience, Beru is faced with a financial crisis to overcome.  In order to bolster his plan, Beru plans to send letters to other law schools to aid in funding the program.   Alumni are urged to help with the funding if at all possible.

          Beru hopes to obtain funding to visit this summer in order to have Interim Dean Ken Gormley and the deans of the Ethiopian law schools sign a memorandum of understanding.   Beru believes that once this memorandum is signed, both sides will be committed completely and will find a way to make the program work.

          Beru visited Ethiopia in the summer of 2007 on an exploratory mission.  Beru and Professor Kirk W. Junker returned to Ethiopia again in the summer of 2009.  While in Ethiopia, Beru and Junker held talks with the president, deans and law professors at Mekelle Addis Ababa Law Schools.

          If you are interested in contributing financially to Duquesne Law School’s new Ethiopia initiative, please contact Tsegaye Beru at beru@duq.edu or 412-396-4423.