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Professionals for the future

Focal area: Education
Project: ATTC
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Ethiopia is changing: new jobs are appearing in the booming industrial sector, national and international companies are looking for well-educated engineers and mechanics. Yet there is a lack of these professionals in the country. At the same time many young Ethiopians are unemployed. To fill this gap, and create prospects for the new generation, we are building technical schools across the whole country, and fitting them out with everything they need. Since 1992 we have also been running our own technical college, the ATTC in Harar. For training which leads to a qualification is the key to a secure future.

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If you ask Suse Obsi Wirtu about her professional model, nobody occurs to her. In automotive engineer­ing, which is her field of study, and in the sector where she would later like to work, there are hardly any women. She has also sensed scepticism among her male fellow students: “They don’t trust that I’m going to stick to the course,” says Suse, whose pink trainers go perfectly with her pullover. She smiles proudly. She’s never let herself be diverted from her course. “I’ve been fascinated by cars since I was a child. I wanted to understand how they work.”

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The 22 year old Suse Obsi Wirtu is preparing for her final exams.

Now the 22-year-old is among the best in her year. She is studying at the Agro Technical and Technology College (ATTC), which Menschen für Menschen has been running in the eastern part of Ethiopia for nearly 30 years.

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With the college the foundation wants to smooth the way for young men and women to a suc­cessful future, provide the growing Ethiopian economy with professionals and so contribute to the development of the whole country.

Alongside automotive engineering the students at ATTC can also graduate in manufacturing technology, electricity and electrical engineering and agro-ecology – independent of their financial means. For the study is free. Machines, tools, work clothes, reading books, food and accommodation for over 700 students is covered by donations. Among others, Bükert Werke from Ingelfingen is involved here. The technology company particularly wants to promote talented women, and besides Suse supports a further eleven female students.

“The foundation has been supporting me my whole life,” says Suse. She was born in Mettu, a small town about 1,000 kilometres south-west of Harar, in a hos­pital which Menschen für Menschen had built. Later she went to primary and secondary schools, both of which had likewise been constructed by the charity. And when graduates from ATTC enthused to her about the college, her interest was awakened, and she booked into the entrance test. “I studied hard.” Suse knew that ATTC is popular, and that each academic year between 1,500 and 2,000 hopefuls apply for about 200 places. “The confirmation came by SMS. I called my father at once. He was even happier than I was.”

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The whole interest of Suse Obsi Wirtu (left) is around machines and motors. Later she wants to advance Ethiopia’s car industry.
The whole interest of Suse Obsi Wirtu (left) is around machines and motors. Later she wants to advance Ethiopia’s car industry.
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In spite of her hunger to learn, she found it hard at first to live so far from home. She got homesick and often phoned her parents. Yet now she has made a lot of friends on the campus. “I find it great that here I am living with people from all over Ethiopia,” she reports, “and that they all bring different cultures and religions with them.” Living independently, de­veloping tolerance, getting used to new things, work­ing in teams, carrying out orders in a responsible fashion – these are all things which students learn at ATTC. “I feel well-prepared for life after college,” says Suse.

She herself wants to use her knowledge to pro­mote the Ethiopian car industry. Ideally with MOENCO, one of the biggest car companies in Ethiopia. “I’ve got a good chance of getting a job. We’ve got a lot more practical experience than graduates of other universities. That’s what firms are looking for,” says Suse, and says goodbye. She has got to go and study in the library.

The Menschen für Menschen Foundation - Karlheinz Böhms Ethiopia Aid is a public foundation under civil law. It is registered with the Munich tax office under the tax number 143/235/72144 and was last exempted from corporation and trade tax by decision of 11th June 2018 for the promotion of tax-privileged purposes and thus recognised as a non-profit organisation.