Feb 9, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The African country of Eritrea celebrated a major accomplishment last month: 15 Ministry of Health staff members received master’s degrees in the fields of Advanced Practice in Nursing and Global Health and Wellbeing. Here’s a closer look at the boundary-pushing development, along with where it fits into the country’s push to advance human resources infrastructure, as recently reported by Shabait.com.

Cause for Celebration

Held January 17 with a number of senior government officials in attendance, the graduation -- during which graduates received degrees via distance learning opportunities from the University of Dundee -- was a “first” for the country.  

Tweeted Professor Lynn Kilbride, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Science of the University of Dundee, “What a wonderful day we had at the graduation of our first cohort of MSc students in Eritrea.”

The graduates were further commended for their commitment and dedication to serving the public -- a particular accomplishment given the country’s history of conflict, poverty, unemployment and repression.

An Ongoing Effort

According to Kilbride, the recent graduation represents the continuation of 15 years of educational cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the University of Dundee. Since 2003, 156 Ministry of Health staff members received University of Dundee degrees across a diversity of fields -- all aimed at a common goal: building Eritrea’s human resources capacity.

The graduation also speaks to Eritrea’s ongoing efforts to achieve educational excellence.

Professor Tadese Mehari, Chief Executive Director of Eritrea’s Commission of Higher Education, told Shabait.com, “The need for the reinforcement of ties with international institutions of higher education stems from the principle that reputation of any institution of higher education depends on the relationship it has with other counterpart institutions...The relationships we have with universities in abroad has been very instrumental in the exchange of experience.”

Not familiar with Eritrea? You’re not alone. Says BBC.com of this multi-ethnic country with a population of five million, “Bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, [Eritrea] occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa but remains one of the most secretive states in the world….Prolonged periods of conflict and severe drought have adversely affected Eritrea's agriculture-based economy and it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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