The bilateral development programme between Finland and Eritrea was launched in the beginning of November. The aim of the project is to improve university education, scientific research and teacher education in Eritrea. This can increase the number of educated workforce in the labour market.
Finland's cooperation with Eritrea has attracted wide international interest. The cooperation is meant to support the country's development and to decrease the difficult issue of youth migration, which is detrimental to Eritrea's economy. Eritreans form the second biggest group of refugees who flee to Europe crossing the Mediterranean, in lack of work opportunities and education.
The project was launched at its presentation event organized by the Eritrean teaching commission. High-level guests from Eritrean government were present, including President's Advisor Mr Yemane Ghebreab, Minister of Education Mr Semere Russom and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Osman Saleh. From Finland the event was attended by the Special Representative for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Pekka Haavisto, and representatives from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Finland in Nairobi, and Finnish universities. During his visit Mr Haavisto met several representatives from Eritrea's political and diplomatic court.
Four Finnish and four Eritrean universities participate in the project, namely the University of Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Eastern Finland and Aalto University. They have experience in working with similar projects in different countries.
The five projects chosen to the programme focus on teacher education, information technology, geoinformatics teaching, food security and sustainable development, and digital library services.
The overall budget of the programme is approximately 2.4 million euros, of which the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) funds approximately 2 million euros. The participating universities are in charge of the implementation, and the project is coordinated by the Center for International Mobility (CIMO).
The Finnish NGO Finn Church Aid was also present at the event introducing its own work in Eritrea. Their project aims at developing Eritrea's university education, and they cooperate closely with the MFA and Finnish universities.