Background

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Witnessing the resounding contributions and successes of the Tigrai Development Association (TDA) in promoting the reconstruction and development of Tigrai, three gentle men in the inner-core of TDA, namely Mr Araya Zerihun, Dr Assefa Abraha, and Mr Desta Asgedom, came up with an idea of establishing a model, boarding secondary school for high performing high school entrants. They were driven by two important rationales.

The first was to provide the excellent but poor children, mostly in rural communities, with opportunities to finish high school and make their way to colleges and universities. And, the second one was to encourage children all over the primary schools in Tigrai to excel as they aspire to joining the model high school. Mr Araya and colleagues pursued the project and the founding of Qalamino Special High School was realized in 1997 with the support of the National Regional State of Tigrai. The first rationale had its impact in driving the gentle men into initiating the cause. But, the criterion for admission to the School later became having the best performance.

All of the 51 Qalamino Special High School students of the first batch who sat for the 2001/2 Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examination have passed, 49 of them earned “Excellent” score. The students joined various Ethiopian universities and colleges – of whom majority of them kept excelling but few could not reach the finish line of undergraduate education easily. The scattering of those excellent students in the colleges and universities throughout Ethiopia and the failure of few ones to reach the finish line were not pleasant developments. Moreover, many individuals within the TDA realized early on that Qalamino Special High School would have limited contributions if the talented students of the School are not provided with best tertiary education. Hence, Mr Araya and colleagues came up with the idea of opening a science and technology institute around Mekelle.

As the idea was brought to the stakeholders in the National Regional State of Tigrai (NRS of Tigrai) and the TPLF, the initiators and supporters have to justify the need for establishing a science and technology institute while there are institutions like Mekelle University and Maichew Technical College. The initiators were successful in conveying the rationales for having such kind of institution and obtain the support of almost every stakeholder. Nonetheless, there was another important point conveyed in this process – that such a venture is quite demanding in every aspect: infrastructure, resources, funding, and personnel. Academicians involved in the process would not help but appreciate that the venture is indeed demanding. Aware of the economic constraints of Tigrai in the presence of a multitude of other sectors requiring immediate attention, many of the stakeholders were not sure if the proposal should be pursued further. After several discussions and consultations, the stakeholders were courageous enough to approve this demanding venture.