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For sustainable global development: Students and Alumni of the DAAD’s Development-Related Postgraduate Courses

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Introduction

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In the DAAD-funded Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS), young professionals from all over the world study at over 30 German institutes of higher education – as highly skilled experts they then want to shape change in their home countries.

DAAD scholarship holders contribute toward achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals were adopted as successor to the Millennium Development Goals in September 2015.

In the multimedia report, you’ll meet EPOS students and alumni. They talk about their hopes for their home countries and report on their work or explain how the academic training in Germany will help them to meet their goals.

The following themes are highlighted: quality of life, equality and empowerment, climate and the environment, government and economy, global partnership.

We will release chapters of the report at regular intervals.

Chapters



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Quality of Life

No poverty, no hunger, good healthcare, clean water and sanitation as well as quality education – reaching these five Sustainable Development Goals shall enable all people to live in dignity.

(Please scroll down to view the whole chapter or choose one of the topics below)
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The Vietnamese labour market lacks skilled professionals – Ngo Thi Toan wants to improve career opportunities for school graduates in her home country. That is why she has been studying Vocational Education and Personnel Capacity Building since Winter Semester 2015 at TU Dresden.

What is the current status of vocational training in Vietnam?
Although vocational training has been a major topic in Vietnam for over 10 years now, there are problems. Vocational schools are located in the cities and are hard for the poor population in the countryside to reach. Another issue is that vocational schools seldom cooperate with businesses and the training does not focus on practical experience – this means that graduates are not able to fulfil the companies’ demands.

How can these problems be solved?
Vocational training should be coordinated at the national level so that everyone has a vocational school in his/her vicinity, and these institutions should follow the same standards. To ensure that more pupils attend vocational schools, cooperation with the local schools and colleges should be strengthened. This will enable vocational schools to reach more people and make them aware of what they have to offer as well as help pupils make informed decisions about their professional futures.

In which job could you implement these ideas?
I would work at the National Institute for Vocational Training or at a vocational school – the Professional Education Department at the Ministry of Education and Training in my country is a good contact for getting started. I can also imagine setting up a non-profit information and counselling centre – in my home district. I would build contacts with local and regional businesses and inform pupils of suitable internship positions and jobs.





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Carlos Alberto Montenegro Quiñonez is an alumnus of the Development-Related Postgraduate Courses of the DAAD. During his Bachelor in biology at San Carlos University in Guatemala, he realized how closely his studies in entomology were related to diseases and health. Especially in a tropical country like Guatemala which is faced with epidemics like malaria and dengue. To deepen his knowledge in human health, he came to Germany to do a Masters in International Health at Heidelberg University .
Continuing his studies on diseases that are transferred via insects like the mosquito Aedes aegypti, he is currently doing his PhD at the University of Heidelberg. To gather the needed data, he is collaborating with the government of Guatemala. He also participates in an international project that aims to develop a monitoring app for mosquitos. We called him in Guatemala, to have a chat about disease prevention and modern technology.
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Interview with International Health expert Carlos Montenegro Quiñonez

Carlos Montenegro Quiñonez talks about disease prevention and modern technology

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How can plants grow resistant against pests just with the right amount of water and fertilizer? As a contribution to finding simple and affordable methods ensuring food security in her home region, Jackline Kendi Mworia went out to the field, the greenhouse and the laboratory. She is a Kenyan expert for horticulture who studied International Horticulture at the Leibniz Universität Hannover. With her PhD topic she joined HORTINLEA – an interdisciplinary project between East African and German universities.
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DAAD Alumna Jackline Kendi Mworia gives insights into her PhD project

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Not everywhere in the world do people have access to clean water. To change this, the United Nations has taken up the Sustainable Development Goal “Clean Water and Sanitation”. The professionals needed to achieve this goal gain their know-how in the Masters course “Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering“ (TropHEE) at the TU Darmstadt.

Read more on the website of the Millennium Express!
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Equality and Empowerment

Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 10 address equality and empowerment. In order to achieve these goals, EPOS students and alumni make a wide range of contributions: whether in agriculture, through the media or by promoting women in academics.

(Please scroll down to view the whole chapter or choose one of the topics below)

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Climate change has an impact on the world and the people who live in it – this much is clear. But the fact that the genders are differently affected is less well-known. Catherine Njeri from Kenya, however, is an expert on the interdependence: She holds a Masters in Environmental Governance from Freiburg University and currently works for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research programme at CGIAR, a global research partnership dedicated to a food-secure future. Hear her talk about gender, agriculture and climate change in the interview.
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Audio Slideshow Catherine Njeri

The DAAD Alumna talks about in which way genders are differently affected by climate change

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Adriana Gonzáles studies Renewable Energies (PPRE) at the University of Oldenburg (Postgraduate Program Renewable Energy). As a female engineer, the Costa Rican is engaged in bringing more women into the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). To empower female scientists in renewable energies, she is also working on establishing a PPRE women network. In the interview, she speaks about her motivation and the aims of the new network.
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Interview with PPRE student Adriana Gonzáles

Adriana Gonzáles talks about her motivation to empower female scientists and the aims of the new PPRE women network

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Alexys Saravia

The Bolivian talks about her professional intentions

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Studying in Germany – what’s in it for you? Alexys Saravia from Bolivia talks about why she came to Germany for her Master’s in International Media Studies at DW Akademie and what she wants to achieve.

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Three questions for … Tyseer Omer

Tyseer Omer © privat
Tyseer Omer © privat
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In many African countries, land ownership and agriculture are still male-dominated. Tyseer Omer from Sudan has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Justus Liebig University Gießen. Now part of the academic staff at Khartoum University, she looks at the roles the different genders play when talking about food insecurity or climate change.
 

What got you interested in gender issues?
Since my graduate studies at the Department of Agriculture, University of Khartoum, I have been fascinated with gender courses. I have a passion for gender studies just like listening to your favourite music – when it stops, you find yourself recalling it! I believe gender studies is not a discipline you study, but rather a way of thinking that affects your approach to life. Equality and justice in the world cannot be achieved unless the inclusion of gender equality in development projects is well fulfilled and operationalized.

You introduced seminars and lectures on gender issues to your university. What do they focus on?
I teach a seminar course called “Contemporary Development Issues” for final year students in the Department of Agriculture at the University of Khartoum. I use gender concepts as a centre argument to discuss poverty, food insecurity, and climate change. My students and I try to reflect on how each gender is differently affected by these problems in the Sudan and how the inclusion of both genders in institutional planning and project implementation can help to better approach these issues.

You are currently working on a paper on “Women engagement on policies of climate change in Sudan” at Brown University. What is it about?
At the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES), I started networking with researchers interested in international policies on climate change, especially United Nations treaties. Together with them, I developed a research paper on the engagement of Sudanese women in climate change negotiations. This paper is now being extended into a post-doctoral project titled as Changing Climate, Gender and Policy: the feminism of subsistence farming in the Sudan. I hope, this project will help develop networks of researchers and practitioners on the south to produce sound development policies that would achieve gender equity within farming communities under changing climate.




Tyseer Omer © privat
Tyseer Omer © privat
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Reem Tarayra

The scholarship holder speaks about the need to empower women

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For several years, Reem Tarayra from the Palestinian Territories worked for the organisation Seeking Common Ground back in her home country. Their aim: Empowering women who suffer from oppression and a lack of education by mobilizing their talents and resources.

The DAAD scholarship holder is currently studying Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering at TU Darmstadt.

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Land is one of Africa's most important resources – Ronald Kaweesi wants to help vulnerable groups gain access and make productive use of their land. He studies in the master's programme Land Management and Land Tenure at TU Munich.

Why did you become an advocate for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups?
As a champion and an advocate for global agendas like the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, I believe equality and empowerment play an important role towards attaining these agendas. It is against this background that I plan to advocate land rights for vulnerable groups, including but not limited to women, youths and people with disabilities.

Why are land rights so relevant?
Uganda is a majorly agricultural economy, meaning the majority of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. In order to empower them, they need to have secure land rights in all dimensions, in particular women who are the major participants in agriculture and contribute a lot to food security. Therefore their rights to land are very crucial for going forward. The problem: women cultivate on land they don’t own and are highly vulnerable to eviction in case of death of a husband or in case of a polygamous marriage. Still, the majority only gain access to land from their husbands and/or through their children since most hereditary customs are patriarchal.

How can you improve this situation?
First of all, I'd like to continue working with all stakeholders in the lands sector. That includes lawyers, civil society organizations like the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the private sector, such as land economists. We need to leverage knowledge and work towards the implementation of good practices like the Voluntary Guidelines for Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries, and advocate for Fit-For-Purpose land administration among others. Another decisive point is not only making land accessible to vulnerable groups, but also making sure that the resources needed to make land productive should be available through agricultural banks.



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Global Partnership

The 17th Sustainable Development Goal addresses global partnership. EPOS scholarship holders are current and future partners because further development in the sense of a sustainable future is only possible together. In order to achieve this goal, new knowledge must be generated – based on international partnerships. The universities and their partners participating in the DAAD scholarship programme are an essential component for success. They provide new impetus and initiate change. Dialogue and exchange amongst equal as well as trust are the cornerstones of global partnership.
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Where does your affinity for the Arab culture come from?
Before joining the DAAD, I was responsible for setting up a German-Arab Master's programme in the field of integrated water resource management at a German university. As a result, I travelled a lot in the Arab region and had the opportunity to get to know the culture and people.

What does your typical working day involve?
 A lot of discussions and consultations about the eight funding programmes that my section is responsible for, as well as chairing selection committee meetings. Many decisions have to be made as a team on a case-by-case basis. The special circumstances of our scholarship holders have to be considered carefully. From October to February, trips are scheduled to partner universities throughout Germany for selection meetings.

What does the term “Global Partnership” mean to you in your daily work?
We see our scholarship holders as current and future partners. We're convinced that further development in the spirit of a sustainable future is only possible by working together. According to the motto of an African proverb:
“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together.”

What opportunities and challenges do your scholarship holders face?
The challenge is clearly to cope in a different cultural environment. This also and especially means the different systems of teaching and learning. Due to the relatively short time they spend in Germany, scholarship holders have to adapt very quickly. But this is also associated with opportunities. Quite often we observe a positive personality development, a personal growth to rise to the challenges. If we – and here I especially mean the participating universities, programme managers and supervisors – can contribute to this process in particular, on top of further professional qualifications, then a great deal has been achieved.

How do you like the following statement? “A sustainable future can only be achieved through knowledge transfer at the international level with the help of Global partnerships”.
I'd take it one step further. In my opinion, the mere transfer or exchange of knowledge is not enough. Sustainable development also requires the knowledge creation that arises out of international partnerships.

If you were asked to describe the initiative Millennium Express to me in three words, what would they be?
Interdisciplinarity, networking, commitment
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In summer 2018, scholarship holders came to Germany to participate in our cooperational Master’s courses. Through the EPOS programme, students can apply for their favourite degree programme from among 40 courses of study established with top German universities and research institutes. In 2018 Students and researchers from 63 countries worldwide are given the opportunity to spend a year or even more in Germany, gain new experiences and skills, and became part of the big global EPOS network. The 267 scholarship holders, 150 women and 117 men, are spread over 24 cities. Most students come from countries such as Egypt, Colombia, Nigeria and Ghana. Not always, but certainly in 2018 , we also have scholarship holders from smaller countries like Bhutan, Panama and Belize.

In the spirit of global partnership, the EPOS programme has been enabling students to take part in worldwide academic cooperation and benefit from the partnership since 1987. The interests and academic choices of the scholarship holders vary widely.

All students are promising young professionals who have the opportunity to develop their personal and professional competencies further to take on social responsibility later in their careers and to shape change in their home countries. New gained knowledge and a wide range of practical experiences will help the students contributing to their home countries’ sustainable development.














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How did the cooperation between the University of Talca and the University of Göttingen come about?
The cooperation began 18 years ago. Through the initiative of the two universities and the DAAD, a Master's programme was planned to cover the high demand for experts in the agricultural industry and agricultural exports in Latin America. The programme was launched in 2002. Since then, doctoral students from the University of Talca also conduct research at the University of Göttingen. This intensified scientific exchange and our cooperation became closer and closer.

 What challenges and opportunities have resulted from the cooperation?

The most important factor was ensuring the quality of our joint academic programme. The constant accreditation processes served this purpose. In the meantime, Latin American and German colleagues both appreciate the high standard of our Master's programme. The cooperation of the two partner universities is seen as an important basis and opportunity for the education of young professionals.

How has the cooperation developed over the past years?

We have established thematic alumni networks and promoted exchange amongst experts. In addition, our alumni have been successful in filling positions in government agencies, non-governmental organisations and international organisations. We have also expanded our academic cooperation. This has resulted in the establishment of a joint PhD programme in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics.

Which institutions have supported your work?

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has provided a significant amount of support for our cooperation in the scope of its programme “Development-Related Postgraduate Courses” (EPOS). By assuming the operational and administrative expenses, the universities have also made a major contribution to ensuring that this partnership will continue long-term.

What was the greatest success to you personally?

I see many successes: the recognition of our cooperation at the international level, the number of trained and highly qualified professionals, the establishment of networks and much more. Additional milestones are the demand amongst German students for our joint PhD programme and the interest of some of our graduates in a doctorate in order to work effectively at universities in their countries.

How would you define the term “Global Partnership”?

In my opinion, the term "Global Partnership" is better expressed with the term "Global Partnership Balance". This implies an equal, non-paternalistic relationship between the partners. The ideal relationship is one of multilateral cooperation, where mutual trust is formed and the capacities of both parties for guiding development, success and goals are recognised. Under these conditions, a partnership develops that is equally carried by both parties, and this results in outstanding opportunities for the training of German and Latin American experts.
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Venturing into another country to study can be a great challenge, but an even greater opportunity. It opens up new perspectives on oneself and the world. In the podcast, three Master's students report on how they experience studying and everyday life at German universities – and where the differences to the universities in their home countries lie:

Farhan Ahmad from Pakistan:
Master’s student in Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg

Diana Maarouf from Lebanon:
Master’s student in civil engineering and infrastructure at the University of Stuttgart

Paa Kwesi Wolseley Prah from Ghana:
Master’s student in Democratic Governance and Political Science at Osnabrück University
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Chapter 1 Introduction

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