The First Ever Data Carpentry in Ethiopia

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

The Ethiopian Education and Research Network (EthERNet) from the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the German International Cooperation (GIZ) Sustainable Training and Education Programme (STEP), the Education Strategy Center (ESC) and Talarify organised its first ever Data Carpentry workshop for young academics and researchers in Ethiopia. The workshop was conducted over two and a half days from 14-16 August 2017 at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT). The main aim was to increase data literacy for researchers and establish a community of good research data practice in Ethiopia in order to increase the presence of Ethiopian researchers in the global research community. Note: UNESCO Statistics Institute reveals that in 2016 1.1% of the global research community are researchers coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. On average 30.4% from all Sub-Saharan researchers are females, whereas Ethiopia counts 13.3 % female researchers out of all Ethiopian researchers.

Ethiopian workshop

Over 25 participants from all over Ethiopia joined the workshop. 98% of participants were women representing different research disciplines including animal nutrition, soil sciences, economics, sport sciences and information technology to name a few. The event was lead by Data Carpentry instructors from South Africa with helpers from Ethiopia and mainly covered lessons included in the Data Carpentry Ecology workshop - better use of Spreadsheets, data cleaning in OpenRefine, and data analysis and visualisation in R. Lactatia Motsuku from the South African National Cancer Registry and Glenn Moncrieff from Ixio Analytics recently trained as instructors and this was their first opportunity to teach as part of the Data Carpentry team.

The Ethiopian cuisine and coffee was an absolute highlight

Our instructors’ experience:

  • Lactatia: “As much as this was the first data carpentry for Ethiopia, this was the first instructor training for me. Before I joined Data Carpentry network, I had no idea what I can do to make changes in other people’s lives. It made me happy to see the transition in only three days i.e. From participants having no idea where to start with data analysis to facial expressions as they sigh “Oooh, okkayyy” and the nodding as they realise that there are beautiful, efficient and very effective tools to work with data. Ethiopia is a very nice place, very religious and full of kind people. I really enjoyed the food. It was organic, healthy and delicious. I bow down to the coffee ceremony and Margareth was a beautiful host, she managed to organise us dinner at 2000 Habesha which is a traditional restaurant with touch of Ethiopian music. It was great to see my colleagues doing The Shoulder dance.”
  • Anelda: “Ethiopia was such a wonderful surprise to me. There are some very ancient traditions and experiences. For example, they have a different calendar that derives from the Egyptian calendar and has a 7-8 year difference from our own calendar. They also regard the day to start at sunrise which means 6 am is regarded as 12 o’clock in Ethiopian time. A meeting scheduled for 2 pm might be misunderstood to start at 8 o’clock due to the 6 hour difference between the Western clock and the Ethiopian time. When I realised the impact that both the time difference and calendar difference may have on research and reported data, it was an eye-opener. Meta data in this instance will be critically important so that collaborators and future users of the research data generated in Ethiopia, can understand exactly which calendar and what time system was used. I hope it will be possible for me to return to Ethiopia to learn more about this beautiful country and its people.”
  • Glenn: “This was also my first workshop as a Data Carpentry instructor. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the students and their ability to absorb the vast amount of information we shared with them. When their faces begun to light up at the realization of the capabilities they were acquiring through the software we were teaching, I realized why Data Carpentry is so important. The kindness of the Ethiopian people, the richness of the culture, and the delicious food were all amazing added extras. Seeing the potential impact of Data Carpentry in Ethiopia inspires me to come back again soon and help to grow the seed that has been planted.”

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