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Talented Youths’ input in Eritrea’s Way Forward (Part I)

President Isaias Afwerki with designers of Shida Museum
The journey to reach a certain destination of success begins much earlier when Eritrean talented youths decide to see what they could do with the materials at their disposal and with their innate talents and more importantly with a can-do spirit which always accelerated their paces towards the envisaged goal.  The hidden talents of Eritrean youths just need a simple platform where they could showcase what they have achieved in different disciplines. Thus, the time for displaying the unnoticed talents has arrived and youths came up with their work accomplishments in the 5th Eri-Youth Festival in Sawa. A number of talented youths who have been working individually at their respective regions used the festival as a platform where they could familiarize their works to thousands of pilgrimages. As their achievements are very detailed, let’s have a glimpse at some of the achievements.

Abrhe Yemane, from Eritrea Institute of Technology who is doing his master’s degree in Mathematics has early developed an English-Tigrigna translating dictionary known as Eri-Dic. He has also been putting some effort to make it multi-lingual there by to make it inclusive of Eritrea’s nine languages in one simple package.

But, what prompts him to make some changes?  Mr. Abrhe said “This is a continuation of what has been started earlier and we have been discussing on various occasions to include the other Eritrean languages within the already made package. For the time being, we have started with Tigre and Arabic for we have a readymade translated data on these languages but the other languages need huge translation works.”

Working on dictionaries is in fact a very demanding task. It seeks cooperation of technical experts and linguists who have good knowledge of the relation between the local languages and English. Mr. Abrhe is of course not a language expert and thus to make it a standardized version of translation he has to consult experts on respective languages. While working on the English-Tigre version of the dictionary, he said: “We made it edited by journalists from the Ministry of Information and later reviewed by linguists from the Ministry of Education.

The main objective of this project is to equally give all Eritrean students from the nine ethnic groups an easy access to electronic dictionary. Mohammed Saied from the Tigre panel of the Ministry of Education has translated the Tigrigna version of the dictionary into Tigre.

So far three national languages have been included in the package. In the later development of the software, Abrhe has made some changes so as to include some additional accesses. Hence, there are four buttons (English-Tigrigna, English-Arabic and English-Tigre, and the altogether button) that enable any user to make comparisons among the languages already included in the package.  Besides enabling any user who has a good knowledge of the three languages to make comparisons, the ‘altogether button’ gives a chance to three individual speakers of the languages to simultaneously make use of it all at once.

The multi-lingual dictionary is now made available for public service.   According to Mr. Abrhe, this has been realized with the collaboration of Hidri Publishers and Ministry Education’s Curriculum Department and through consulting journalists from the Ministry of Information in the editing aspect of it as well as through the assistance of other individuals.

As regards what could be expected in the future, Mr. Abrhe said that besides including the remaining six languages into the package, there is a plan to add sound trucks and a section for sign language thereby to make it an easy tool where everybody shares it equally. The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare has shown an interest to collaborate in upgrading the dictionary so as to give an easy access to   individuals with disabilities. To develop a more advanced electronic dictionary with the collaboration of Hidri Publishers and others is also part of the plan.

This digital dictionary has only been compatible with windows operating system; Abrhe’s plan is to make it a platform independent software and he is looking ahead to far develop it using java application. He is now constantly engaged to improve the dictionary as much as he could. “I have a plan to develop fonts of my own.  This new fonts would be compatible with the programs I am about to develop.” Mr. Abrhe said.

On a different field of study, Civil Engineering graduates of 2012 from Eritrea Institute of Technology exerted efforts on designing a first of its kind project. This 11 membered group of students from the department of Engineering has made discussions on what area they should focus in working their senior project. In the course making some researches, they said “One among us came with the idea of making a plan for a museum in the shape of Shida. We tried our best to make its exterior view the same as the real Shida as much as possible.”

The initiative they took in drafting a plan is really to be admired. They just wanted not to make a simple design for the sake of making designs or drawing plans.  They just set out to make a project of profound meaning.  Instead of constructing an ordinary building, we said “Why not construct a unique building in harmony with our history and identity?” is what they said to any observer who poses a question as regards the motive behind working on such a project. Constructing a museum in the shape of Shida is indeed a very brilliant idea. This is in fact constructing an abstract building without disturbing the internal and external shape of Shida (a plastic sandal).

They have already came up with the idea of constructing a museum in the shape of a plastic sandal, but what are the sections to be included within the museum makes one more curious.  The students planned the project to hold three sections. The front part of the Shida Museum would consist a two story building that covers a bigger dimension area to hold remnant items from the struggle for independence. Whereas the hinder part of the Shida is designed to be a four story building that comprises two sections that could hold traditional and cultural items such as relics and archeological findings from different historical areas as well as items that depict the traditional livelihood of the country’s nine ethnic groups. As the students wanted their project to represent the country history of national dignity they reserved a large area to be a center that preserves historical items of the struggle for independence. They said “It is important to notice that we gave a bigger dimension area to the history of the struggle for independence and safeguarding the nation.”

A short cut linkage that could connect the two buildings was needed so as to enable visitors of the museum move from one section of the museum to the other as fast as possible. Since they planed the project to be a museum, they had to consult experts from the National Museum. They elaborated this idea saying; “In the course of drafting the plan, we consulted the National Museum to ensure that the plan meets the required standards. Based on the guidelines obtained, we included the construction of a basement to be a laboratory as well as a cool and well ventilated room.”

There was also an issue of location. Finally, the students identified a good location and decided that the museum needs to be situated on high hill around Mai-Chot. The location will provide the audience with a view of good scenery and a bird’s eye view of Asmara. Apart from its aesthetic beauty, the area of construction was selected for its rocky nature is advantageous for firm foundation. All in all, it took them a total of nine months for the finalization of the project.

According to this plan, the museum will have a restaurant and other recreation centers. Also according to the planners of this project, the Shida Museum meets the required standards, what remains is its implantation. The group is very optimistic to see the project implanted on the ground with the assistance of sponsors.

The 2012 graduates of the Civil Engendering are thankful of the assistance architects from the Ministry of Public Works offered, collaborations of EIT, instructors in the engineering department, the National museum, NUEYS, Segen Construction Company and others who contributed their share towards the finalization of the project.


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