PhD Oral Exam - Mariam Mekdelawit Sambe, Education
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Drawing on data I compiled from five years of critical ethnography and photovoice through the conceptual framework of ‘critical bricolage’, I examined AIDS education programs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The main objective of this doctoral thesis was to evaluate formal AIDS education as an agent to promote positive changes in AIDS prevention. The study included a critical ethnographical analysis in which I conducted focus groups with 15 high-school students about their experiences in receiving AIDS education and interviewed 15 parents and 15 teachers about their experiences in providing the education. To develop participatory knowledge about the current levels and depth of information available in regards to AIDS, I further supplemented the focus group and interview data with a photovoice project with 12 teenage co-researchers, where a more comprehensive look at the issues at stake was taken. As such, the photovoice project enabled the adolescents to articulate their concerns and to propose solutions to the HIV/AIDS crisis by producing photographs, texts, and narratives that depicted their concerns as ‘at-risk youth’ who are advocating for social change. In this thesis, I discuss the implications emerging from this study in depth, with emphasis placed on its key findings: Formal AIDS education is increasingly unpopular and ineffective in Addis Ababa, and AIDS education stakeholders are seeking new ways of teaching about the disease. Subsequently, I propose the adoption of critical pedagogy along with the implementation of new government regulations as viable solutions to improve current AIDS education in Ethiopia.