Higher Education Initiative (HEI)

The Higher Education Initiative (HEI) is DKT/E's set of sexual and reproductive health activities targeting university students in Ethiopia.


Launched in 2009, HEI is DKT/E's response to university students' heightened vulnerability to HIV and unwanted pregnancy.


HEI is perhaps best known for its social media website - Temarinet.com - one of the largest social networking platforms in Ethiopia and one specifically targeted towards university students.


Project Goal

The goal of HEI is to reduce irresponsible sexual behavior, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, by improving the quality of information and service delivery for university students.


Project Justification:

Ethiopia has experienced an explosion in tertiary education over the past two decades. In 1996/7, there were just under 40,000 students in public universities in the country. In 2014, this number had increased to nearly 600,000 and there were many more students in Teaching and Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Institutes, not to mention dozens of private institutions.


The explosion of growth has taken place in the midst of several "macro-demographic" factors, including a moderate and declining HIV epidemic, the introduction and rapid uptake of family planning, and wide-scale exposure to international media and technologies.


What's more, in almost a single generation, a massive wave of students is living outside their homes and community structures for the first time, for which social norms have had little time to adapt, leaving many students vulnerable to STIs, including HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.


Though evidence is limited, research indicates that HIV-prevalence is higher among university students. For example, a 2009 study at one university showed that prevalence was 2.5% among the student population, much higher than the 0.6% of HIV-positive 20 - 24 year olds in the 2011 EDHS.



HEI takes a multi-tiered approach to programming, including:


    • Training peer educators and administrators in HIV-prevention and family planning
    • Facilitating large scale promotion, including talk shows, debates, and sports festivals for the general population
    • Girls only discussions in girls' dormitory blocks
    • Condom and contraceptive distribution through multipurpose kiosks, pushcarts, and health facilities
    • Temarinet.com, one of the largest social networking platforms in Ethiopia



HEI uses several communication channels, including IE/BCC materials, interpersonal communication through edutainment and peer educations billboards, mini-media, radio, TV and social media to carry out the above activities.



As of December 2015, HEI was active in 10 universities and had delivered the following outputs (2010 - 2015):


    • Trained 84,000 students, faculty, and administrators in peer education, HIV-prevention and more
    • Reached nearly a million students through 1,300 mass events
    • Reached 125,000 female students through 593 girls only dormitory block-based discussion sessions
    • Distributed 2.1 million condoms
    • Built Temarinet.com into a well-trafficked site with user engagement around the areas of HIV and family planning



Contact Shimeles Gebeyehu, DKT/E's HEI and SRH Coordinator to learn more.


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