Fasil Demsash



Originally of Ethiopian origin, I have more than ten years of professional work experience, having worked as a teacher, careers adviser and researcher on three continents: Africa, North America and Europe. I left my native land, after I was involved in the student demonstration, which was about the violation of human rights and repression of academic freedoms in Addis Ababa University in 2001. As a Student spokesman (in April 2001), I denounced the involvement and use of armed forces in academic institution in Ethiopia, as a result of which I was detained, arrested and tortured by the police. Later, I was forced to flee my country and became a refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, where I documented my terrible life experience under the Ethiopian government in the Human Right Watch report, “Lessons in Repression: Violations of Academic Freedom in Ethiopia”.

I completed both my graduate and undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba, Canada and conducted a research on Foreign Educated Teachers in Canada as part of my Masters Degree in education. As a new immigrant to Canada, I had some challenges and opportunities to get a teaching job in Canadian schools and partly it was this personal experience (and a desire to teach too) that motivated me to embark onto the PhD study program at the University of York, with a view of investigating the experiences of highly skilled immigrants (in general) and those with similar social and cultural background to me (in particular). My PhD research title is “The Puzzle of Integration: The Experience of Non-Western-Educated Teachers in England” and the main purpose of my research is to investigate the experience of NWETs in English schools and formulate a practical framework that effectively endorses their integration in schools in a more effective and economical way.

Over the last ten years, I have travelled widely and worked with people from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds and want to expand my life and work experiences through research and teaching internationally.

  • 2011 – present: Tutor, Hull and York Medical Schools, University of York, UK
  • 2011 – present: PhD in Philosophy of Education, University of York, UK
  • 2005 – 2007: Masters in Education, University of Manitoba, Canada
  • 2003 – 2005: Post Bacc. Diploma in Education, University of Manitoba, Canada
  • 1999 – 2001: BA in Educational Admin (I), Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

Professional Membership


Research interests

My main PhD research interest involves exploring the experiences of non-Western Educated Teachers (NWETs) in the UK along the lines of immigration and integration policies to date. I am particularly interested in understanding the factors that favour or obscure highly skilled immigrants (in general) and NWETs (in particular) in obtaining a teaching job in English schools in the UK. In my masters study program, I carried out a research on the experience of foreign educated teachers in Canada and found out that lack of ‘recognition of personal and educational values’ of foreign educated teachers to be the main barrier to the employment of foreign educated teachers in Canadian schools. In this research, I will explore the experience of NWETs in secondary high schools in Bradford, England, particularly focusing on the factors that favour or obstruct their efforts to integrate with local schools as teachers. The main aim is to investigate the experiences of NEWTs and formulate a practical framework that effectively endorses their integration in schools that can tackle the rising pattern of shortage of teachers in England year after year. 

Other research interests

I also have high research interests in understanding the following:

  • Social mobility of African immigrants
  • Social inclusions and exclusions of immigrants
  • Immigrants, educational qualification, work experience and employment trajectories
  • International perspectives of higher educations
  • Race, culture, gender, language and identity in schools and higher educations
  • Teaching methodologies and student achievements
  • Global education and dual heritage/citizenships both in schools and higher educations
  • Human and academic rights in Western and non-Western nations
  • Democracy, governance, social and educational policies in the Western world


Dr Vanita Sundaram


Research publications and papers

Demsash, F. (2012). Multiple Problems of Black PhD Students in British Higher Education, paper presented at British Educational Research Association (BERA), Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK

Demsash, F. (2011). Integrating Non-Western Teachers of Mathematics in Schools. Paper presented in the Department of Education, University of York, UK

Craig, G., Adamson, A., Ali, N., & Demsash, F. (2010). Mapping Rapidly Changing Minority Ethnic Populations in York. http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/ethnicity-population-change-york-full.pdf

Wilkinson, L., Ali, M., Hebert, Y., McDonald, R., Oriola, T., & Demsash, F. (2010).  A Generational Examination of Identity Formation among Youth. Paper presented at Metropolis British Colombia  Policy Symposium, Victoria, BC, Canada

Demsash, F.(2008): Presented joint paper at European Master’s Degree in Human Rights Institution, Venice, Italy in 2008 on the ‘Protection of Refugees and Human Rights in Africa’, Venice, Italy

Hébert, Y., Wilkinson, L., & Ali, M. (2008). Second Generation Youth in Canada, Their motilities and Identification: Relevance to Citizenship Education, Brock Education, vol.17 (1), spring 2008. http://www.ed.brocku.ca/ojs/index.php/brocked/article/.../193/161

Wilkinson, L., McDonald, R., Demsash, F., Oriola, T. (2008).  The Experiences of Second Generation of Canadians, Canadian Diversity vol.6.2, spring 2008. http://canada.metropolis.net/publications/Diversity/can_diversity_vol_62_spring08_e.pdf

Demsash, F. (2007). Foreign Educated Teachers in Canada: Paralyzed Human Resources (Masters Dissertation). http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/graduate_studies/acclaim/mos/07fasil.htm

Demsash, F. (2007). Foreign Educated Teachers in Canada: Paralyzed Human Resource. Paper presented at the Graduate Student Symposium, University of Manitoba, Canada

Demsash, F. (2006). Higher Education and Democracy in Ethiopia. Paper presented at Summer Institution, University of Manitoba, Canada

Wilkinson, L., McDonald, R., Demsash, F., & Oriola, T. (2007). Visualizing Canada, Identity & Belonging among Second Generation Youth in Winnipeg, Canada, May 2007 http://canada.metropolis.net/events/10th_national_halifax08/presentations/B12-Wilkinson%5ELori.pdf

Wilkinson, L., Oriola, T., McDonald, R., & Demsash, F. (2007). Inclusion and Exclusion among Canadian Youth in a Mid-Sized Canadian City. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Sociology Association, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Wilkinson, L., McDonald, R., Demsash, F., Oriola, T. (2007). Negotiating the City: Exposition of Urban Life Among Winnipeg Youth, 76th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Canada http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/departments/sociology/media/2008_Sociology_Newsletter.pdf

Wilkinson, L. McDonald, R., Demsash, F., & Oriola, T. (2007). The Social Integration of Newcomer and Second Generation Youth in Canada. Paper presented at the 9th National Metropolis Conference, University of York, Toronto, Canada


Teaching experience

  • 2011 – 2011: Tutor, Hull and York Medical Schools, University of York, UK
  • 2011 – 2011: Administrative Assistant, City of York Council, York, UK
  • 2010 – 2011: Personal Adviser, Intraining Groups, Newcastle College, UK
  • 2008 – 2010: Learning and Work Adviser, Future Prospects, York Council, UK
  • 2007 – 2007: Teacher, Horizon Technical College, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • 2004 – 2007: Research Assistant, University of Manitoba, Canada

Other activities

Other activities

Demsash, F. (Film Producer) (2010). Chinese International Students in York [DVD]. http://vimeo.com/11090732

Demsash, F. (2009). Guest Speaker at Holocaust Memorial Day, York, UK http://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=17387

Demsash, F. (2008). Submission to the UN Committee against Torture, http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/11/02/submission-committee-against-torture-ethiopia/

Demsash, F. (2008). Support of the Torture Bill Evidence and Briefings, London, UK http://www.redress.org/the-torture-bill/evidence-and-briefings

Demsash, F. (2008): Guest Speaker at York International Remembrance Day, York St John University, York, UK

Demsash, F. (2005). Interview on Global TV [Charles’ Talk Show] on ‘Refugees in Exiles’, Winnipeg, Canada

Demsash, F. (2002). Lessons in Repression: Violations of Academic Freedom in Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch report (Fasil Eshetu, major contributor). http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,HRW,,ETH,,3f4f59533,0.html

Demsash, F. (2002). Hidden in Plain View: Refugees Living without Protection in Nairobi and Kampala. Human Right Watch Report (Synonymous contributor). http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,HRW,,KEN,456d621e2,3e314172e,0.html

United Kingdom

Demsash, F. (2009): Remembering the Massacre of University Students in Ethiopia http://abbaymedia.com/remembering-april-2001s-massacre-of-ethiopian-students/ (London, UK)

Demsash, F. (2009): Refugee Action York: Supporter, guest speaker (2009) http://refugeeactionyork.org/

Demsash, F. (2012): York City of Sanctuary, Elected Management Committee  http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/york

Demsash, F. (2009): JUST: North Yorkshire Racial and Justice Forum (member since 2008) http://www.justwestyorkshire.info/

Demsash, F. (2008): York Racial Equality Network (member since 2008) http://www.yren.co.uk/


  • Involved in Students’ Unions at the University of Manitoba and supported the works of  University of Manitoba Student Union (UMSU), African / Ethiopian Students’ Association (as Chairman),  Model United Nations (Active member) and Graduate Student Association (GSA)
  • Supported the Ethiopian Society in Winnipeg (Canada) in organising and participating in events, national holidays  and demonstrations against the Ethiopian government on several issues including  the violation of human and academic rights and illegal detention of opposition leaders in Ethiopia in 2005
  • Shared my life experience (including refugee life in Kenya) to graduate students and faculty members at the University of Manitoba and collect petition against the Ethiopian government action of detention of the former opposition political leaders in Ethiopia in 2005
  • Primary adviser for ‘Refugee life and Exiles’ educational participatory activities for University and high school students at Sisler high Secondary School, Winnipeg, Canada (interviewed on Global TV, 2005)
  • Worked with Fr. Dr David Cremer, St Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Canada http://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/jesuit_centre/245.html
  • Italy 2006:  Travel / Study course (Catholic Heritage and Culture): Visited eternal Rome (six days in the centre and soul of Roman Catholism, papa and princely places and monuments ranging from Egyptian obelisks to Fascist era train stations and Vatican City), Ravenna (two days in the historical UNESCO heritage sites), Venice (three days, Golden Basilica of San Marco & Doges’ Palace), Padua (a day at St Anthony’s Church and I met Stephen W. Hawking by coincidence? I cannot still believe!) and the last three days in Florence, the capital of the Italian Renaissance, where we explored the development of arts, architecture, literature , science and government and enjoyed Vasil’s music concert (popular).

Kenya (Nairobi, 2001 - 2002)

Ethiopia (Addis Ababa University, 1998 – 2001)

Fasil Eshetu Demsash, former teacher and Spokesperson at Addis Ababa University. Major contributions (from 1998 to 2001) include:

  • September 1998: Teacher / Student Activist (at Addis Ababa University). I organised and led a peaceful demonstration against the government’s decision to cancel Educational Administration Course at Addis Ababa University and block us from enrolling at AAU in for the reason of ethnic diversity among the teacher candidates including myself, which the government identified me as Amara tribe (a tribe known for its influence in governance, culture, civilisation including the official language  of Ethiopia (Amharic). I won my case and enabled 149 students to enrol (sadly we lost one of our colleagues along the struggle). I later received a certificate of recognition from academics and student union representatives for taking the lead and being a voice for teachers from rural / urban schools in Ethiopia
  • January 1999: I challenged the President of the Southern People Nation and Nationalities on the payment of financial assistance to teachers of specific ethnicity (but not Amharas) and won my appeal was awarded a full salary payment while I was studying at Addis Ababa University
  • March 2000: I regularly denounced the illegal detention and arrest of university students, mainly from the Oromo ethnic background at Addis Ababa University and wrote letters to the Ethiopian Parliament on the poor record of legitimacy and accountability of police in the university compound
  • January 2001: During the preparation of the 50 years of jubilee of the Addis Ababa University, I gave interview to Medias regarding the negative impact of the government’s acts of division of the student community along the lines of culture and ethnicity and raised some incidents of violation of students and academic rights at the Addis Ababa University. (Close up (ETV) January 2001)
  • February 2001: At the National Educational Conference, I challenged  the ex- Ministry of Education (Genet Zewde)  and Speaker of the Ethiopian Parliament (Almaz Meko) on the ineffectiveness of affirmative actions for the rural children in elementary and secondary schools in Ethiopia and suggested change on policies of education to empower women into education and further studies
  • February 2001: I was invited by the Norwegian Government  to  attend the International Students’ Festival in Trondheim, Norway and  talk on human rights and academic freedom in Ethiopia but  unable to attend due to some problems
  • April 2001: I organised and led the Addis Ababa University student movement, and gave the first interview to the BBC and Reuter on the violation of human and academic rights of students on 11th April 2011 in Addis Ababa University. Later, I wrote the statements of the Addis Ababa University students and read them at the general meeting at AAU in front of more than 3000 university students and government officials, asking the government to refrain from military actions and respect students’ right in the university campus.  I demanded the release of students from detention Centre but later I was detained, arrested and tortured by the Ethiopian Government representatives and forced to leave the country for good
  • May 2001: I became a refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, where I was given a protection by the UNHCR at Goal Accommodation Centre. Later, I was sponsored by the Canadian Government to resettle in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2002. Both before and after my resettlement, I helped Ethiopian refugees including those former university students from Addis Ababa University, ex-soldiers and youngsters with severe physical disabilities, who are now settled in Sweden and Norway.
  • As a former university student and teacher in Ethiopia, I consistently supported and advocated a non-violent demonstration and engagement with civil and government authorities to challenge them and bring about a change. I always believe in a non-violent approach to peace, democracy and freedom in Ethiopia, and elsewhere; and consider education is the kindling of a flame  (Socrates) for people’s attitudinal change, social development and better governance across the globe.

Travelled: Kenya (Nairobi), Canada (Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Brooks), USA (Chicago) and Kentucky (Louisville), Greece (Athens, Corinth, Mycenae, Argos, Tripoli, Sparta and Olympia), Netherlands (Amsterdam and Hague ICC), Belgium (Brussels), Ireland (Dublin and Kerry), Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, Padua, Ravenna and the Vatican City) and Hungary (Budapest) and many parts of UK including Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Newcastle, Harrogate, Selby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Peterborough, Barnsley and Mexborough.


Contact details

Fasil Demsash