Deadline Extension: 16 February, 2017
The overall outlook for Africa’s development has improved, largely due to recent growth as recorded in GDP growth (average over 4% per annum across the continent) over the last decade. A recent report by Mckinsey and Company (2014) highlighted that Africa’s collective GDP in 2008 was 1.6 trillion, roughly equal to Brazil or Russia’s. The report provides further evidence of Africa’s growing business environment, with at least 20 African companies with revenues of at least US$ three billion and a fast growing ICT sector, with 316 million new mobile subscribers. The British Council reported ‘five of the world’s top ten countries in GDP growth are in the region, with foreign direct investment up, inflation slowed and remittances at record levels’. As such, Africa is currently facing a number of emerging challenges that might also be seen as opportunities, including a rising middle class, rapid urbanization, strong ICT growth and a high proportion of youth.
Despite this growth, agricultural production and productivity remains low and focuses on subsistence. Agriculture is implemented primarily by smallholder rural farmers, who continue to face traditional challenges of rain-fed agriculture, poor postharvest management, low value addition and low productivity. Efforts to strengthen on and off farm agricultural production and value addition requires a cadre of skilled workers and facilitators to support access to available knowledge for enhancing production and marketing. While universities have been a strong focus of many programs that support the building of skills to support the provision of agricultural advisory services in Africa, less focus has been provided to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions along the educational value chain, which have the capacity to scale knowledge generation, access and use. The university sector in Africa has grown from just under 70,000 students in the late 1970’s to over six million in 2012. Universities are mushrooming all over the continent, yet demand continues to grow. However, growth has been at the expense of TVET institutions in Africa. This is because many new universities have been created by the transformation of TVET institutions, by making use of their existing infrastructure. Equally, budget allocation to the university sector has continued to grow, in most countries it has decreased for TVET institutions. Nonetheless, TVET institutions have an important role to play in putting in place the necessary skills, at scale, to support farmers and other stakeholders in driving production and development.
Introduction to the assignment
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Gulu University and Egerton University in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation (MCF) are implementing a project “Transforming African agricultural universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev)”. The TAGDev project seeks to strengthen the capacity of universities and facilitate the training of dynamic and proactive graduate leaders and entrepreneurs that can better respond to developmental challenges through enhanced application of science, technology, business and innovation for rural agricultural transformation. The project will contribute significantly to efforts aimed at escalating skilled human resources and capacity to meet the AU Agenda 2063 as well as other frameworks on the continent. RUFORUM, through the TAGDev Program, will undertake four broad activities:
- Piloting a new model of agricultural education at early adopter universities that connects tertiary agricultural education to rural communities, with an emphasis on smallholder farmers;
- Strengthening agribusiness/entrepreneurship at two universities and selected TVET institutions;
- Scaling the new model for agricultural education to other agricultural universities and TVET institutions; and,
- Increasing collaboration and mutual learning among institutions and agencies implementing and influencing innovative Tertiary Agricultural Education for rural transformation in Africa.
Through this project, the delivery of transformative services to ensure production of entrepreneurial graduates with leadership skills and potential to create impact in the rural communities will be supported. One of the sub-components of this project relates to integration of TVET into the Community Action Research Program (CARP) as a mechanism to enhance educational value chain and linkages between universities and TVET institutions as well as increase the impact and contribution of higher education institutions to rural development and transformation. As can be seen, Objective 2, 3 and 4 require that the Project clarify how the engagement between the universities who are the key implementers, with RUFORUM coordination, will work to engage with TVET institutions initially in Kenya and Uganda, but later across the continent. Thus, RUFORUM is commissioning a scoping study to provide an underpinning for the work to be undertaken and provide a clear and coherent mechanism for university engagement in TVET and with TVET institutions.