Apply Now: Terms of Reference to Undertake Development of Community Engagement Strategy for the RUFORUM Network Universities


Background

Universities in Africa and elsewhere are under immense pressure to provide evidence of their contribution to society and respond to the demand to change[1]. This requires universities to innovate and develop models of engaging with the communities at various levels. In doing so, universities have had to transition from the ‘two role model’ functions to ‘three role model’ functions i.e. from merely teaching and research to include direct relations with society. Universities have continued to evolve this third role reducing intermediaries between the results produced and their end users[2]. This third role of the universities introduces intricate discussions as to when and how universities operationalise extension, facilitation and integration and what role they ought to play directly and/or indirectly in the development space. It is also a common consensus today that the global knowledge economy has fundamentally grown and it is the functional role of universities to facilitate this process through processing information. Consequently, the quality, effectiveness and relevance of the university system becomes paramount and will proportionately relate to the ability of people, society and institutions to develop[3].

In that regard, for universities to increase their contribution to development through the production and distribution of knowledge, universities in developing countries need to transform themselves into ‘developmental universities’. Achieving this perspective depends on the extent to which universities position themselves as agents of community development and they exude different community engagement strategies that are appropriate and work to the benefit of both the communities and the universities is pivotal.   For example, how do universities focus as facilitators of partnerships that enhance the achievement of societal impact with diverse attribution of impact to arrange of actors working on the rural transformation space. Depending on the level of implementation, universities operate at different points on the continuum of community, industry or national engagement and development space.  The strategies adopted may fall within one or more of the transactional, transitional and transformational engagement strategies[4] but should always be adapted to suit university local conditions and their specific vision, mission and institutional system.

There is growing enthusiasm among universities and other institutions of higher learning to address these emerging issues  in order help them work outside their traditional ‘silos’ of exclusion[5]. Given the dynamics of the current issues around community engagement that are less defined by political boundaries but more by place requirements, a new type of engagement needs to be thoroughly thought through for efficiency, effectiveness, valorization and sustainability. It is within this context that the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM; see: www.ruforum.org) in partnership with Egerton University and Gulu University launched the community engagement program that was meant to facilitate greater university engagement with smallholder farming communities in Uganda and Kenya. Each of these universities developed a model relevant and applicable to its circumstances. Each of these universities developed a model of community outreach relevant and applicable to its circumstances i.e. the Farm Attachment at Egerton University and the Student Centered Outreach (S-C-O)[6] model at Gulu University. These outreach model that facilitates students’ linkages with the community through an innovative engagement where students who are non-residents and/or resident facilitate community development processes and extension services. Over the years of implementation, these models have as shown commendable progress in increasing universities’ visibility at community level, training of high quality graduates and generation of appropriate technologies, transformation of farming practices and smallholder farmer livelihoods diversification. A significant momentum for institutionalizing and scaling out the community engagement with smallholder farming communities has been created. Doing this more widely requires a strategy to guide the process at RUFORUM network level.

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Apply Now: Terms of Reference to undertake a Scoping Study on Technical and Vocational Education and training (TVET) in selected African countries


Deadline Extension: 16 February, 2017 

Background

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[1] (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[2]. 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[3]’. 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)[4] 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.

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Six staff appointed at the RUFORUM Secretariat


The RUFORUM Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of six staff at the RUFORUM Secretariat: Mrs. Sylvia Chindime Mkandawire is the Programme Manager for Training and Quality Assurance and Dr. Solange Uwituze is the Programme Manager for Partnerships and Business Management. Under The MCF@RUFORUM project, Dr. Anthony Egeru is the Manager of MCF@RUFORUM, Dr. Rukarwa Runyararo Jolyn is the Research and Grants Officer, Dr. Sylvanus Mensah is the Recruitment and Training Officer and Ms. Angoku Loyce, is the Senior Finance Officer. Brief biodata for each one of them is presented below;

sylviaMrs. Sylvia Chindime Mkandawire, a Malawian, is the recently appointed Programme Manager for Training and Quality Assurance at the RUFORUM Secretariat. Sylvia has over 11 years of work experience in Higher Education and capacity building related initiatives. She has previously served as Training Officer at the RUFORUM Secretariat, Lecturer at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), and an independent consultant for dairy promotion programmes in Malawi. Sylvia has managed 11 multi donor capacity building projects in Africa, has vast experience in coordination of intra African academic mobility for students and staff, spearheaded postgraduate quality assurance among the RUFORUM member universities, scholarship management systems, curriculum reviews and development. Sylvia has publications in the field of agriculture rural innovations and capacity building initiatives in Africa and is a RUFORUM alumni.

solangeDr. Solange Uwituze, a Rwandese is the new Programme Manager for Partnerships and Business Management at the RUFORUM Secretariat. She previously served as the Programme Manager for Training and Quality Assurance at the same Organisation. Prior to joining RUFORUM, she served as a Lecturer and Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture – National University of Rwanda. Dr. Uwituze is well published in the area of beef cattle nutrition and to a lesser extent the dairy sector. She has successfully led development of multimillion US Dollar projects and has extensive experience in leadership and management of various multilateral Capacity Building projects. Dr Uwituze is a Founding Fellow of the Rwanda Academy of Science.

anthonyDr. Egeru Anthony,  a Ugandan is the Manager of The MCF@RUFORUM project, an eight year project funded by The MasterCard Foundation to strengthen the effectiveness of university contribution to development through skills development particularly entrepreneurship of talented, motivated and disadvantaged youth in Africa. He previously served as Assistant Grants Manager at RUFORUM Secretariat, Lecturer at Makerere University and a secondary school teacher at Merryland High School, Entebbe. Anthony is a distinguished academic with a Research Gate Score of 10.34 and h-index of 4 and 13,710 reads and reviews in Academia. Anthony has multi-faceted experience in research including in systems ecology with a focus on management of dryland ecosystems, early warning system, rangeland health monitoring, land use planning, pastoral livelihoods, agro-forestry systems, climate change, adaptation and resilience programming and analysis, development processes-especially participatory analysis and curriculum design and development.

jolynDr. Rukarwa Runyararo Jolyn, a Zimbabwean, is the Research and Grants Officer for The MCF@RUFORUM project at the RUFORUM Secretariat.  She holds a PhD in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology (Makerere University, 2014), Post graduate Diploma-Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology (Ghent University, Belgium, 2010), MSc. Crop Science majoring in Biotechnology (Makerere University, 2008) and BSc. in Agriculture (Hons) (University of Zimbabwe, 2005). Runyararo started her career as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Zimbabwe (2007) before joining the International Potato Centre in Uganda in 2013 and later served as a part time Lecturer at Kyambogo University (2015) and a visiting Lecturer at the Makerere University Centre for Crop Improvement in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). She also served as a Programme Management Assistant for an international programme entitled Agricultural Investors as Development Actors (AIDA). Runyararo has extensive experience in research in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, but has also obtained a wealth of experience in administration and coordination of research projects. Runyararo is a dedicated and technically skilled professional with a versatile administrative support skill set developed through experience as an intern student at the RUFORUM Secretariat.

sylvanusDr. Sylvanus Mensah, a Beninese is the Recruitment and Training Officer for The MCF@RUFORUM project. He holds a PhD in Forestry (University of Stellenbosch, 2016); MSc. in Natural Resources Management (2013) and BSc. in Agricultural Sciences (2010) at University of Abomey-Calavi. Dr Sylvanus Mensah started his career as Research Assistant at the Laboratory of Applied Ecology at the University of Abomey-Calavi. He later joined the Laboratory of Biomathematics and Forest Estimations of the University of Abomey-Calavi as the Assistant-Head of the research unit. Dr. Mensah is an agricultural engineer who shifted a bit to study natural resources management and forestry where most of his research studies were conducted. For the past four years, he was involved in research projects in Benin and South Africa on several aspects of natural forest ecosystems, including forest ecology and management, forest estimations and precision, biology conservation, ethnoecology, ecosystem services, biomass modelling and climate change, functional ecology and forest productivity. He has authored a number of publications in international peer-review journals.

loyceMs. Angoku Loyce, a Ugandan, is the Senior Finance Officer for The MCF@RUFORUM project and is a member of the Chartered Public Accountants of Uganda (CPA). She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting option) obtained in 2004 from Makerere University Business School. Loyce Angoku has twelve years of experience in broad areas of general banking operations having built a career in the sector while working at Centenary Bank in Uganda. While she started as a banking officer in 2005, her zeal, professionalism and positive attitude saw her rise through the ladder to the level of Assistant Manager in 2016. At RUFORUM Secretariat she is responsible for managing the financial issues of The MCF@RUFORUM project.

To download the full press release, please click here.

Partnership to transform agricultural education


By Munyaradzi Makoni, University World News

A ground-breaking partnership between the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and The MasterCard Foundation is aiming to strengthen efforts to revamp the agriculture curriculum across Africa.

It is seeking to transform agriculture into a vibrant sector linked to African universities that can produce high-performing graduates and high-quality research.

The eight-year programme backed with US$27.1 million from The MasterCard Foundation was launched during the Fifth African Higher Education Week and the RUFORUM Biennial Conference held from 17-21 October at the Century City Conference Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.

Aligned to the anticipated boost in agriculture, the meeting, attended by vice-chancellors from more than 60 universities in Africa, among the 700 delegates, had as its theme, “Linking agricultural universities with the civil society, the private sector, governments and other stakeholders in support of agricultural development”.

New agriculture model

“This is an exciting opportunity for RUFORUM to strengthen agriculture in Africa, by connecting to empower all players, learning institutions, agriculture communities and the private sector to connect knowledge needed to boost the sector,” Peter Materu, director, education and learning, The MasterCard Foundation, told University World News.

There has been a lot of knowledge that has not been connected for the benefit of society, said Materu, adding that smallholder farmers will be the main feature of this programme as they have often been left out in the past. Also, rising food demands make urban agriculture even more necessary.

A new agriculture curriculum for universities was critical in absorbing and feeding the burgeoning youthful population across the continent, he said.

There were a lot of young people between 15 and 24 years of age in Africa, a figure expected to double by 2050, pushing the demand for jobs and food even higher. The most affected were typically the poor youth, he said. At a time when urban migration and youth poverty in urban centres are increasing because economies in countries are not growing, agriculture could be a solution to the problem.

“There is a need to do more to increase the productivity of agriculture and the universities have a role to play,” said Materu, adding that connecting university education to the needs of the agriculture communities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development was never more relevant than now.

The curriculum will have to be tailored to meet these needs, he said, and a lot of knowledge exists on how communities, universities and industry can best interact, but much of the knowledge is not fully utilised on how these groups can work together to strengthen agriculture.

RUFORUM has a network that supports some universities and it will reach many more universities and also attract other institutions, said Materu.

“We anticipate that RUFORUM will be open to knowledge from institutions in the world that have been working with communities in agriculture so that we can fast-track this training,” he said.

The practical component will be stronger in the programme as students will have the opportunity to work with farmers in the community, Materu added. “Studying and working in an environment in which the farmers work will help famers to improve,” he said.

Recruitment of students

Dr Anthony Egeru, Regional Coordinator of The MasterCard Foundation and RUFORUM project, said the recruitment of students with a passion for agriculture starts in December and selected students will go through orientation for a month in June-July before university starts.

A total of 210 students, 110 undergraduates and 110 postgraduates, who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds will be trained. 70% of recruits will come from countries where early adopter universities of the new model are based and 30% are expected to come from countries that are in difficult circumstances.

“They will strive for gender equity, with 60% of women being recruited,” Materu said.

Gulu University in Uganda and Egerton University in Kenya have been named the early adopters of the programme.

“These universities have already been collecting information and researching the needs of farming communities and educating students while they work with farmers, which made them a leading choice to run the pilot,” said Egeru.

Yet another opportunity for transformative action research will come from using the expanded RUFORUM Community Action Research Programme, or CARP, to enrich university-led community impact. CARP will extend to include technical and vocational education and training institutions to improve joint work between colleges and universities.

Transformation through internationalisation

The initial focus of the programme is not about internationalisation of higher education but making sure African universities have greater focus on meaningful contribution to development, said Egeru.

But internationalisation will occur through the knowledge transfer process as the programmes developed by Gulu and Egerton universities scale up, he explained.

To enrich the programme, partnerships will be forged with various global institutions that are running advanced programmes similar to those under discussion, such as Earth University in Costa Rica, Entrepreneurship for Impact Foundation based in Italy and Harvard University.

“So parts of the programme will begin to internationalise even if it is just for the content of one course,” Egeru said, adding that the idea is to ensure that students will benefit from leadership training that will make them the next generation of agricultural leaders.

He said the key component of entrepreneurship will be strengthened in universities, through a competitive entrepreneurship challenge fund, and this will be done in a way that allows students to write and test their business proposals.

“The students will not only become thought leaders, they will become part of the key component on entrepreneurship which will extend to universities through the entrepreneurship challenge fund, which will catalyse entrepreneurship training in universities,” Egeru told University World News.

The fund will cater for learning experiences that simulate a real business environment and so students will learn about issues such as how to pay tax and the ethics of doing business.

He added that a portion of the US$27.1 million will be open to other universities through a challenge fund to offer the same type of training.

The MasterCard Foundation has invested US$300 million in agriculture-related programmes across Africa, as RUFORUM positions itself to share best practices in Africa. Materu said: “We in the Foundation take agriculture seriously as it has the potential to secure jobs for the young and secure livelihoods for the future.”

This article has been sourced from http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20161026142339345