Photo Credit: Koraplatform

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Science, technology and innovation is critical for responding to the challenges of African agriculture and to elevate its performance and contribution towards economic development and poverty alleviation. Universities have a key role to play in producing the next generation of the African workforce, including researchers/scientists, extension and advisory service practitioners, input dealers and other development practitioners that are expected to generate, translate, extend and share knowledge with rural farmers to increase agricultural productivity, agribusiness and incomes. Trained human resources in a wide range of topics, aligned to the Science Agenda for African Agriculture, are central to stimulating science-based technology innovation. Research has shown the returns to investment in higher education are around 20%, and in Africa closer to 30% (Borland et al., 2000; Montenegro and Patrinos, 2013; USAID, 2014). These are higher returns to investments than in both secondary and primary education.

Although higher education enrolment and graduation rates have increased considerably gross enrolment ratios remain low, with only 6% of Africans enrolled in universities (Bloom et al., 2006) compared to 40% in Latin America and 94% in North America. Moreover, the increase has come at the expense of quality with expenditure per student falling significantly. There is thus an urgent need to invest in higher education and for higher education to transform itself to produce the quality of graduates and knowledge needed to achieve the African Unions Agenda 2063.

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Some of the Agshare Implementing Members at a Convening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Members of the Agshare2 Projects at a Convening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The AgShare project aims to create a scalable and sustainable method of filling critical gaps in agriculture related curriculum through a redesigned MSc process. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) supports universities to address the important and largely unfulfilled role that universities play in contributing to the well‐being of small‐scale farmers and economic development of countries throughout the sub‐Saharan Africa region.

Through the AgShare II project, RUFORUM plays two key roles – to support the wide dissemination of the Agshare Methods and support Agshare Champions. In 2014 RUFORUM conducted a professional development needs survey focusing on staff from RUFORUM member universities that participated in Agshare I and those that participated in previous RUFORUM E-learning activities. The survey sought to find out two key issues: a) What had happened since staff engagement in Agshare I and RUFORUM e-learning initiatives? and b) What were the professional development needs of the staff?

Fourteen staff responded to the survey. According to the findings, Fifty percent (50%) said that the greatest value to them for being part of developing open educational resources has been receiving useful feedback for their content. Amazingly only one out of fourteen was inspired to enroll for an online course. Seven (50%) respondents said that their students had been involved in providing feedback to their content and therefore enriching it.

The top two professional development priorities identified by through the survey were (a) learning how to use participatory action research concepts and (b) facilitating community engagements and student participation. It was interesting to note that only 2 respondents considered it their priority to learn how to learn online. Click here to view the findings.

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27-29 August, Windhoek Namibia

University of Namibia

We are pleased to announce the RUFORUM 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) that will take place 27-29 August, 2015 in Windhoek, Namibia. This year’s AGM will be hosted by the Government of Namibia and University of Namibia. The RUFORUM AGM provides a platform for RUFORUM member universities to lesson learn from each other and non-member universities as well as key stakeholders in higher education and agricultural development who are normally invited to attend as observers.

This Year’s AGM comes on the heels of Celebrations that marked 10 years of RUFORUM’s existence and contribution to the Higher Education and Agriculture Sectors in Africa. RUFORUM is also currently finalizing its Strategic Business Plan (2015-2020). The 11th AGM will provide a platform for mobilizing participation of African Universities in Africa’s development agenda. The convening will be attended by Vice-Chancellors/Presidents and Principals/Deans from members (including full member universities and associate member universities) and other key invited stakeholders. Updates about the meeting will be available through our social media platforms.

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