The RUFORUM information and communication technology (ICT) program was established in 2009. One of its goals is to support the member universities to implement technology-mediated teaching and learning. The intended outcome is member universities improving the quality of learning delivery. When this happens quality students would be produced and in turn contribute towards solving Africa’s development challenges.
In 2009 the RUFORUM Secretariat carried out the ICT Readiness Analysis. One of the findings was that only 38% of the member universities provided incentives for staff to use ICT for teaching, learning and research. As a follow up to the 2009 study, a series of eLearning workshops have been held in selected RUFORUM member universities. In Sudan, Kordofan University and University of Gezira have been the beneficiaries.
In December 2011 fifty academic staff from Kordofan University were trained in eLearning concepts and the MOODLE learning management system. From 22nd – 28th March 2015 forty academic staff from the University of Gezira were also trained in eLearning concepts and the MOODLE learning management system. At both universities time was also spent engaging the senior university leaders on how they could create a supportive environment for eLearning development. The RUFORUM Secretariat believes that these capacity building initiatives will build a necessary pool of eLearning champions.
Over the years, universities in Africa have sought opportunities to send their staff for post-graduate training abroad in a bid to strengthen research and training, at very high costs. The loss of faculty for 4 to 5 years has negatively affected universities. In order to meet the growing demand for Doctoral level scientists in Africa, the Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) programme was initiated by RUFORUM Vice Chancellors to improve the quality of higher education at African Universities by increasing the proportion of academic staff with PhD qualifications, contributing to locally relevant research and reducing the time away from the home institution. The initiative was officially launched by the African Union Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, H.E. Dr Martial De Paul Ikounga on 25th July 2014 at Maputo, Mozambique during the RUFORUM Fourth Biennial Conference. The specific objectives of the GTA are to:
- Improve the quality of higher education and increase the pool of PhD-level trained academic staff in African universities;
- Provide opportunities for the doctoral research to contribute more directly to African development
- Strengthen inter- university collaboration in the field of higher education in Africa; and
- Promote staff mobility among RUFORUM member universities, and across Africa.
The RUFORUM Secretariat announces the availability of 63 PhD training opportunities under the GTA for the academic year beginning September, 2014. Potential applicants who are teaching staff at RUFORUM Member Universities are invited to submit applications to the RUFORUM Secretariat. Read more
 The GTA was initiated by 42 African Vice Chancellors whose universities are members of RUFORUM.
When enterprising farmer Eric Galotshoge had the idea of importing a herd of dairy goats and producing goats’ milk to satisfy a burgeoning local market, he thought he was onto a sure thing. As a farmer with an entrepreneurial turn of mind, he did his market research and found that a strong demand existed from local supermarkets, hotels and game lodges for locally produced goats’ milk.
What he did not anticipate, however, was the difficulty of feeding and caring for his herd of 30 British Alpine and Toggenburg goats, imported from South Africa. These highly productive and somewhat high maintenance dairy animals could not simply be left to forage off the land, as the local Tswana goats typically do. They needed to eat lucerne (a forage crop known also as alfalfa), which was not readily available in Botswana. “These exotic breeds didn’t acclimatise well, and all 30 goats died because of disease and lack of feed,” he says.
At the time, Galotshoge was gearing up to collaborate with university researchers who were planning to do experiments on his farm in the hope of discovering how best these highly productive dairy goats, imported from temperate climates, could be helped to thrive in Botswana’s arid climate, particularly as a poverty-alleviation measure for small farmers with few resources. But most of Galotshoge’s goats died before work could begin, due ironically to the very lack of knowledge that researchers were hoping to gain through their on-farm experiments. As an intrepid farmer with resources and business acumen, Galotshoge had as good a chance as most farmers do of capitalising on a promising new idea. But because of critical gaps in his knowledge that could only be supplied by local research, the enterprise failed on his first attempt.
Fortunately, Galotshoge is trying again – and this time he’s collaborating with researchers from the Botswana College of Agriculture, who have been involved in research to support dairy goat farming among small-scale farmers. Touring his farm with Dr Gaolebale Mpapho, a senior lecturer in dairy science, Galotshoge points out facilities that he has designed specifically with small-scale farmers’ needs in mind, such as a small elevated shelter and a milking platform.
The dairy goat initiative is one of three projects from the Botswana College of Agriculture that is being supported by RUFORUM, through its Competitive Research Grants programme to support masters-level training. Click here to read more