Enhancing Collaboration and Quality in Postgraduate Training: Joint Module Training Delivery in RUFORUM Regional Programmes


In its efforts to strengthen the quality of post graduate training programmes and partnerships, RUFORUM and the member universities are using a combination of innovative approaches in the curriculum design and delivery of the regional postgraduate training programmes. A case is the RUFORUM multidisciplinary PhD programme in Agriculture Rural Innovation (ARI) which is hosted simultaneously by three RUFORUM member universities (Makerere University- Uganda, Egerton University – Kenya and Sokoine University of Agriculture – Tanzania) using same curriculum and content. The PhD ARI Program is implemented in collaboration with three other European universities namely Montpellier Sup Agro in France, Wagenigen University in the Netherlands and University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

With financial support from Carnegie Cooperation of New York, RUFORUM supported the joint implementation of field based module on Participatory Methods and Action Research for innovation in livelihoods and agricultural systems offered under the  PhD Agricultural and Rural Innovations (ARI). This module is unique in delivery as it brings together students from the three universities in Africa and three universities in Europe to a Common facility.  This year’s field training took place in Rakai District in Uganda. A total of 18 students and five academic staff from the consortium spent two weeks in the field to learn together with farming communities. The students were from Africa (DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda); Europe (France and Spain); and Latin America (Guatemala). Female participants represented 31.6%. The diversity of students and staff was a learning resource that enabled substantial cross learning and complementarity of skills.

Above: PhD students in Rakai Working with Communities

Above: PhD students in Rakai Working with Communities

The joint module provides valuable insights on how scientists could engage with communities to undertake research for development. This gives opportunities to students to rethink and nest their research into development challenges of communities as well as apply some of the tools learnt in their own research.

Below there is an anecdotal testimony from one of the students of the field module: “The course offers a different approach to research diversity such as agro-ecological zonation, farm strategy model, and innovation histories as an alternative to statistical representativeness. The most exciting are the hands-on tools and combined approaches such as the use of GPS, GIS, Innovation Histories and Trends which we used to comprehensively understand the communities and their livelihood dynamics. At the end of the course we had an exciting feedback session to provide insights on possible innovative solutions for improving livelihood of these communities. It was good to note the keen interest of the NGOs and policy makers working in the area to take on the suggestions and implement them. I also appreciated an opportunity for co-learning, experience sharing, and team work with fellow classmates from various countries and cultures”.  Mrs. Dorcas Loga Okello

A number of spillover effects have emerged for this arrangement which include; opportunities for joint supervisor of the students by European and African staff hence sustaining partnerships, cross cultural learning, assured consistent quality of the ARI brand (student) across the participating universities. Click here to read more.

His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika calls for increased investment in Science, Technology and Innovations to drive Africa’s development Agenda


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“Africa must improve its capacity to make use of Science and Technology to enhance food production and its own competitiveness in the global marketplace.” said His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi during the official opening ceremony of the Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Strengthening Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa at the State House in Lilongwe, Malawi yesterday.

In his remarks, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika highlighted the need for availability of a ‘cadre’ of highly trained science professionals. “It is the role of universities to train the future workforce for the continent, to undertake research and to ensure that generated knowledge makes an impact on African societies.” he said.

The opening ceremony was attended by Ministers, Vice Chancellors, Permanent Secretaries and senior leaders and government officials from over 15 countries from across Africa who were part of the two day meeting to deliberate on required actions to improve the higher education sector.

In her remarks, the RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) commended His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika for accepting to Champion the cause of Higher Education in Africa. “We as a Network of 55 Universities are behind you, Africa is behind you” she affirmed.

The meeting saw the signing of a communique by the ministers from 10 African countries which will be presented to an Africa-wide meeting of Ministers of Education, Science and Technology to be held 28-30 October 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Click here to download the full press release.

A new face/approach to Agricultural Training and Education


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Photo credits: Richter Kurt

By Victoria Mbiggide

The time to move away from the ordinary and the “it was, it is and forever shall be” is now. There is no better timing than now for re-evaluation among African agricultural education training structures. No one understands you better than you do….so the saying goes. How about identifying our own challenges, see how best to meet them, possible partners to bring on board and the necessary resources we need to tackle and address these challenges.

 

This will aid the planning process and bring focus while answering the “What” to be addressed “When” questions if tangible deliverable are to be realized. With such processes, we then expect practical development issues to appear on top when it comes to ranking and setting priority areas.

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From Invention to Innovation in African Agriculture


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Photo credit: ICRISAT / C. Wangar

By Catherine Mloza 

It was interesting to note that RUFORUM had a side session that addressed the issue of strengthening partnerships for research and higher education. By and by, it is  un-disputable that agriculture in Africa,greatly  depends on how successfully knowledge is generated, disseminated and applied. Traditional agricultural knowledge management systems models situate the role of knowledge generation (mainly technology development) in the domains of the university and research institutions. Extension, on the other hand, is entrusted with the role of knowledge dissemination, and farmers as end users of this knowledge. Continue reading