Creating change agents through student-community engagement


Increasingly universities are under pressure to provide evidence of their contribution to society. This requires them to develop new models of engaging at various levels. In doing so, universities have to transition from merely teaching and research to include direct relations with society. University outreach has evolved and taken various forms to make university knowledge and expertise available to end users. While some universities have stuck to the traditional model of outreach focused on dissemination of research results others have gone a step further to embedding community interaction in their curricula. One such university is EARTH University in Costa Rica which has adopted a model named the Community Engagement Model.

Recently, RUFORUM hosted Prof Elmer Cantarero from EARTH University, together with two of his former students from Uganda, to share their experiences in community engagement. Prof Cantarero had just returned from a visit to Gulu and Egerton Universities to review how the two universities currently engage with communities and which practices will be incorporated in implementation of the TAGDev Programme (Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development). TAGDev is an 8-year partnership between the two universities, The MasterCard Foundation and RUFORUM.

Collaborating to create community change agents: RUFORUM staff and the EARTH University team after their meeting to discuss community engagement

According to Prof. Cantarero, university engagement with communities is important to help them support development across sectors and therefore add value to society. Community engagement, in particular, provides an opportunity to deliver social value to communities.

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The MasterCard Foundation supported TAGDev Project Website launched


tagdev

In June 2016, the MasterCard Foundation signed agreement with the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) to strengthen efforts to connect university education to the needs of rural communities. The eight year project “Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev)” is being implemented by RUFORUM and its member universities, with focus on Gulu University in Uganda and Egerton University in Kenya.

The TAGDev website will provide a portal for sharing updates on the Project, including the activities of the students who will be supported. The website hopes to demonstrate impact stories of community transformation. The website can be accessed at http://www.ruforum.org/MCF/. To keep updated with the latest discussions from this initiative, please follow the #TAGDev online discussions on social media. Click here to download the full press release.

Useful links:

Apply Now: The MasterCard Foundation at RUFORUM Scholarship Award 2017/2018


mcf

Background: The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, Gulu University and Egerton University are implementing an eight year program aimed at transforming African agricultural universities and their graduates to better respond to developmental challenges through enhanced application of science, technology, business and innovation for rural agricultural transformation. This is eight year program (2016-2024) and will be supporting students that are economically disadvantaged, those from post-conflict and conflict affected areas of Africa. Interested applicants will undertake their training at Gulu University and Egerton University.

Eligible Programmes: The RUFORUM Technical Committee (RTC) has identified the following priority programs for the academic year 2017/2018 as eligible for application and to be supported.
Gulu University
1. Bachelor of Science in Agri-Entrepreneurship and Communication
Management
2. Bachelor of Science in Food and Agribusiness
3. Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition
4. Master of Science in Agri-Enterprises Development
Egerton University
1. Bachelor of Science in Agriculture
2. Bachelor of Science in Animal Science
3. Master of Science in Community Studies and Extension
4. Master of Science in Agri-Enterprise Development

Who is Eligible to apply:
This scholarship opportunity is open to African students of all race, colour, dissent and who in particular are economically disadvantaged and those coming from conflict and post-conflict areas of Africa. The applicant has to be in position to qualify for admission into undergraduate and/or postgraduate programs at Gulu University and/or Egerton University as listed above. Students already having a scholarship of any kind are not eligible to benefit this scholarship opportunity anyone with a double scholarship if found will automatically be discontinued. Read more

Attention: No payment for application forms prior to submission is required.

Important downloads:

  1. RUFORUM Announcement
  2. RUFORUM Application form
  3. Egerton University Announcement
  4. Egerton University Masters Application form
  5. Egerton University Undergraduate form
  6. Gulu University Announcement
  7. Gulu University Masters Application form
  8. Gulu University Undergraduate Application form

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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