The MasterCard Foundation supported TAGDev Project Website launched


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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


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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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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