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.

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CONSULTANCY: Terms of Reference to Support the Development of a Book on Tertiary Agricultural Education in Africa


Background

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has witnessed significant expansion over the past five years. From its creation with 10 members, the Consortium now has a membership of 66 African universities with operations across 26 countries on the continent spanning Eastern, Central, Southern and Western Africa, with a vision ‘to create a vibrant agricultural sector linked to African universities which produce high performing graduates and high quality research responsive to the demands of Africa’s farmers for innovations and able to generate sustainable livelihoods and national economic development’. Programmatically, RUFORUM has also evolved to meet the demands of African universities and to ensure that services are aligned to the needs of members. In 2014, RUFORUM signed a cooperation agreement with the African Union to support the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA 2024) and more specifically, the STISA Pillar 1 on Poverty Eradication and food and nutrition security. The Pillar 1 of STISA is directly linked to the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A).

In 2015, RUFORUM launched its Strategic Business Plan for 2015-2020 highlighting important new innovations to strengthen business focus and enhance delivery of its mission. The Plan recognized the evolutionary nature of the agricultural higher education sector and called for greater understanding of the tertiary education sector, including a greater understanding by the network of the university sector in Africa including pipelines from the secondary, vocational and post-doctoral sector. The contextual underpinning for RUFORUM’s work also continues to evolve. New and emerging challenges such as youth unemployment and related agribusiness strategies, the energy crises, climate change, urbanization and globalization all require that higher education systems are realigned to enhance their responsiveness to clients and to ensure that graduates are appropriately skilled for deployment into research and development institutions across the continent.

In 2016, RUFORUM received a grant from the MasterCard Foundation. The overall objective of the Project entitled ‘Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development’ (or TAGDev) is to transform 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. The Project is expected to lead to economic growth and development and sustainable livelihoods in Africa. This project will contribute significantly to efforts aimed at escalating skilled human resources and capacity to meet the AU Agenda 2063 as well as other frameworks such as the STISA 2024, S3A and CAADP. The Program will extend the reach of the university into marginalized communities and provide transformative education that will develop the leaders and innovators to drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Africa. The TAgDev Program will undertake  four broad activities: 1) Pilot a new model of agricultural education at early adopter universities that connects tertiary agricultural education to rural communities, with an emphasis on smallholder farmers; 2) Strengthen agribusiness/entrepreneurship at two universities and selected TVET institutions; 3) Scale the new model for agricultural education to other agricultural universities and TVET institutions; and, 4) Increase collaboration and mutual learning among institutions and agencies implementing and influencing innovative Tertiary Agricultural Education for rural transformation in Africa.

Rationale

Within the RUFORUM constituency, there is clear recognition of the need for greater analysis, understanding and reflection of the tertiary education space to guide development and optimization of strategies required to achieve RUFORUM vision and mission, including informing its business plan. Trends at the global level, and indeed continental and national levels continue to evolve and yet analyses are usually inadequate. A few recent publications have been particularly useful to provide important information on the agricultural and higher education sectors. For example, the recent book on “Agricultural research in Africa: Investing in future harvests” which was published by the International Food Policy Research Institute through its Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators Program provided important information on ‘key strategies to address current limitations and inefficiencies in agricultural R&D financing, human resources, organization and management, and systems-level structuring for continued growth’. The focus was broadly on the agriculture and innovation with a chapter dedicated to capacity building efforts in Africa. An earlier book sponsored by the World Bank on ‘Cultivating Knowledge and Skills to Grow African Agriculture: A Synthesis of an Institutional, Regional, and International Review’ provided analysis on the need for skills in growing agriculture in Africa.

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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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Apply Now: Terms of Reference to undertake a Scoping Study on Technical and Vocational Education and training (TVET) in selected African countries


Deadline Extension: 16 February, 2017 

Background

The overall outlook for Africa’s development has improved, largely due to recent growth as recorded in GDP growth (average over 4% per annum across the continent) over the last decade. A recent report by Mckinsey and Company[1] (2014) highlighted that Africa’s collective GDP in 2008 was 1.6 trillion, roughly equal to Brazil or Russia’s. The report provides further evidence of Africa’s growing business environment, with at least 20 African companies with revenues of at least US$ three billion and a fast growing ICT sector, with 316 million new mobile subscribers[2]. The British Council reported ‘five of the world’s top ten countries in GDP growth are in the region, with foreign direct investment up, inflation slowed and remittances at record levels[3]’. As such, Africa is currently facing a number of emerging challenges that might also be seen as opportunities, including a rising middle class, rapid urbanization, strong ICT growth and a high proportion of youth.

Despite this growth, agricultural production and productivity remains low and focuses on subsistence. Agriculture is implemented primarily by smallholder rural farmers, who continue to face traditional challenges of rain-fed agriculture, poor postharvest management, low value addition and low productivity.  Efforts to strengthen on and off farm agricultural production and value addition requires a cadre of skilled workers and facilitators to support access to available knowledge for enhancing production and marketing. While universities have been a strong focus of many programs that support the building of skills to support the provision of agricultural advisory services in Africa, less focus has been provided to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)[4] institutions along the educational value chain, which have the capacity to scale knowledge generation, access and use. The university sector in Africa has grown from just under 70,000 students in the late 1970’s to over six million in 2012. Universities are mushrooming all over the continent, yet demand continues to grow. However, growth has been at the expense of TVET institutions in Africa. This is because many new universities have been created by the transformation of TVET institutions, by making use of their existing infrastructure. Equally, budget allocation to the university sector has continued to grow, in most countries it has decreased for TVET institutions. Nonetheless, TVET institutions have an important role to play in putting in place the necessary skills, at scale, to support farmers and other stakeholders in driving production and development.

Introduction to the assignment

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Gulu University and Egerton University in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation (MCF) are implementing a project “Transforming African agricultural universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev)”. The TAGDev project seeks to strengthen the capacity of universities and facilitate the training of dynamic and proactive graduate leaders and entrepreneurs that can better respond to developmental challenges through enhanced application of science, technology, business and innovation for rural agricultural transformation. The project will contribute significantly to efforts aimed at escalating skilled human resources and capacity to meet the AU Agenda 2063 as well as other frameworks on the continent. RUFORUM, through the TAGDev Program, will undertake four broad activities:

  • Piloting a new model of agricultural education at early adopter universities that connects tertiary agricultural education to rural communities, with an emphasis on smallholder farmers;
  • Strengthening agribusiness/entrepreneurship at two universities and selected TVET institutions;
  • Scaling the new model for agricultural education to other agricultural universities and TVET institutions; and,
  • Increasing collaboration and mutual learning among institutions and agencies implementing and influencing innovative Tertiary Agricultural Education for rural transformation in Africa.

Through this project, the delivery of transformative services to ensure production of entrepreneurial graduates with leadership skills and potential to create impact in the rural communities will be supported. One of the sub-components of this project relates to integration of TVET into the Community Action Research Program (CARP) as a mechanism to enhance educational value chain and linkages between universities and TVET institutions as well as increase the impact and contribution of higher education institutions to rural development and transformation. As can be seen, Objective 2, 3 and 4 require that the Project clarify how the engagement between the universities who are the key implementers, with RUFORUM coordination, will work to engage with TVET institutions initially in Kenya and Uganda, but later across the continent. Thus, RUFORUM is commissioning a scoping study to provide an underpinning for the work to be undertaken and provide a clear and coherent mechanism for university engagement in TVET and with TVET institutions.

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