On the 21-22 July 2021, Egerton University in partnership with the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), through Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s Growth and Development (TAGDev) program funded by the Mastercard Foundation hosted a virtual National Forum dialogue. This was the fourth National Forum convening for Agricultural and Higher Education stakeholders. This year’s convening was hosted under the theme “Food Systems and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development”. The dialogue focused on unravelling issues affecting Kenya’s food systems, share lessons and experiences from interventions for strengthening food systems and enabling youth’s active and sustainable participation in the food systems. It also tackled the role of universities and research institutions in facilitating vibrant food systems development. Hon. Betty C. Maina, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development was the Chief Guest in this year’s National Forum dialogue.
This fourth National Forum convening attracted 360 participants from within Kenya and outside Kenya. In particular, participation was drawn from various universities and institutions including; Peace University (Sudan), Haramaya University (Ethiopia), Egerton University, University of Nairobi, University of Eldoret, Karatina University, South Eastern Kenya University, Laikipia University, Jaramogi Oginga Ondinga University of Science and Technology, Masinde Muliro Univesity of Science and Technology, Kabarak University (Kenya), University of Namibia (Namibia), University of Rwanda (Rwanda), Makerere University, Gulu University (Uganda), University of Bonn (Germany), and Mulungushi University (Zambia). Four TVET institutions within Kenya participated; Baraka Agricultural College, Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology, Nyandarua National Polytechnic, and Shamberere Technical Training Institute. Other partner institutions were represented by their respective heads of institutions and/or their delegated representatives including: Ms. Lucy Njeya who represented Ms. Ann Nyaga, the Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Cooperation, Ms. Carole Karuga CEO, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Dr. David Mulama Amudavi, Executive Director, Biovision Africa Trust, Dr. Immaculate Maina, CEC Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Nakuru County Governent, Dr. Victoria Tarus, County Officer for Livestock Uasin Gishu County, Dr. Wario Sari Sake, County Officer for Livestock, Dr Oliver Kirui, University of Bonn, Dr. Lucy Muchoki, PAAAC, and Dr. Michael Hauser, ICRISAT.
Dr Anthony Egeru, the Programme Manager, Training and Community Development at the RUFORUM Secretariat, recognized the importance of the food systems in providing opportunities for engaging a wide spectrum of youth. He noted that universities have a big challenge to transition from providing basic theoretical education to engaging vigorously in research and innovation, involve students with industry to shape the course of employment creation. He challenge the universities to rethink their promotion criteria to in particular consider components of community and industry engagement if these have to be taken seriously within the university systems. He called on universities to in particular consider these as important transformative actions and therefore plan and budget for them within their institutional processes. The TAGDev program strives to strengthen these within Egerton University and Gulu University that are primary implementing universities.
Prof Isaak Kibwage, Acting Vice Chancellor of Egerton University appreciated the Mastercard Foundation, RUFORUM and the World Bank for supporting research and human capital development in Kenya. He Press Release
noted that, over 100 projects are running at Egerton University generating more than Kenyan Shillings 3 billion. He also indicated that in order to increase agricultural productivity, universities should focus attention generate new technologies that can reduce post-harvest food losses and as well as support commercialization of both the agricultural produce and technologies themselves.
Hon. Betty C. Maina, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development in her address noted that the Ministry is carrying out international Intellectual Property Right awareness and protecting indigenous knowledge to encourage technological development. She called on the universities researchers to flexible in engagements, focused on patenting, and further partner with industry to create practical greater opportunities for the students. She also called on universities to increase community engagement as a mechanism to increasing agricultural productivity. The Cabinet Secretary also urged the universities to widen their scope of partnership with private sector to focus on addressing various aspects within the agricultural value chains. She noted that her Ministry is committed to work with the academia to train job creators for Kenya and beyond.
The dialogue noted that Kenya’s food system is a combination of traditional and modern food dynamics, with the former being dominant over the latter. Food distribution in the country is mostly informal, but modern trends are rapidly making inroads, evident in the increasing market share of supermarkets and cold chains, rising overweight and obesity, the intensification of agriculture and food production through improved varieties, and the strengthening of agri-exports that meet stringent private and public quality standards within global value chains.
Despite technological advancement in the production and distribution of food, hunger and malnutrition still affect millions of people in Kenya the dialogue noted. Further, Kenya’s food system remains with a number of challenges including persistent low agricultural productivity, food nutritional insecurity, climate changes, poor and unsustainable livelihoods, information and knowledge deficiency, low human capacity for management and adaptation to vagaries of nature.
However, attracting youth into agriculture remains one of the important undertakings that is required in Kenya in the current times. This is particularly important as there need for replacement stock of persons engaged in agriculture but youth also have an added advantage of deploying newer skills into the agricultural sector as well as across the food systems. Doing so requires;
. ensuring that the youth have access to factors of production such as land, credit, insurance and skills in agriculture;
. provision of mechanism to reintroduce agriculture in the Kenyan primary school curriculum;
. supporting the youth to access markets and marketing infrastructure; and
. lobbying for strengthening of existing capacity on career choice to ensure that youth develop a positive perception towards agriculture as a vocation; support development of institutional and legal framework for youth in agriculture
The National Forum dialogue noted with concern that business as usual was not option for Kenya’s food systems development and there is need to;
i. increase investment in generation and provision of technical knowledge in system management, pests and diseases control, soil fertility management, management of different crops and livestock, etc. to support nutrition-sensitive value chains;
ii. development of strong knowledge management and application driven by science, technology and innovations;
iii. embrace political economy incentive structure that promotes diversification and long-term planning to sustainable production and consumption of various foods to address “food system-bias” in favor of some staples and export-oriented interests;
iv. undertake institutional improvements to market systems including trust and traceability systems, food safety issues through regulations, increased consumer awareness and education, among others;
v. build synergies and trade-offs across farming systems and value chains using comprehensive tools that respond to the political economy of the country and region;
vi. promote multi-stakeholder national platforms for dialogues to ensure integrated, participatory, rights-based approaches to governance and policy making to address the structural inequities and power imbalances ingrained in the food systems; and
vii. ensure institutional and policy support for national programmes and actions.
- Inside Higher Eds
Doctoral Training Should Meet the Equity Moment (Global)
Inequity is on everyone’s lips. The disproportionate toll on people of color during the pandemic from both COVID-19 and police violence brought into laser-sharp focus the unjust obstacles many people face in our society. This moment has elevated the language and concepts of critical social theories to the status of everyday conversations, public conflicts and policy backlashes. It has also elevated ending racial injustice and achieving equity as stated goals of many universities, nonprofits, corporations, neighborhood initiatives and even the federal government. In many professions, the world of post-pandemic work will be deeply shaped by the equity enterprise for, at the very least, the three to seven years of the Biden-Harris administration yet to come. But how can an equitable and just society, sector, organization or even initiative be achieved? What does equity look like in practice? These are the questions currently occupying center stage in Zoom meetings all around the country. While the social sciences and humanities (SSH) helped create the theoretical groundswell that mainstreamed inequity as a problem, they must now contribute to solutions. SSH scholars should do so not just through producing more social theory but also by readying the next crop of SSH Ph.D.s to lead the social-change charge. We need an SSH workforce that can move from asking what has gone wrong to asking what it can do about it and how it can do that well. This crucial contribution should start with doctoral training that meets the current historic moment. In turn, that training and its accompanying reorientation of post-Ph.D. career purpose and prospects can help turn the tide on the mental health crisis of our doctoral SSH workforce. In their theoretical training, graduates of SSH doctoral programs are well equipped to transition to applied equity-related work. Clearly articulating and defining complex concepts is the bread and butter of the social sciences and humanities; words are our trade. As such, many SSH Ph.D.s bring a well-honed skill of challenging conceptual assumptions, being fastidious about the definitions of words under use and considering concepts in their historical trajectories. These abilities are vital to an important step on the road of change in organizational policies and everyday practices: to clearly define and operationalize critical concepts. What does it mean to have antiracist government policies? How can business research teams think about equity in social data collection and analysis? How do you train managers and supervisors to act with cultural humility toward a diverse workforce? SSH Ph.D.s are well placed to help answer these types of questions. While current theoretical training in SSH doctoral programs translates well into addressing conceptual challenges facing equity-oriented groups, many SSH students graduate inadequately equipped with the practical skills they need to contribute to this work. Most SSH programs still prepare doctoral students primarily for professoriate paths, where they would research and teach as tenure-track and eventually tenured academics. Such positions differ from other career paths in the types and sizes of collaborations they entail, the kinds of questions they ask and for what purpose, and the type and style of writing they produce and for whom.
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University Don urges youth to enroll in TVETs to self-reliant (Kenya)
Gaitho says TVETs offer a wide range of opportunities for the youth to be self-reliant once they complete their studies. “Supporting the youth to gain relevant skills is the only way to address unemployment and enhance entrepreneurship. We must be deliberate in creating these opportunities,” he added. His sentiments were echoed by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Foundation, chairman Eng. Patrick Obath who called on the private sector to be at the centre stage in assisting the youth and the TVET sub-sector in general. “Without a doubt the collaboration between the institutions and the industry in general will play a significant role in transforming Kenya into an industrialized, middle-income Country providing a high-quality life to all its citizens,” he said. Obath also shared insights on the need to diversify secondary and higher education streams to create equity by investing more in education that guarantees equal outcomes saying the private sector should support growth of value chains for small businesses through outsourcing and providing professional services. The two spoke during a recent virtual meeting held to celebrate this year’s World Youth Skills Day hosted by Egerton University with Gaitho urging the youth to be more aggressive in acquiring additional skills saying it will give them a head start in the job market. Technical Services, and Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) director Stanley Maindi said there is a huge mismatch between what academia is producing and what the labour market requires. “We have continued to have a shortage of relevant skilled manpower to power our economy. The existence of the authority is to ensure there is quality and relevance in what we are offering,” He noted. Davis Waithaka from Elimu holdings said the private sector can provide support by investing in the ICT infrastructure in partnership with government, providing affordable financing and education – through provision of the specifications required from the small businesses. “We need to have a structured engagement, both at the national and even at the county levels, so that we are able to continuously engage,” added Tom Mulati, Director of Technical Education, and Ministry of Education.
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- The Daily Star
‘We have to run our universities keeping up with 21st century’ (Global)
Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, a noted educationist, has served as the 27th vice chancellor of Dhaka University from 2009 till 2017. A mass communication expert, he was appointed chairman of the board of directors at Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS). The Daily Star recently spoke to him on the occasion of the birth centenary of DU where he discussed issues including decline of the university’s position in international rankings, politics, teachers’ appointment and role of university administration and his expectation. The main task of a university is to turn students into trained manpower with necessary human qualities. In this context, I think DU has played its role properly. At the same time, this university has gifted this country an independent flag. This is such a big achievement that DU cannot be judged on the basis of the generalised definition of a university. But it is also true that DU along with other universities of Bangladesh is lagging behind in different indicators of world rankings. Here, we should keep in mind the lack of adequate investment for the current state of education of the country. What should be done to improve the education quality? If we compare the allocation between the front ranking universities and our universities, we will be able to understand this matter. After the Bangabandhu government, we have seen that the autocratic and military government didn’t give due importance to the education sector, which has created a gap. Time has come to fill that void. We will have to run our universities in light of the demands of the 21st century. We will have to think if we are creating new departments in coordination with the advancement of the country’s industry. We will have to think whether we are giving practical education to our students. For this, it’s imperative to keep an internship system for students in collaboration with those who are involved with the sector. The time of only theoretical education is gone. The education at universities should be completed with both practical and theoretical education. One thing we should consider is that per head expenditure of Harvard or Princeton universities is far higher compared to our universities. Despite this, our students are doing well in the equivalent competition when they go to Harvard, Princeton or Yale. How should a modern and progressive university administration work?
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2. Mail and Guardian
Summit to explore redefining the future of education (Global)
The right kind of focused education is of fundamental importance in building the versatility, adaptability and creativity of new generations of leaders and workforce talent across the spectrum of industries and sectors globally. With the world of work changing rapidly through technological advancements and the emphasis on the fourth industrial revolution in recent years, education has moved with the currents globally. The latest challenge was brought along by Covid-19, which enforced widespread societal change. Some institutions adjusted well in shifting to learning online, as they had already been working on digital models before the pandemic. Others had to adapt as quickly as possible to the demand for digital education as their traditional business models buckled under the strain. The International Finance Corporation reported early this year that about 200-million students in higher education in 188 countries had been affected by campus closures since the start of the pandemic early last year. As tertiary education institutions expand their digital content and schools are forced to move from their classroom-based models to online teaching, there is a real risk of a growing digital divide. The Future of Education Summit 2021, to be held virtually on 29 July, will tackle this specific issue in education, explore the technologies that will lead change in digital learning, and discuss several other pressing issues. While basic education has to prepare learners for higher education, higher education institutions have to ensure that they prepare their students to be work ready and meet the needs of future employers. One of the panel discussions at the summit is Closing the Skills Gap & Building Capacity: The 21st Century. With current gaps in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem), there is a move especially in the more developed countries, to a curriculum that is almost exclusively focused on Stem. On the other hand, to cope in a rapidly changing world of work, learners and students will also need soft skills required by business. A McKinsey Global Institute Report indicates that a shortage of skills will push at least 14% of the global workforce away from their current employment by 2030. Then, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report states that by 2025 50% of the world’s employees will need reskilling because they will need to adapt to the new technologies that are being developed.
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- Times Higher Education
Pandemic silver lining: a catalyst for collaboration (Global)
It’s not all doom and gloom. While we must acknowledge the personal and professional challenges most of us have faced because of the pandemic, the academic community has highlighted some real positives. Some academics say Covid-19 has been a much-needed catalyst for change in higher education, and now’s the time to take stock of what we have learned and decide how we’re going to use this new information to make lasting, impactful change moving forward. For me, it’s the increased collaboration that has really made an impact. From conversations I’ve had with a wide range of colleagues at universities across the UK, working in partnership with other stakeholders in the learning design, development, and delivery process has been eye-opening and, in some cases, transformational organizationally. As a former students’ union president, I’ve always been an advocate of student partnership in the entire education system. Academic staff working collaboratively with students has brought about open and honest feedback, a mantra of continuous improvement, and transparency with students. It was this, in my opinion, that enabled faculty to say, “we made it through emergency online teaching, and it was a success”. Adopting a collaborative approach goes beyond academic practice. It’s about fundamentally understanding the pain points for students, developing deeper collective empathy, and providing the right level of support at the right time. I’ve heard more stories in the last 15 months of academics asking their students how they are doing beyond their studies than I have before. We’ve all become far more aware of our own welfare, and this is permeating our pedagogy. This is one thing I hope we hold onto and grow moving forward. At Talis, we’ve noticed the impact of increased collaboration between academics and students within our community of Talis Elevate users. Dr Helen Nichols from the University of Lincoln says: “The pandemic changed the tone of the way we engage with students and levelled the playing field. Using digital platforms can ‘de-ritualise’ a number of traditional processes in learning and contribute to the development of reciprocal communities of practice in new ways. “We’ve seen increases in engagement in learning activities from students who would be reluctant to contribute under face-to-face circumstances. For these students, digital learning tools have enabled them to find their voice through chat and whiteboard functions, which has supported the building of their confidence. “My lectures have become much more interactive as students feel they can ask questions and engage in discussions in a more fluid way in online spaces. This says a lot about the collaborative nature of the direction of flow for higher education because students have been embedded in every step of the process, from teaching and assessment design to engaging in continuous discussion and feedback to help us understand what best practice looks like. “It’s important to note, however, that digital learning tools should be seen as an enhancement, not a replacement, of face-to-face delivery.
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2. University World News
Walking the talk of diversity, equity and inclusion in HE (Global)
Where are we when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) for all individuals? What can institutions of higher education – and their leaders – do on a daily basis to make a lasting difference? The DE&I movement is here to stay and is a crucial part of social dimensions aimed at combating systemic racism and is a standard in the business world. If you’re a business leader and have not seen the acronym DE&I or heard the words ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ or ‘diversity and inclusion’, you may want to getncaught up before major legal problems surface and-or major clients terminate their contracts with you. As a university, your DE&I efforts should be much more systemic than generic tickbox training and quotas. Many organisations, including public and private companies, non-profits and educational institutions, ‘talk the talk’ of DE&I through their mission and vision statements, organisational edicts, newsletters and other media communications. But are they aware of how to truly implement the values of DE&I in an organisation from a systemic perspective? One way of finding out is through examining how the organisation 1) seeks diversity of people, perceptions, experiences and thoughts; 2) treats every individual equitably, including when it comes to compensation, access to information, opportunity to learn and job advancement; and 3) provides an inclusive culture in which all individuals feel confident in having their ideas heard before decisions are made. Typically, the ways used to diversify organisations include quotas or increases in the number of individuals from traditionally under-represented groups in hiring and-or management. Those groups include under-represented minorities (URMs), such as African Americans, Latinx, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Also included are those representing other cultures (for instance, Asian cultures), women, those with disabilities and those from the LGBTQ+ community. Through the creation of diversity and inclusion officers, organisations can create the appearance of diversity in the quota game. One multi-billion dollar corporation created a chief diversity officer position on a salary of just over US$200,000 but with an annual budget of only US$100,000. Filling the position with a minority allowed the organisation to show higher diversity at the executive level, but an annual budget of US$100,000 is a joke. It places an individual in a role with very limited ability to make an impact. Could that be the intention? Box ticked! And what about leveraging diversity of experience and thought? How are they honoured in the workplace?
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On Eid Al Adha, wishing that your sacrifices are appreciated and your prayers are answered by the almighty. Have a blessed Eid Al Adha! May this Eid Al Adha bring peace, prosperity, and happiness to you, your family and Muslim community!
On 1st July, 2021, at State House in Lilongwe, Malawi, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the President of the Republic of Malawi hosted an African Heads of State Pre-UN Food Systems Summit Dialogue. The Summit Dialogue is part of Africa’s continental momentum towards the UN Food Systems Summit that will be hosted by the UN Secretary General in October 2021.
The event was attended by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, H.E. Carlos Agostinho do Rosário, Prime Minister of Mozambique, H.E. Gen. Malik Agar, Representative of The President of Sudan, Hon. Gerardine Mukeshimana, Representative of the President of Rwanda, and Hon. Gaston Dossouhoui, Representative of the President of Benin. In attendance were; Dr. Agnes Kalibata, United Nations Secretary General Special Envoy and President of Alliance for A Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), H.E. Qu Dongyu, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and Ms. Leila Mokaddem from the African Development Bank. The meeting was virtual and was telecasted live through the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, YouTube and 459 delegates from 47 countries joined through the zoom platform.
This Heads of State Pre- UN Food Systems Summit Dialogue mobilized the African voice to respond to the UN Secretary General’s call for collaborative action to generate bold new actions to deliver progress on all the 17 SDGs. The Heads of State Summit deliberated in part on four key focus outcomes of the 2021 UN Food Systems, among which:
- Generate significant action and measurable progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by identifying solutions and leaders, and issuing a call for action at all levels of the food system, including national and local governments, companies and citizens.
- Raise awareness and elevate public discussion about how reforming our food systems can help us all to achieve the SDGs by implementing reforms that are good for people and planet.
- Develop principles to guide governments and other stakeholders looking to leverage their food systems to support the SDGs. These principles will set an optimistic and encouraging vision in which food systems play a central role in building a fairer, more sustainable world. Principles of engagement
- Create a system of follow-up and review to ensure that the Summit’s outcomes continue to drive new actions and progress. This system will allow for the sharing of experiences, lessons and knowledge; it will also measure and analyse the Summit’s impact.
The Heads of State issued a Summit Declaration (see Link).
RUFORUM greatly appreciates the African Heads of State not only for participating in the Pre-UN Food Systems Summit 2021 Dialogue but for all the efforts towards attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa We Want.
Contacts: Name: Evaline Acan; Communications Assistant ; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Times Higher Education
Post-Covid university management will be an exercise in give and take (Global)
If leaders don’t proceed with openness and consideration towards nervous staff, it is students who will ultimately suffer, says Rachel Gallardo. As Covid vaccination rates increase and restrictions are lifted, many faculty and administrative staff are planning to return to campus – if they haven’t already. But to suggest that things will soon be “back to normal” would be to belittle the experience we have all been through over the past academic year. As a department head, I recognise that many faculty still do not want to be on campus because they fear Covid variants running rampant. For those faculty members in a high-risk category, such fears have particular merit. Another factor is the habit we’ve all been conditioned into of wearing a mask and isolating from others. We’ve become uncomfortable in the close proximity of other people – especially crowds. That feeling won’t be easily shaken off. Furthermore, I’ve spoken with US faculty who have admitted they are vaccinated but still wear their mask because they don’t want to be perceived as a “Trump supporter”. The politicisation of masks is a result of the 2020 election season, from which many have still not healed. Many human resources departments are rushing to write policies for their organisation post-Covid. But they need to be careful. Telling faculty that they have to be on campus a certain number of hours a day, even if they don’t have classes that day, will not be well received. If a faculty member is teaching their classes, responding to student issues and grading in a timely manner, I would question how HR can reasonably demand that department heads like me force our faculty to be on campus full time. Indeed, how can senior leaders expect me to be on campus five days a week, either, when I’ve satisfactorily performed my work duties entirely from home for more than a year? Formulating and enforcing new, post-Covid expectations will require all levels of management to walk a fine line. Sadly, many of us are not prepared for the required shift in mindset. The concept of situational leadership is worth reflecting on. While the model, developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in the 1960s, acknowledges that there is no perfect leadership style, it urges leaders to strike a balance between task and relationship roles. With each situation that emerges, they should assess whether it is an opportunity to complete a task or an opportunity to enhance a relationship. Too many times, leaders are quick to jump in and resolve a problem without first asking if their help is desired. For example, if an instructor is venting about a student in their classroom who is sending rude emails or doing something else to get under their skin, asking a simple question: “How can I help?” can go a long way. The faculty member may reply that they don’t want you to do anything; they only wanted you to listen.
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- University World New
Adaptability is set to be the key skill for the future (Global)
Higher education has long faced pressure to enhance graduate competencies for a fast-changing world of work, and this has only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Skills for the Future (S4F) project, coordinated by the Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies (CIPES), has investigated and narrowed down a set of transversal competencies which are critical in preparing students for the future of work. One skill underlines them all: adaptability. Although the benefits of cultivating career adaptability have been discussed in career development literature since the 1980s, central tenets of the theory have only recently made the links between the shared future(s) of higher education, work and graduate skills development. Core to future skills is a foundation of adaptable self-reliance. As Ulf-Daniel Ehlers said in Future Skills: “So-called self-competences such as … self-directed learning enable individuals to productively perform the necessary adaptation processes in highly emergent contexts.” These self dependent skillsets are indispensable in an ever-increasing gig economy. In a 2018 paper, Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger found that alternative work arrangements, defined as contract and freelance work, accounted for most job growth in the United States between 1995-2015. As economies adapt and labour markets are in flux, focusing the curriculum on transferable skills can produce what Patrick O’Donnell et al describe as “adaptable capacities within graduates”. Some universities have taken note – the Tokyo
Institute of Technology offers doctoral students a course on the topic of developing career adaptability for global competitiveness. The responsibility to prepare graduates is often placed on institutions of higher learning. Universities reactively update their curricula, slash programmes or change offerings at an alarming pace to keep up with changes in industry and the world of work. This approach may be unsustainable, considering the rapid turnover of in-demand technology skills. Instead of blindly following whirlwinds of tech trends, preliminary results from the S4F project indicate that higher education institutions should base foundational curricula on preparing ready-to-learn, adaptable graduates. Technology skills – including trendy ones – will be part of the mix, but not the foundation upon which programmes are built. Programmes with a base of developing transferable transversal skills will succeed in graduating students capable of navigating uncharted and constantly evolving (employment) territory. The future graduate must be an adaptable graduate. Sustainable employability preparation must be lifelong, life-wide and set against the background of a post-pandemic world characterized by change and uncertainty. As Sandra Santos et al from the S4F project point out, developing transversal competencies with this goal in mind would “allow students to effectively cope with the rapid pace of change and obsolescence of knowledge and skills; question the consequences of change and ethically analyse science findings and technology innovations; live in the digital era; and be conscious of the perils of growing inequalities and environmental damages”.
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Maina Waruru 06 July 2021
A group of African heads of state have committed to working closely with African universities in the quest to end hunger on the continent. They undertook to support the institutions in their mission to train the personnel needed to drive African agriculture and to invest in the scientific research needed to thrive.
The presidents also pledged to increase investment in universities and the entire education value chain, and to equip Africa’s youth with the skills needed, not only for employment, but also for improving the continent’s food situation.
“We commit to invest strongly in the education value chain across universities and vocational colleges, to leverage secondary and primary education, to upgrade the skill levels of young people entering the labour force,” the leaders said in a declaration issued in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The leaders attended a virtual discussion on 2 July on university policy for strengthening resilient agri-food systems in Africa as a forerunner to a United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) dialogue later in 2021.
The discussion was chaired by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera and attended by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, among other senior officials representing their various governments.
In particular, the presidents pledged to help operationalise the Strengthening Higher Agricultural Education in Africa (SHAEA) initiative, the Strengthening Africa’s Science Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Capacity for Agricultural and Economic Development, and the Building Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation Capacity.
“We commit to work collaboratively with African universities and other actors, in and outside Africa, to marshal the needed capacity to strengthen Africa’s food systems and to scale up best practices, including […] increased value addition and [a] reduction in high post-harvest losses,” the presidents said in the declaration.
For Africa to realise its full agricultural potential, significant investments would have to be made in key “productivity-enhancing areas”, the leaders said. They reiterated their commitment to the African Union’s Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024), a document meant to entrench science, technology and innovation (STI) in the continent’s development processes.
Calling the diaspora
Chakwera said that, for Africa to attain food security and bolster its food systems, it would need to “strengthen connectivity” between education and policymakers. This should be followed by support for the widening of the human-capital base and research capacity in universities and other institutions.
Africa is ready to welcome all its academics and scholars living and working in the diaspora to bring their knowledge and expertise to the continent and contribute to its growth, Chakwera said.
The host of the meeting, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), and other organisations should devise a way of tapping into the expertise held by the African diaspora community, Chakwera suggested.
“Africa welcomes ideas from its diaspora all over the world. We need to better the best of what we already have.”
Leila Mokaddem, the director general of the African Development Bank’s Southern Africa region, told attendees the continent could achieve agro-industrial transformation through investment in science and research.
This would not be possible, however, if the continent continues to neglect the STI sector by inadequate funding for research and development. The current continental allocation stood at an average of 0.4% of GDP, against the recommended average at least 1% of GDP and the global average of 1.7%, she observed.
According to Mokaddem, fewer than 34% of students at African universities are enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics technology (STEM) programmes. This does not augur well for agriculture-led growth.
On the positive side, she noted the African Development Bank’s partnership with the government of South Korea and RUFORUM to implement a project to improve the quality of higher education on the continent under the Sharing Innovations and Experiences from Korea for Higher Education Transformation in Africa project.
Universities hold the key
Lobin Lowe, Malawi’s minister for agriculture, said African governments acknowledged that universities were pivotal in the design and implementation of sustainable food systems in Africa.
They are instrumental in attaining the “holistic” human capital development required for building an agricultural workforce capable of running the sector, including everything from production, research, and innovations, to entrepreneurship, he said.
In addition, the “interface” between policymakers and African universities had created a “powerhouse” that could generate knowledge and overcome barriers to change in the agriculture sector.
“This interface has culminated in this African Heads of State Dialogue which is consolidating the individual governments’ dialogues to address actions necessary for resilient and sustainable food systems for development,” Lowe said.
He added: “It is the ministers’ and universities of Africa’s belief that the science and policy interface dialogue will play a decisive role in uniting divergent views to overcome regional and sectoral fragmentation.”
The UNFSS dialogue is, indeed, timely and necessary for defining the needed pathways to transform food systems in Africa, he said.
Professor Adipala Ekwamu, executive secretary of RUFORUM, said that, under the UNFSS process, there was consensus that STI should drive sustainable development in Africa.
Africa’s UNFSS process, which culminated at last week’s event, has confirmed that the continent cannot meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) or the Agenda 2063 targets without embracing STI, Ekwamu said.
“As universities, we are committed to review our processes and approach to teaching, research and community engagement to ensure that it directly responds to development needs, is context-specific, fit for purpose and meets the expectations and requirements of all constituents.”
The UNFSS is part of the decade of action to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Its summit will launch new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems, Ekwamu said.
The process brings together key players from the worlds of science, business, policy, health care, and academia, as well as farmers, indigenous people, youth organisations, consumer groups, environmental activists, and other key stakeholders.
On Thursday 1st July, 2021 Africa saw one of her youngest innovator and researcher, Professor Noble Banadda Ephraim succumb to Covid-19. Professor Banadda, an Agricultural & Biosystems engineer, researcher and academician will be remembered for his prodigious contribution in building capacity of young scientists, increasing investment in the area of Research and Innovation during his service at Makerere University.
His passion to increase knowledge and share best practices in the area of Food Processing Engineering, Waste Engineering and Renewable Energy will be greatly missed. RUFORUM will miss his focused attention to addressing the quality of food from production to consumption. His attention on food contamination associated with plastic bags wrapping during thermal processing, a practice common in Uganda was eye opening especially to urban and peri-urban residents. Prof. Banadda was equally committed to realizing the full value of agricultural production through conversion of biowaste into energy. These two research interventions received funding from the RUFORUM competitive grants scheme. He was also concerned with addressing the longstanding problems of drudgery in smallholder agriculture. This led to his MV Muliimi tractor innovation, a solar powered irrigation pump, building capacity for quality graduate training in Agricultural Engineering in African Universities, Improving resource-efficient processing techniques and new markets for surplus fruits and vegetables for rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa, among others.
This continental loss comes at a time when African universities are lobbying for government support to increase investment in the area of Science, Technology and Innovation through strategic engagements during the UN Food Systems Summit 2021. African universities over the years have been working with development partners to invest in critical areas that can accelerate productivity and development in the agricultural sector through building capacity of young scientists, creating opportunities for collaborative research and cross learning among universities in Africa and with other global actors.
Professor Banadda was the first African to receive the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Pius XI Award in 2018. At the age of 37, he was one of the youngest persons in the history of Makerere University to attain full professorship and was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Scientist at an Annual Meeting of New Champions in 2014. Professor Banadda was favorably cited with published research findings in over 240 peer-reviewed journal scientific publications. He (co)-supervised 12 PhD and 31 MSc students to completion. He was a gifted fund raiser in agricultural research, human capital development and innovation. He had recently been awarded the Oiliver Tambo Research Chair with an annual budget of US$250,000 and complementary funding of Euro 100,000 for the next 15 years to support graduate research in agricultural waste management and the training of 15 PhDs, 09 Post-Doctoral fellows and 27 MSc. Wageningen University & Research the Netherlands was in final stages of appointing him special professor.
The RUFORUM Network stands together with his family, the Makerere University fraternity as we celebrate a life well lived though taken too soon. A virtual Prayer and commemoration service of Professor Noble Ephriam Banadda was held today 02 July 2021 at 14:00 Kampala Time under the theme “Celebrating the life of Prof. Nobel Ephraim Banadda”. A link of the service is available at https://youtu.be/xGbMbWQHdBE.
- UCT News
Youth Month: What does decolonised African education look like? (South Africa)
Dr Tabane was moderating the second session of the recent youth-centred Africa Day symposium hosted by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the African Union, in collaboration with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and its Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance. “If we lose the education war, all our other efforts won’t mean anything.” “Do we have a peer-review mechanism for education? Because if we lose the education war, all our other efforts won’t mean anything … We will continue in bondage,” Tabane noted. Africa needs an urgent plan, he added, to “move things beyond the theoretical convergence that we often have at symposia of this nature”. The first respondent to Tabane’s challenge was #FeesMustFall activist Mcebo Dlamini, who said that this process had to begin with Africans “decolonising themselves first”. “We might have all these ideas of an Africa we want, but have we prepared the minds of our people? Because decolonisation seeks to speak to the mind, the attitude, the behaviour of black people.” “The biggest problem we have is that universities stand in Africa … but they are not speaking to African problems.” Colonial education systems had turned blacks into “sophisticated hobos”; servants and slaves, Dlamini said. “It is not producing people who are going to own industry and the means of production. It is an education that is turning a black man into a white person. It is an education that has made us mimic Western tendencies. The biggest problem we have is that universities stand in Africa … but they are not speaking to African problems.” Colonialist education and the creation of an educated black elite are deepening divides on the continent, and not focusing on those living in poverty and facing African problems and diseases, such as Ebola. Neither did the system train Africans to be critical thinkers, Dlamini said. In her response, UCT Centre for African Studies lecturer Dr Thuto Thipe described the history of the centre being embedded in colonialism. It was created some 100 years ago to train British colonial officials to “run the empire” on African soil. A century later, her teaching centres on African political thought, and a master’s course titled “Problematising the study of Africa”. “We are reclaiming; we are taking hold; we are asserting our knowledge systems and our own histories in our education system.” “Africa is in motion,” she said. “We are reclaiming; we are taking hold; we are asserting our knowledge systems and our own histories in our education system and in imagining our present and our future.”
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2. University World News
Start-up ecosystems beckon opportunity for universities (Africa)
With an increase in the number of African countries included in the global top 100 start-up ecosystems, the continent’s universities should use this as an engine of job creation and economic growth, especially with the pandemic raging. The rise of tech start-up ecosystems across the African continent was highlighted in the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2021 report released on 17 June by StartupBlink, a global start-up ecosystem map and research centre. The Global Startup Ecosystem Index (GSEI) measures ecosystems based on three metrics, including the number of start-ups (quantity), their quality, and their business environment. Africa’s start-up ecosystem trajectory appears to be on the move. The 14 African countries in the global top 100 start-up ecosystems include South Africa (48), Kenya (61), Nigeria (63), Rwanda (69), Egypt (70), Mauritius (73), Ghana (81), Tunisia (82), Cape Verde (87), Somalia (94), Morocco (95), Uganda (97), Namibia (99), and Ethiopia (100). For the first time since this report has been published, an African country was included in the top 50, with South Africa increasing four spots, to be ranked 48th globally. Other notable increases in Africa are Egypt, which climbed 11 spots to rank 70th, and Nigeria, which leapt five spots to now rank 63rd globally. With its debut in the GSEI, Mauritius is now ranked in the 73rd position. Making the cut for the first time, Namibia is ranked 99th, and the vibrant seed ecosystem of Ethiopia 100th globally. Somalia, in 94th position, is another example of innovation flourishing under tough economic circumstances, prompting the GSEI report to say: “We were inspired to see how the public sector and local entrepreneurs have worked hard to foster high-quality innovations aimed at solving some of the country’s biggest problems.” And: “Very few would imagine that Somalia, with its challenging situation, could have such a growing and vibrant start-up ecosystem.” When looking at cities, Lagos in Nigeria now commands the top spot in Africa in 122nd position after switching places with Nairobi, Kenya, which now ranks 136th. Egypt’s Cairo has had a significant increase of 21 spots to rank 180th globally. While the Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Africa sub-regions are represented in the index, Central Africa still has no representation in the rankings. Four African countries, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda, also feature in the global coronavirus innovation map, which ranks countries based on innovations and solutions produced to combat the coronavirus. The positive performance by a number of countries could be enhanced by the launch, on 22 June, of Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation. The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), in partnership with South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University (SU), has launched the centre to upscale and commercialise home-grown innovations on the continent.
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- University World News
Countries spend less than 1% of GDP on research (Africa)
o country in Africa is spending 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development although, globally, spending on science and the number of scientists have been rising in the past five years, a trend that was pushed further by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNESCO. Launching UNESCO’s latest science report, The Race Against Time for Smarter Development, Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, called for more investment in science in the face of growing crises, in order to make science less unequal and more open to all communities. Today’s challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, a decline in ocean health and pandemics, are all global and that is why we must mobilise scientists and researchers from all over the world, said Azoulay on June 11. The issue is that, whereas spending on science worldwide increased by 19% between 2014 and 2018, China and the United States accounted for 63% of that hike. According to Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO’s assistant director general for natural sciences and also the director of the publication of the report, only 32 countries in the world raised their research spending by 0.1% or more of their country GDPs during that period. Low spending on scientific research was pervasive in Africa, as all countries on the continent were among the 80% of countries worldwide that invested less than 1% of GDP in scientific research. In this regard, Africa’s share of global expenditure on research and development remained constant at 1.01% between 2014 and 2018 but, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it dropped from 0.44% to 0.42%. Even then, on average, investment in research and development as a share of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa rose from 0.49% in 2014 to 0.51%, an insignificant increase of 0.02 percentage points. South Africa recorded the highest scientific research expenditure in Africa, after increasing its share from 0.77% in 2014 to 0.83% in 2018, while Egypt took second position by raising its share from 0.64% to 0.72% during the same period. UNESCO noted the pool of researchers per million inhabitants grew by 13.7% during the same period, an increase that was about three times faster than the global population growth of 4.6%. According to the report, this translated into 8,854 million full-time researchers, a surge that was highly dominated by China, whose researcher pool grew by 11.5% between 2014 and 2018. “On average, expenditure per researcher globally increased by 1.6%,” said Susan Schneegans, the editor-in-chief of the UNESCO science report series, during the launching of the latest report.
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- Times Higher Education
Universities overreacting to online cheating, experts warn (Global)
US universities overreacting to student cheating during the pandemic are demonstrating a problem that existed well before Covid and still needs to be addressed in its aftermath, experts have warned. The challenges have been put in stark relief by Dartmouth College, which accused 17 of its medical school students of cheating, allegedly deterred them from fighting back, then admitted it was mistaken all along. It was the latest in a series of cases, within the Ivy League and beyond, of institutions trying to catch cheaters during online testing by using software detection systems faulted for being unreliable and invasive of student privacy. Such problems were “widespread” and predated the near-universal online environment forced upon academia by the pandemic, said Cooper Quintin, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for civil liberties in digital environments. “More and more coursework is going online these days, and I don’t expect that this fact will change once Covid abates,” Mr. Quintin said. In the Dartmouth case, the university believed it found cheating because records obtained from standard course management software known as Canvas suggested the students were looking at class material at the same time as they were taking tests. While the university weighed the repercussions, some students said, it took actions that limited their ability to defend themselves, including allowing only short time periods to respond, accompanied by suggestions the students admit guilt to lessen their penalties. But after Mr Quintin’s group and others pointed out the unreliability of using Canvas for identifying cheating, Dartmouth’s medical school dean, Duane Compton, agreed to drop all charges and apologised to the students. Data from a system such as Canvas can be useful to identify possible cheating, said Camilla Roberts, director of the Honor and Integrity System at Kansas State University. But such data – with details that include when a student started and stopped a test – must be used only as part of a broader investigation that seeks other available evidence, Dr Roberts said. Some lecturers are likely to stick with online testing after the pandemic, and it’s the responsibility of universities to teach them how to properly handle any suspicions, she said. Another expert on the topic, Kevin Pitts, professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, agreed that online testing would persist and that institutions must respond better.
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Masinde Muliro University Officially Registered as TVET Institute, to Enroll NYS Sponsored Students (Kenya)
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has officially been registered as a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institute. This makes the Kakamega-based university the first in Kenya to be certified as a Technical and Vocational College in accordance with the TVETA Act 2021 Section 20 (1). The learning institution was issued the registration certificate on Wednesday, June 2 by the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA). With the new registration, the learning institution will now operate under the name Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology TVET Institute. With the recognition, MMUST is now licensed to offer General Agriculture, Horticulture, Building Construction, Civil Engineering, Disaster Management, Security and Intelligence, Fitness Instruction and Recreation Management and Sports Coaching (Craft) Diploma courses According to the institution, as appeared on its official website, beginning September 2021, it will enrol its first set of four hundred and eighty (480) students with a maximum of sixty (60) students per course. “With this recognition, we can now admit students and receive capitation from the Ministry of Education. We believe that these students can transition from the Diploma level and attain a PhD in these courses,” said Vice-Chancellor Solomon Shibairo while receiving the registration certificate and training license. The Director, TVET, Samuel Waweru, said that the recognition is in harmony with the University’s Vision and Mission since MMUST is a science and technology institution. As a fully recognized TVET Institute, MMUST will offer Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET) programmes that lean towards skills development In another development, the institution signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Youth Service (NYS). The areas of strategic partnership between these two institutions include; linkage to the labour market, offering sports management course, complementary provision of infrastructure and human resource to facilitate training for the NYS trainees and TVET training in various disciplines. With this, MMUST will receive NYS sponsored students. The University is expecting the first batch of about five hundred (500) students in September 2021 after the required inspections have been conducted. In other news, MMUST resolved to close its Nairobi, Kisumu, Kapsabet and Mumias satellite campuses.
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- Times Higher Education
Be there or be square: the strange art of lecturing (Global)
Nine o’clock on a cold, dark, winter’s morning. You are trapped. Two hundred pairs of eyes are staring down intently at you from a height. Deep in the ancient reptile stem of the brain, angry voices shout at you: “Why are 200 people all staring at you from a height? Because they are going to kill you and eat you. Why else?” In almost 20 years of lecturing – at the universities of Southampton, Cardiff and Durham – they never did. And yet a nagging edge of this fear always remains for many lecturers, even when something alarmingly extraordinary becomes more ordinary over time. The sense that eyes are more of a problem than bodies was pinpointed nicely by a colleague of mine at Southampton. Her solution to lecturing nerves was simple: she took off the glasses she wore for distance vision. In the early days and
weeks of mastering this art, the theory of the carefully written lecture can easily melt under the fierce heat of all those curious eyes. For those who find this a problem, it is a problem of pressure, of too much presence, too much energy, compressed into one space for a brief time. Who would have guessed how many lecturers would miss all this during the long months of lockdown? Most lecturers would agree that if you were giving a lecture blindfold to a receptive audience in a theatre, you could still sense some degree of reaction and presence. But even the most scintillating public speaker is not going to sense anything if the students scattered across a virtual live lecture do not turn their microphones on. (Even software formats that give the raw numbers of those present do not guarantee that all of them are actually listening.) Like so many other things, lecturing has been drastically reshaped by the global pandemic. Yet this extreme enforced adaptation should also prompt us to reflect on just how strange lecturing is, even under ordinary conditions. Lecturers are implicitly distinguished by their title. There are tutors and teachers, but at the top of the pyramid there are lecturers. And in theory the prestige attaching to the title is hard-earned. No one else does this. Not actors, not rock stars, not politicians. You think and write and shape the content. You deliver it in one take, with no backing band, and with the only drug on offer (at least for me) being too much coffee. For much of your working week, your job necessitates spending too much time alone. For those few lecturing hours, you must stay above water as the fizzing waves of 100-200 teenagers’ attention beat down upon that fragile lectern. It is not an easy job. Small wonder so many people are unable to do it – including quite a lot of those who bear that distinguished title of lecturer. There are many ways to lecture well and many to lecture badly. So, is there one basic secret to success? I want to argue that there is. The lecture itself of course needs to be well written, properly structured, thought-provoking and timed for the slot. But those dozen sheets of paper are not the lecture. If there is one secret to successful delivery, it is probably this: be there.
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