The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) trained thirty three (33) faculty from twenty two (22) universities in thirteen (13) countries in Africa and Europe in transformative training and research programmes development and projects management. The training with the objective of enhancing university faculty skills to develop and manage university and community transforming programmes and projects was conducted at Bingu International Conference Centre, Lilongwe, Malawi between 21st and 25th October 2017. The University lecturers were equipped with skills to develop and manage programmes and projects for training entrepreneurial and innovative graduates can start and sustain businesses, and with skills and competencies required by the employers. The training also addressed the skills gaps in faculty to develop and manage research for development projects aimed at addressing the needs of rural people who dominate the African continent.
This training is part of RUFORUM’s effort of catalysing transformation in African universities to be relevant to Africa’s development through producing innovative and entrepreneurial graduates, and research that addresses societal challenges and continent’s economic needs. The training also addresses the need to skill faculty to mobilise resources from sources other than Governments to advance the functions of the 21st century University expected to be relevant to development process amidst dwindling financial support from African Governments.
The training adopted a practical approach of learning by doing. The participants were engaged to develop and review proposals for submission to the upcoming Intra Africa Mobility Call for proposals funded by the European Commission.
Participants were faculty from diverse disciplines including Education Management and Curriculum Development, Agriculture, Agribusiness and Food Systems, Food Technology and Nutrition, Information and Communication Technology, Engineering, Climate Change Adaptation and Environmental Management, Applied Statistics and Science Communication. Eleven project proposals were developed with each having at least four (4) partners from at least three regions of the African continent to train Masters and PhD students in the disciplines listed.
The training was well received by the participants as it provided an opportunity for faculty from across the continent in various fields to form partnerships for collaborative training and research. All participants expressed gratitude for the skills gained and the networks formed while others expressed that they met colleagues who will support them as external examiners for Masters and PhD students. “It was great learning experience and of-course, networking was good too. I left with more new friends. Success in all colleagues and let us keep the banner of hope alive” said one of the participants. Another participant expressed that “even if we don’t win we have gained skills in developing projects which we shall apply in other calls for proposals”.
The European partners equally expressed gratitude for participation in the training. “I would also like to express my gratitude to RUFORUM and its staff for the organization of the write-shop. It was very interesting and important for our project designing process” said one of the participants from Europe. “Thank you once again for this chance of meeting and making new friends and sharing experience. I do believe we all have learnt a lot and next round of applications will be a success”, said the other participant.
Recognising the value of these trainings and spill-over benefits, RUFORUM will continue to provide these trainings across the network, nurture the partnerships formed and support the finalisation and implementation of the projects under development. The trainings also offer an opportunity to scale out RUFORUM’s curriculum reform, practical training approaches, community engagement and outreach through partnership with private sector, non-research institutions and community action research piloted in some member universities.
Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Poland, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia