University World News
Agricultural higher education project calls for proposals (Africa/RUFORUM)
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in collaboration with the governments of Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi and Mozambique and the World Bank have launched a call for proposals for a multimillion dollar higher education agriculture project intended to boost human resource capacity for the transformation of agriculture. The Strengthening Higher Agricultural Education in Africa (SHAEA) initiative, which kicks off in June 2019, aims to grow a pool of “competent and relevant” human resources to accelerate agri-food systems transformation. The project seeks to fill critical identified gaps in terms of knowledge and skills necessary for revitalising agriculture in the region, including in the fields of agribusiness and entrepreneurship, agri-food systems and nutrition, rural innovation and extension, risk management and climate change data, and policy analysis and management. Universities from the six African countries which meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in becoming a Regional Anchor University (RAU) are invited to submit applications in partnership with tertiary education institutions, including post-secondary agricultural vocational institutions and key agricultural sector actors, both public and private. RAUs will be picked through a competitive selection process and will provide agriculture and food related education and training, blended with cross-disciplinary approaches, including “experiential learning” and applied research. The project will also try to foster university linkages with the agricultural sector at regional and national levels, and forge university partnerships with private and public entities in the agriculture sector, both within and outside Africa. “The proposed SHAEA project will support the governments of the participating countries to collectively address challenges in these regional key gap areas, with interventions that include helping selected universities establish a strong culture of collaboration and partnership between higher education institutions, and other tertiary education institutions, with the agriculture sector”, according to an earlier statement. The selected RAUs will become regional hubs for innovation and training and are expected to instigate “real” development impact; and help develop a culture of results-orientation and accountability in institutional management, through a “results-based financing mechanism,” it added. An independent evaluation committee and the steering committee will be constituted to select universities that will act as RAUs. The project will be governed by a regional steering committee that will include representatives of governments from participating countries, and will be managed by a regional facilitation unit based at RUFORUM headquarters in Kampala, Uganda.
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2. University World News
Higher education’s key role in sustainable development (Global)
The United Nations defines sustainable development as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. As such, sustainable development not only deals with environmental issues, but economic, social and cultural issues as well. Given the increased demands placed on societies and the environment due to, among other factors, increased human migration, increased urbanisation and industrialisation as well as the
ongoing depletion of non-renewable resources, it is clear that global action is needed to create a more sustainable future. Given its primary role as knowledge producer, higher education can serve as a powerful means to help create a more sustainable future. Thus, the concept of ‘education for sustainable development’ has become, in recent years, one of the core educational initiatives to help address many of the problems associated with human development. Indeed, higher education’s role in creating a sustainable future will presumably take on a greater importance as the world continues to become increasingly globalised and interdependent. According to UNESCO, education for sustainable development “empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future”. It therefore involves making access to good-quality education available at every stage of life. More specifically, it involves educating students on the necessity of sustainable development by integrating sustainable development issues into all aspects of teaching, research and service. This means reorienting the education system at all levels to help people think and behave in ways that foster a more sustainable planet (for example, global citizenship, recycling, climate change, biodiversity, renewable energy and social responsibility). In practice, it means equipping students with the requisite knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to create a sustainable future. To that end, students should cultivate critical and creative thinking skills, engage in authentic interdisciplinary learning activities and develop a value system that emphasises responsibility to self, others and the planet. Thus, education for sustainable development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) go hand in hand. Indeed, an increasing number of universities are offering degree and certificate programmes in sustainable development.
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