[Issue 75] Media Monitoring: Extract of Press News on Higher Education in Africa


  1. University World News

Recalibrating the social ownership of our universities (Africa)

Are African universities part of the oppressive economic, political and social superstructure in the continent? Who owns those universities? Do they know their students? How do they treat them and relate to them? What do they teach them? What is the future of those universities? These were some of the questions posed by Professor Ahmed Bawa, the chief executive officer of Universities South Africa, a membership organisation representing South Africa’s 26 public universities, as he addressed delegates who joined the virtual University Social Responsibility Summit 2021 that took place from 3-5 February. In a presentation themed “Recalibrating the social ownership of our universities: Their role in rejuvenating South Africa’s social, political and economic condition”, Bawa argued that there was an urgent need to establish a philosophical framework on ownership of African universities as public goods. “We need 20- to 30-year planning horizons to establish policy coherence to give direction as to what the universities should do for the society as they are captured within our historical, political, economic and cultural narratives,” said Bawa. Drawing his insights from experience as the former vice-chancellor and principal of Durban University of Technology in South Africa, Bawa stated that, whereas universities were traditionally charged to develop professionals, intellectuals and other experts in complex economies, now they are in the midst of many challenges, while there is also a growing inequality between and within nations. “Extreme poverty, global warming, unchecked consumption, erosion of democracy, degradation of ethical society, escalation of political violence leading to massive migrations and rapid changes in the world of work are some of the local and global problems that societies expect universities to solve with credible solutions,” said Bawa. He also cited public health problems, new technology moments, emergence of anti-intellectualism and populism as other challenges that are confronting universities worldwide. But, according to Bawa, it will be hard for African universities to fulfil some of these societal expectations unless they are reimagined through their mandates, funding and encouragement to develop new relationships with their stakeholders. Citing the commonality of all universities globally, the fact that they admit students, Bawa argued that, for the sake of long-term sustainability, they would have to focus even more on their students. He highlighted the issue of struggling second- and third-generation African universities that were promoted into full-fledged universities from technical institutes or basic education training colleges but were never funded properly to execute their new mandate of providing quality higher education. In the South African situation, Bawa explained that some of the serious disruptions in higher education, due to student activism mainly at historically disadvantaged institutions, had to do with inadequate funding of education. “The subsequent near-paralysis of the system as a result of those disruptions focused attention on the perceived failure of the university education transformation agenda in the country,” said Bawa.

Read more here

  • Global Press Journal

Congolese Students Face Costly Delays Due to Shortage of Professors (DRC)

Jean Marie Tulume walked into his first day of class to discover one thing missing: the professor.

Thousands of university students face delays in schooling, due to a higher education boom in this provincial capital that has far outpaced the number of qualified teachers. “We traveled back and forth, believing that the professor would be there, but to no avail,” says Tulume, who waited more than three weeks to start class. The conundrum of too many schools and not enough instructors has upended higher education in the country’s third-largest city, leading to staff shortages, a decline in academic standards and a delayed future for aspiring graduates. Officials recently shut down schools amid concerns about the new coronavirus, potentially delaying students’ education even further. DRC has reported 148 cases of the virus and 16 deaths as of April 4, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. Tulume also faced school delays last year. “I have to put up with it,” he says. “I have no choice.” Higher education institutions in Kisangani are popping up like mushrooms. A decade ago, students could attend the city’s single university. Now they can choose from eight, six of which are private. About 300 professors are spread across the entire system, says Benoit Dhed’a Djailo, rector of the University of Kisangani — the main public university — and the city’s representative for the Ministry of Higher and University Education. Some schools can’t afford to pay traveling expenses for visiting professors, forcing them to wait until tenured professors have time to teach. Courses go unstaffed through much of the year. And students get stuck with quarterly tuition fees even if their professor doesn’t show up. Tuition fees vary annually, but public universities generally charge about $300 a year; private school costs roughly $500. Average income in DRC is less than $3 a day, according to a 2018 report by the national statistics office, making it difficult for many students to afford extending their education. DRC already is reeling from a decline in commodity prices, according to the International Monetary Fund, one of the world’s worst Ebola outbreaks and violent conflict between armed groups, which has displaced around 5 million people in the country’s northeast. This compounds the slow recovery from a brutal civil war in the 1990s. Last year marked the first-ever peaceful transition of presidential power.

Read more here

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Job Opportunity: Corporate Communication and Advocacy Officer at RUFORUM Secretariat


About RUFORUM

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM);-  www.ruforum.org   based at Makerere University, Kampala, has a job opportunity for the position of Corporate Communication and Advocacy Officer. The personnel shall report to the Executive Secretary.

RUFORUM operation is guided by its Vision 2030 Strategy (The African Universities’ Agenda for Agricultural Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation – AHESTI), which is being implemented through four Flagship Programmes Visit RUFORUM website for details. Prospective applicants are advised to review the RUFORUM Vision 2030 Strategy and the Five Year Operational Plan (2018-2022). The job roles and requirements of the post is detailed in the following pages.

Interested applicants should submit their applications electronically by 5pm on 16 March 2021 to:

The Executive Secretary
RUFORUM Secretariat, Plot 151/155 Garden Hill, Makerere University,P.O Box 16811, Wandegeya, Kampala, Uganda.
secretariat@ruforum.org

Applicants should quote the reference number in the subject and attach photocopies of all necessary academic support documents. Only short listed candidates will be contacted.

DETAILS OF JOB POSITIONS:

Job title: Corporate Communication & Advocacy Officer
Office/ Department/ Unit:  Office of the Executive Secretary
Reports to: Executive Secretary
REF: RUF/JOB/HR/IEO/03/21: CORPORATE COMMUNICATION & ADVOCACY OFFICER

The journey to my PhD programme begun with my involvement in the SENTINEL Project


My name is Petan Hamazakaza , a PhD student at Copperbelt University, Zambia. I consider life as a journey that is characterised by phases of ups and downs. Growing up in a rural setting where social standards are so low makes one not to appreciate how the other side of society in urban areas is. At a tender age of 15 years I happened to be the only pupil who made it to secondary school to pursue my secondary education at Namwianga Christian Secondary School under the support of the American Church of Christ. This was in the mid 1980s. Passing an examination in those years be it at primary, secondary or even tertiary level was considered a great break-through in life. Educational materials and other teaching aids where almost non-existent in the Zambian educational system.

Coming from a poor rural background financially coupled with exposure to pupils from well to do families in urban areas, did not draw me backwards academically. Instead, this served as a great source of inspiration to achieve excellency and study hard with a view of changing my life. Through consistency and hardwork, I was awarded the outstanding Mathematics student and overall best student at secondary school. In the 1980s, Zambia had only two Technical schools where the best and top 200 pupils at junior secondary level were selected and sent to continue with senior secondary school education. In 1986-1988, I was among that cream of pupils who were selected to Hillcrest Technical Secondary School and that marked the beginning of change in my academic life. I was focused and certain that university education was within reach. Surely, in 1990 I made it to University of Zambia where I pursued a Bachelors’ degree in Agricultural Economics. I went on to pursue a Masters degree in Rural Development and Livelihoods at Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands.

Mr. Hamakaza in a recent field visit to a farming community in Kabwe, Zambia

I later joined the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia in the late 1990s. In my professional career, I have been working under the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and attached to the Farming Systems and Social Sciences Division. ZARI is the largest agriculture research entity in Zambia and has over 10 research stations across the country. The institute’s overall objectives are to develop and adapt crop, soil and plant protection technologies and provide a high quality, appropriate and cost effective services to farmers. As a researcher, I coordinate a ZARI research station in Central Zambia and am based in Kabwe town. Currently, I am occupying the position of Principal Agriculture Research Officer. I have worked with renowned Universities, UN agencies and CGIAR institutions as a researcher and have made some publications that can be accessed online.Text Box: Mr. Hamakaza in a recent field visit to a farming community in Kabwe, Zambia

The journey to my PhD programme begun with my involvement in the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project reconnaissance survey in Zambia where I was contracted as a Research Assistant when I developed interest in SENTINEL research themes. Initially, the relationship between SENTINEL and myself as a researcher was contractual as I was recruited to collect data during the reconnaissance survey. However, after pre-survey training as well as several site visits, I developed a deeper understanding of the issues and expressed interest in undertaking a PhD research in the Agricultural Expansion thematic area of the SENTINEL project and I was admitted for PhD study at Copperbelt University, Zambia.  In my personal view, this indicates that inter-sectoral perspectives and evidence generated by the reconnaissance survey on the future of agriculture development can lead to greater awareness of trade-offs among researchers in the agriculture sector. As a researcher, have links in agriculture research which can influence policy. The link of my candidature as a PhD student to SENTINEL research topics means that my future work will contribute to generating evidence that could influence policy in Zambia. I did receive a research scholarship from SENTINEL through RUFORUM and I am looking forward to applying the findings from my study to support the agriculture sector in Zambia.

For more details, please contact Mr. Petan Hamazaka via email: hamazakazap@yahoo.com

My PhD research to tackle trade-offs in woodlot management in North-Western Ethiopia


My name is Solomon Mulu studying PhD in Forestry and Livelihood at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia.I am pleased to share my PhD research journey so far. When the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) announced a call for Doctorial Research Grants in February 2019, I immediately applied for the grant and was successful.  The funding for this grant is provided through the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project.    

My PhD Research topic is entitled “Woodlot management by smallholder farmers in the Highlands of North-western Ethiopia:  trade-offs and synergies in socio-economic and environmental benefits”. The overall objective of the study is to contribute to our understanding on knowledge, skill and strategy of smallholder farmers to manage woodlots and the impact of woodlot expansion on trade-offs and synergies on selected socio-economic and environmental benefits. The present study helps to understand the impacts, risks, and trade-offs, and synergies in land use management.

Solomon (1st on the Right) during the reconnaissance survey of farmers’ woodlots

 After getting approval of the research proposal from my supervisors and the Department, I was ready to go to field for data collection. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak in Ethiopia resulted into a lockdown that went on for six (6) consecutive months. This delayed me from accomplishing my fieldwork on time. During the lock down time, I tried to be engaged in literature review and learning statistical soft wares such as SPSS, STATA, and GIS, Remote sensing and attending the online trainings delivered by RUFORUM.

I have since re-started my fieldwork after the Government of Ethiopia lifted lockdown restrictions. I am using both Qualitative and Quantitative research methods for my socio-economic research objectives. I have carried out qualitative data collection using Key Informant Interviews and quantitative data collection through a household survey questionnaire.

I am also conducting land use classificationusing satellite image analysis. Under this approach, I collected waypoints for accuracy assessment, downloaded time series Landsat images and started image analysis. I will further conduct inventory of plantation forest resources as part of my research.  After finishing the above mentioned data collection, I will be preparing manuscripts and articles for publication in International reputable Journals. After publishing articles I will compile my PhD thesis and then disseminate my findings through publications and presenting results in different research conferences.

The SENTINEL Grant has provided me with more opportunities for networking and mentorship. For instance, I attended the Fifteenth RUFORUM Annual General Meeting held on 2-6 December 2019, Cape Coast, Ghana. I have also received mentorship trainings from RUFORUM, which have been relevant for my research work, particularly the qualitative and quantitative research methods; the image analysis and land use classification trainings.

For more details, please contact Mr. Solomon Mulu via email: solomon.mulu@wu.edu.et

[Issue 74] Media Monitoring: Extract of Press News on Higher Education in Africa

I want to contribute to Climate Change resilience in Sudan through my PhD research


My name is Maysoon Abdelhameid Abdelhai Osman studying PhD at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.I was born in the central part of Sudan, growing up with parents who believed in education as the best thing they can have in life for a bright future. After I graduated with BSc. (Honours) in Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Gezira (Sudan), I worked as a research assistant at the Agricultural Research Corporation in Sudan; I then joined University of Gezira as a part-time teaching assistant. These experiences exposed me to academia and hence I have developed an interest in furthering my studies. Thereafter, I obtained my Master’s Degree in Agrometeorology and Natural Risk Management from Haramaya University (Ethiopia), which offered me a chance to join the University of Gezira as a full-time lecture. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Climate Change and Adaptation at Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, University of Nairobi, Kenya, under RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) Programme, and the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project also managed by RUFORUM.

Maysoon Abdelhameid Abdelhai Osman studying PhD at the University of Nairobi, Kenya

I have completed my taught courses and have successfully defended my proposal to the faculty titled “Impact of Climate and Land Use / Land Cover Changes on Small Scale Farming System in Gedaref State, Sudan” My PhD is focusing on how climate variability and change, and Land Use / Land Cover changes affect crop yields in rainfed farming of Gedaref State, Sudan. The research also aimed to look at the perception of the smallholder farmers to climate change and the adaptation measures they used to minimize the risk. Generally, rainfed farming is the major economic activity in Sudan, and particularly in Gedaref state. Gedaref region is the important and biggest rainfed agricultural area in Sudan where the majority of the population practices traditional smallholder farming which their livelihoods rely on. However, in the last decades,  many farmers in this region have been exposed to different effects of climate change such as floods and droughts. Indeed, Gedaref area has experienced large-scale land degradation showed by loss of soil fertility, and reduction of vegetation coverage, among others. This has added more vulnerability to the negative effects of the climate variability and change on rainfed farming, coupled with land use and land cover (LULC) changes which mainly occur as the results of malpractices such as clearing of a considerable area of natural forest. Therefore, the combined effect of climate and Land use/ Land cover changes should be evaluated. Although some studies were carried out in Gedaref on climate change,  little attention was paid to climate change impacts on the smallholder sector.. Therefore, this study will provide much-needed information for decision-makers, extension officers, researchers, and planners to reduce the vulnerability of small scale farmers to climate and Land use/ Land cover changes. I will use a transdisciplinary methodology approach for this study, which helps to learn and solve the problem at the same time, through collaboration between different groups of academia and society.

Regarding my fieldwork, I managed to obtain secondary data for climatic and  crop yields for Gedaref state over the last thirty years. I have had some challenges to get these data, but with the help and the support  provided from my home university (University of Gezira), I overcame those challenges. After analysing the collected data I wrote the first manuscript which I am finalizing nowadays to share with my supervisors. At the same time, I am working on the Land use/ Land cover changes part of my research, which needs some experience in GIS and remote sensing methods. To solve this problem I  joined  the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) for an internship under Data Management, Modelling, and Geo-information Unit to build and booster my capacity on GIS and remote sensing analytical approaches. This chance will specifically help me to address my PhD thesis objective two which deals with advanced GIS and remote sensing methods. It also provided me with a good opportunity to interact with the scholars and staff in icipe in general and the unit in particular and use their expertise. Besides, I built strong relationships and networking with a lot of people from different countries.

I highly appreciate the trainings that have been organized by RUFORUM, I have really benefited from them especially, GIS, remote sensing and statistical training, and qualitative training. I would like to thank Sentinel Project for their support and effort to help whenever needed. I have received mentorship support from SENTINEL UK researchers during the concept note development stage. I was planning to complete my GIS and remote sensing training at icipe and then go back to Sudan for my fieldwork with the farmers but, due to COVID-19 pandemic, I could not manage, and I will need more time to complete the fieldwork.

For more details, please contact Ms. Maysoon Osman  via email: osmanmaysoon@gmail.com

RUFORUM Has Given Life Line to My PhD Journey


My name is Jackson Bunyangha from Uganda. Having completed my MSc in Environment and Natural Resources at Makerere University, I was eager to further my studies in Environmental Science particularly in the field of wetlands but in a new environment. Thus, I secured an admission at the University of Nairobi to do my PhD in Hydrobiology. However, I had no idea about where I would get the tuition. I contacted a friend who had been helped by RUFORUM during his studies. So, with his guidance I browsed RUFORUM website and got in touch with a staff member at the RUFORUM Secretariat who gave me hope that they (RUFORUM) would try and see that I get some scholarship. My heart leapt with joy at the sound of that news. The process started of exploiting the Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) window and after RUFORUM working expeditiously, I received a long-awaited email that I had been awarded the GTA contract. I could have been the happiest person in the whole world on that day.  

After about an hour from Entebbe Airport, I was already at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) ready to start my fundamental study journey. Luckily, I had a friend in the land who gave me an orientation about the new environment including the people and life in Nairobi. I also received a warm welcome from the School of Biological Sciences and was quickly assigned supervisors whom I worked with to develop the thesis research proposal to completion. To add to my Joy, I won another research scholarship from RUFORUM under the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project, which is funded by the UK Research and Innovation through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).  My study entitled Landscape transformation of fragile ecosystems in Uganda, the case of Mpologoma catchment in eastern Uganda, examines the historical land use and land cover changes in Mpologoma catchment and models their future dynamics. It then zeroes on the practices in each farming pathway in Mpologoma wetlands with a particular interest in how wetland farming affects soil invertebrate diversity. The study then ends with a choice experiment aimed at unearthing the values of the community around Mpologoma wetlands that could be incorporated into designing the sustainable management Mpologoma catchment. The aim is to generate information on the current and future state of Mpologoma landscape and use community perspectives to guide the design of a flexible catchment management strategy for Mpologoma catchment. The overarching aim is to identify possible tradeoffs between wetland farming and environmental conservation for sustainable management of Mpologoma wetlands.

Jackson doing field at Mpologoma Catchment, Eastern Uganda

Despite being a Ugandan, my fieldwork in the same land was not a bed of roses. The local people were hard to convince that I was doing a purely academic research. Many thought I was grabbing their land when they saw me using the GPS, camera and pick soil samples for invertebrate collections. Fortunately, however, I had informed the local leaders and showed them my university clearance and student ID which I dared not to forget during fieldwork and would present to whoever was confrontational. Secondly, I used local research assistants (like the one handpicking macroinvertebrates in the pic) whom they were familiar with and this eased the tension. I ensured that I sorted some soil samples by the roadside to reduce stranger anxiety. Endless explanations here and there and the official clearance helped in navigating fieldwork hurdles. Nevertheless, there were logistical issues where some farmers demanded that before they could participate in my study or I accessed their land I had to pay them, which for the sake of creating peace, I obliged.

Both quantitative and qualitative data has been collected using remote sensing, questionnaires and observations and is intended to be used in thesis writing. Of course, articles will be teased out for publication. So far, I have one land use and land cover manuscript which I submitted for publication. One key finding is that subsistence farming is the major land use causing unprecedented pressure on Mpologoma catchment. Modelling results revealed that farming will continue to change the landscape of Mpologoma catchment by the end of the first half of the 21st century. The study is cognizant of the increasing pressure on natural resources caused by the population bulge and underscores the key role of proper land use planning in driving sustainable land use in the catchment. I find this information handy in improving land use management at the local level. I intend to share my findings with the local environmental officers and land use planners. No new technology have I developed but modified Swift and Bignell’s monolith (2001) method upon observing that the 15 – 30 cm depth in wetland soils barely contained any soil macroinvertebrates. So, I adjusted and adapted the soil monolith depth to 15cm, hence 30 X 30 X 15 cm was the monolith used in this study. I still have lab work to do which I intend to finish by the end of January 2021 and then embark on data analysis and writing. Any opportunity to present at conferences will be much appreciated and I will be glad to write a policy brief at the end of the study.

Everything seemed to be moving on well until COVID-19 shattered the world. It started like a joke and no one, except the chemists who invented it, ever knew that COVID-19 would hold the whole world on tenterhooks. The rich died, the poor died, wildlife took to some streets in Europe and money could not help. I had just returned home to oversee the progress of some of my sample analyses at Makerere University and meet the GIS expert when while I planned to travel back to Nairobi over that weekend, a lockdown was declared on March 18, 2020 followed by a ban on public transport a week later! It was a surprise that sent chills down my spine like a horror movie. Oh, I froze! I was psychologically tortured for some time although I later gathered my wits knowing that I had some work with me that could keep me busy. I resolved to finish my first paper. Writing went on sluggishly though. Nevertheless, I had the manuscript ready and submitted it for publication in October. Although I haven’t fallen sick of COVID-19, I will always remember how the pandemic squandered my study time and messed up my opportunities.

In a nutshell, although it came later than was much needed, I appreciate the skills enhancement training in Remote sensing and GIS organized by RUFORUM in early September 2020. It helped me to improve my mapping.  Of course, time was short to receive a comprehensive land use analysis package but all was not lost. The AMOS training was also interesting and I will most likely use it in my analysis. The training in qualitative methods and data analysis by Sentinel researchers was also fine and gave insights despite intermittent network and power outage at the time.

For more details, please contact Mr. Jackson Bunyangha via email: jbjackson2011@gmail.com

Jackson

Studying forestry made me realise my destiny


My name is Basiru Adeniyi Okanlawon, PhD student of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

Brief about the study and aim.

  My research is about Climate change and climate justice. My research study will answer this questions:

a.            What kind of livelihoods, disaggregated by gender and marginalized groups, are obtained from different biophysical and socio-economic systems in the selected study sites?

b.            How vulnerable are the sources (forests and trees outside forests) that supply the identified livelihood support identified in (a) to climate change and climate variability?

c.             What are gender-sensitive resilience and adaptation measures and/or strategies employed and/or could be employed to address the adverse effects of climate change on the forest and tree resources that women, youth and marginalized groups depend on in the selected study sites?

d.            What conditions enable or constrain the enhancement of adaptive capacity of women, men, youth and other marginalized groups who depend on forests and trees outside forests in the selected study sites?

e.            What is the level of engagement and institutional arrangement of different partners in the selected countries particularly in implementing relevant adaptation and resilience measures?

Aim and significance of the research

The concept of gender is one that is either not well understood or misunderstood in many institutions and societies in Africa. This is compounded by the cultural norms and patriarchy that render the socio-economic status of gender sensitive low in Africa.

Basiru doing his field work in Southern Nigeria

The cause, the effect on the livelihood, mitigation and adaptation to climate change is gendered in iforest based communities in Africa. Because majority especially the people living in rural areas are highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood, therefore the full adaptation and responsive strategy to climate change vulnerability may never be grasped without an understanding of gender differential and social relations in the use forest resources, interests and household needs

Experiences

Destiny know how to fix you and achieve its mandate over your life! My own case is not different from other stories. I was born into a polygamous family, fourth and the first male child. Been the first male child, culture demands more from me, but I was handicapped because formal education is mirage in my family lineage. I vowed that I will have formal education, though it is not easy as expected but with perseverance and determination, I was able to make it to first degree. But! There is something I will never forget in my life, I was forced to study the course that I am not interested in “FORESTRY” Though it wasn’t intentional. Admission tussles pushed me to adopt forestry as last resort, my main targeted course is “MECHANICAL ENGINEERING”. Consequently, studying forestry gave me audacity to say this unequivocally that “The best thing that have ever happened to me and my destiny is studying forestry”. Forest is the ‘lung’ on which other sectors breathe! I have my reason to say this. Among the reasons are: Three prominent security is ravaging global village: Terrorism, Food and Environment, considering all, forestry is the only sector that can addressed the 3’s at once. Provision of food, employment, and environmental protection. There is an adage saying “When you cut the last tree on the planet, the last man standing goes into extinction”. This adage has been my driving force for years and this propelled my vision for forestry and Africa forest respectively.

My vision for Africa’s forests and forestry is to see an association of individuals who share the quest for and commitment to the sustainable management, use and conservation of the forest and tree resources of Africa for the socio-economic wellbeing of its people and for the stability and improvement of its environment. Also, like-minded people that will provide a platform and create an enabling environment for independent and objective analysis, advocacy and advice on relevant policy and technical issues pertaining to achieving sustainable management, use and conservation of Africa’s forest and tree resources, as part of efforts to reduce poverty, promote gender equality, economic and social development and environmental stability in the continent. Promoting the empowerment of all stakeholders in African forestry, including women, youth and marginalized groups who are often forgotten or not given sufficient voice, recognition and resources to play their role effectively on forestry and related matters. Before the vision can be achievable and see the limelight, different stakeholders hand must be on deck for the goal to be achieved. Among the undisputable actors are the YOUTH! Why the Youth? The role and engagement of youth and young people in Africa forest and forestry cannot be over-emphasized because youth needs to be engaged in many capacity buildings so as to resuscitate the worst conditions that have emanated from forestry sector due to deforestation and anthropogenic activities. Older people have tried their best in achieving goals for the forestry sectors in Africa but their best is not good enough, it is high time the youth take the mantle of leadership, I mean the youth with passion and vision for “sustainable forestry” in form economic, environmental, social, ecological, and recreational, and not the youth with “quick money” syndrome. Comparing the situation of today’s forestry with the likes in 70 or 80 years back, both the individuals, governmental and NGO’s needs to work on modalities on how youth must be engaged based on technicality and passion on forestry area of specialization: Ecology, Silviculture, Economics, Woods, Wildlife, Biometry, Agroforestry and Climate Change. Consequently will bring effectiveness and goals. The aforementioned institutions above needs to engaged in the area of: Awareness, capacity building, liaise with institutions to updates the “forestry curriculum” in our various institutions offering forestry related courses so that the profession will be attractive from onset. The passionate youth categories can start small from tree planting, schools awareness and volunteering programmes to make this happen.

After the first degree and the secondary degree, it will be necessary to highlight briefly on my academic journey and what has been done to impact the society positively through the research. After Bachelor of Forestry from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, I was awarded a postgraduate scholarship programme (EU supported Intra-ACP SHARE project) to study Research Methods at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya in 2014. My MSc research focused on “Vulnerability to climate change and variability: A gender analysis of Forest-Based communities of Southwest Nigeria”won me (US$10,000) in 2015 African Forest Forum (AFF), World Agroforestry Centre research grant targeting how climate change affect gender. Among the contribution of the research to the body of knowledge include: impact of climate change and vulnerability are not gender-neutral, female are more vulnerable based on forest resources affinity, collection and utilization, low awareness on climate change, low understanding and basic interpretation of climate change, decision making, governance and forest resource management were dominated by male and gender inequality in coping strategies. In fairness, to me, the AFF research award/grant is the best thing that have happened to me academically because it has shaped my career to be focused and put me in a limelight academically from global perspective. In continuation for next line, another PhD proposal received a financial support from RUFORUM under the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project with research title “Climate Change and Climate.

Basiru (2nd from Left) with other Sentinel PhD Students at the RUFORUM AGM in Cape Coast, Ghana

Justice: A gender Analysis of REDD+ piloted site in South-South Nigeria”. I have built upon these exposures and networks to engage in collaborative creating awareness on climate change and variability, gender empowerment, gender oriented capacity building programmes, knowledge sharing and dissemination of research findings that will benefit Africa and his home country Nigeria through sensitized the dwellers, created awareness on climate change. I am currently a PhD student at Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria and also serving as a Forest officer at Ogun State Ministry of Forestry, Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria.

Career and mentorship are two inseparable if one want to go far in life! I enjoyed unquantifiable support from my mentors: Dr. Oladoye (FUNNAB), Dr. Oeba (ICRAF) and Prof. Mukundi (JKUAT). They collectively shaped my career and specialization with tutoring, engagement by allowing me to work independently followed with constructive criticism. These strategies are what I am still enjoying till date, I can say this unequivocally that, it is an arsenal that have make me compete with rest of the world, and I have won on many occasions! Many thanks for allowing God to use them for me!

I have also been engaged academically and been to many academic outing, RUFORUM engagement is the best of all, I love those knowledge oriented programmes organized both virtually and physically such as the RUFORUM Biennial Conference 2018 and the Sentinel Students Research Orientation Week during the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Cape Coast, Ghana held in December 2019. People from United Kingdom Ms Beth Downe (IIED), Dr Adam Devenish (Imperial College London), Dr. Geoffrey Griffiths(University of Reading), Professor Majaliwa Mwanjalolo (Makerere University) and most especially the RUFORUM Secretariat (Dr Anthony Egeru and Mr. David Ekepu) channel of communication have been fantastic.

Lest I forget, No human creature envisaged what could happen with the outbreak of COVID-19. To be sincere, the pandemic slowed down my research activities and I am still trying to adjust to the “new normal”. I have a good relationship with my Supervisor and things are moving gradually though not as expected due to COVID-19 restriction in my data collection state coupled with Academic Staff Union strike that has been ravaging the academic environment in Nigeria since March 2020.

For more details, please contact Mr. Basiru Adeniyi Okanlawon via email: okanlawon.basiru@students.jkuat.ac.ke

Opportunités de Formation de Troisième Cycle dans le cadre du Programme d’Assistanat d’Enseignement Supérieur de RUFORUM (GTA)- [ French ]


Lors de la réunion annuelle des Vice-Chanceliers / Présidents / Directeurs de Section / Recteurs des Universités Membres de RUFORUM (voir les liens sur le Dépliant de RUFORUM et l’Aperçu de RUFORUM) qui s’est tenue le 11 novembre 2020, les Vice-Chanceliers ont réaffirmé leur engagement envers le Programme d’Assistanat d’Enseignement Supérieur (GTA) qu’ils ont initié en 2014. Les objectifs du GTA sont les suivants: i) Améliorer la qualité de l’enseignement supérieur et augmenter le nombre du personnel académique formé au niveau du doctorat dans les universités Africaines; ii) Fournir à la recherche doctorale des opportunités de contribuer plus directement au développement de l’Afrique; iii) Renforcer la collaboration interuniversitaire dans le domaine de l’enseignement supérieur en Afrique; et iv) Promouvoir la mobilité du personnel parmi les universités membres de RUFORUM et à travers l’Afrique.

Suite à la réunion des Vice-Chanceliers du 11 novembre 2020, le Secrétariat de RUFORUM est heureux d’annoncer la disponibilité des opportunités de formation dans ses différentes Universités Membres dans le cadre de l’accord GTA. Le Secrétariat sollicite plus d’offres d’autres universités membres pour former des candidats GTA.

Dans le cadre du Progamme GTA:

  1. Les universités d’envoi nomment les membres de leur personnel pour être formé pendant que le secrétariat de RUFORUM aide à les placer dans les universités d’accueil (hôte)
  2. Les universités d’envoi s’engagent à payer les frais de voyage, d’assurance, de survie et de recherche de leur personnel en formation
  3. Les universités d’accueil renoncent aux frais académiques et aux coûts y associés, et fournissent un logement aux boursiers GTA admis
  4. Une fois que le processus d’admission est terminé, les universités d’envoi et d’accueil ainsi que le boursier GTA nommé signent un accord tripartite pour guider l’accueil et la formation du boursier
  5. Dans certains cas où des opportunités existent, l’université d’accueil peut associer le boursier GTA au programme de recherche de l’université d’accueil
  6. Le secrétariat de RUFORUM facilite l’accord GTA et fait le suivi sur la formation des boursiers GTA

Postgraduate Training Opportunities under the RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship Program (GTA) – [ English]


During the annual meeting of Vice Chancellors/Presidents/Principals/Rectors of RUFORUM Member Universities (see links about RUFORUM flier and RUFORUM at a Glance) held on 11th November 2020, the Vice Chancellors re-affirmed their commitment to the Graduate Teaching Assistantship Program that they initiated in 2014. The objectives of the GTA are to: i) Improve the quality of higher education and increase the pool of PhD-level trained academic staff in African universities; ii) Provide opportunities for the doctoral research to contribute more directly to African development; iii) Strengthen inter- university collaboration in the field of higher education in Africa; and iv) Promote staff mobility among RUFORUM member universities, and across Africa.

Following the meeting of the Vice Chancellors on 11th November 2020, the RUFORUM Secretariat is pleased to announce the availability of training opportunities at the different Member Universities as part of the GTA arrangement. The Secretariat invites for more offers from the other member universities to train GTA candidates.

Under the GTA arrangement:

  1. The sending universities nominate the staff to be trained and RUFORUM Secretariat helps to get them placed in receiving (host) Universities
  2. The sending universities commit to pay for travel, health insurance, upkeep and research of their staff under training
  3. The receiving/host universities waive the fees and associated costs, and provide accommodation for the admitted GTA Fellows
  4. Once admission process is completed, the sending and host universities and the nominated GTA Fellow sign a Tripartite Agreement to guide the hosting and training of the Fellow
  5. In some cases where opportunities exist, the host University may attach the GTA Fellow to the research program at the hosting university
  6. The RUFORUM Secretariat facilitates the GTA arrangement and follows up on the GTA training

[Issue 73] Media Monitoring: Extract of Press News on Higher Education in Africa

[Issue 72] Media Monitoring: Extract of Press News on Higher Education in Africa

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