Celebrating RUFORUM@10 – RUFORUM Small Competitive Grants; GRGs – Graduate Research Grants

This is the fifth in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our 10 year anniversary. Download by clicking on the following links to access the previous issues;  ICT in the RUFORUM Network: Changing Pedagogical Paradigms, Priorities, and Practice (fourth issue),  Briefing note on the 4th biennial conference (third issue), RUFORUM’s Developmental Roots (second issue) and  RUFORUM@10 (first issue).

A universally common feature of the post-independence economies of Africa was the near absence of well qualified and experienced professionals in almost all fields – health, education, policy, and agriculture. In many important disciplines, severe deficits of professionals remain today. Many African universities are crowded, poorly resourced, and often unable, even with the best of staff, to provide the quality of education that Africa needs.  Professions, such as agricultural research, where local conditions can be demanding and the rewards (in the absence of adequate facilities and support) are poor, are unable to attract the most talented Africans they need.

Consider the situation which faces the newly trained professional in agriculture returning with a fresh doctorate from a top international university. That person will typically enter an empty laboratory. Transport to the field – to collect samples or data, to meet with farmers and suppliers, and to allow students to undertake field trips – will be limited and of poor reliability. The overcrowded undergraduate programme imposes a challenging teaching load; the demands of university administration further erode the available time for effective field research. There are two common outcomes – either professors simply repeat the experiments that they learned as part of their overseas study or they give up research, take on consulting assignments to supplement their (usually modest) incomes, and neglect their teaching duties. Students become disillusioned and few are attracted to further studies. The skills gap in the vital agricultural industries remains unfilled. Click here to view or download the full issue

The RUFORUM Network: Changing Pedagogical Paradigms, Priorities, and Practice

The road to Maputo: 21-25 July 2014.
This is the fourth in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our 10 year anniversary. The authors for this issue are Nodumo Dhlamini (ICT Program Manager,  RUFORUM) and Lisbeth Levey, (Consultant, ICT for Development)  Download by clicking on the following issues to access the previous issues; Briefing note on the 4th biennial conference (third issue), RUFORUM’s Developmental Roots (second issue) and  RUFORUM@10 (first issue).

When, Where, and How It all Started
When the FORUM project began, connectivity was not taken for granted the way it sometimes is today.  Email utilization on a measurable scale only began in the late 1980s.  The story of ICT in Africa is one of profound need coupled with intense creativity to drive the rapid spread of these technologies.  The FORUM and now RUFORUM epitomize this principle.  In order to understand just how far RUFORUM has come, a few examples are highlighted below of innovative ICT deployment in universities in the five FORUM countries (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe).

  • In 1990, the Bunda College of Agriculture library created an automated bibliographic database of research carried out in Malawi relevant to maize production.  This was one of the first such bibliographies created anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Also in 1990, the small computer center at Eduardo Mondlane University installed an email system, first for the university and then for the entire country, using a dedicated telephone line and a painfully slow modem (1200 bps).  These early experiments paid off.  In 1995, UEM became the second university north of the Limpopo to achieve full Internet capability.
  • In 1991, the University of Nairobi, Makerere University, and the University of Zimbabwe joined an ambitious effort to provide email to their university communities
  • In the mid ‘90’s, Rockefeller Foundation helped selected FORUM university faculties and departments create special computer labs and networks, equipped with CD-ROM, in order to access bibliographic and abstracting databases in the agricultural sciences, particularly TEEAL, the full-text CD-ROM agricultural library of about 130 journals.  RUFORUM has continued to work with its network—organizing training workshops and subsidizing subscription costs.  Because these universities have recognized the importance of TEEAL, more than half of them are paying for their own subscriptions, now that RUFORUM is no longer covering the costs.
  • Not content with CD-ROM, the Rockefeller Foundation helped FORUM postgraduate students at Makerere University organize an information retrieval skills workshop in 1997 on using the Internet and search engines to access research information in the agricultural sciences.  RUFORUM workshops such as this one continue.
  • In 1993, the African Journal of Crop Sciences began as a print journal in the department of crop sciences at Makerere University.  It is now fully online and freely accessible worldwide (http://www.bioline.org.br/cs).  It was an important vehicle then for publishing FORUM research output and remains so today for RUFORUM.

Key findings from RUFORUM ICT studies

  • In 2009 86 percent of the RUFORUM universities surveyed had a campus backbone; 58 percent had ICT policies in place; and 60 percent had central ICT units to manage and monitor ICT projects.  However, the Colleges of Agriculture lagged behind in use of ICT for teaching, learning, and research in comparison to other disciplines within the university.
  • In 2011 59 percent of the 29 universities surveyed had a rationale in place for e-learning within an explicit institutional plan; 45 percent had e-learning policies compared to 26 percent in 2009; and 32 percent had e-learning units.  The situation for the Colleges of Agriculture, however, remained the same—teaching content in agriculture was almost negligible on institutional learning management systems. Click here to view or download the full issue


Briefing Note on the RUFORUM Fourth Biennial Conference

The road to Maputo: 21-25 July 2014.
RUFORUM’s DEVELOPMENTAL ROOTS was the second in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our 10 year anniversary. Click here to read or download this issue

Once every two years, RUFORUM organizes an Africa-wide week-long conference with the aim of fostering networking among its member universities and to link universities to other actors in the Agricultural and Tertiary Agricultural Education sectors.  The Fourth RUFORUM Biennial Conference will take place from 19 – 25 July 2014 at the VIP Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique under the theme African Higher Education Week: Celebrating the contribution of African Universities and Partners to agricultural development in Africa.The Fourth Biennial is special in many ways:

  • It coincides with the 10 Year anniversary of RUFORUM, and will thus provide an opportunity to reflect on the progress made over the years, and visioning on the growth path for the next decade;
  • The Biennial will be held in Maputo, where 10 years ago African Heads of States and Governments signed the CAADP declaration. The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) is the blue print agreed upon by African Heads of States and Governments for achieving 6% economic growth through agricultural transformation.
  • It falls within the African Year of Agriculture and Food Security which was declared by the African Union, as part of celebrating CAADP at 10.  This Biennial provides an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of African Universities and Partners to agricultural development and food security in the continent.

This year’s conference will particularly focus on the future of agriculture and Agricultural Tertiary Education in Africa and will include the launching of RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship Programme, an initiative by Vice Chancellors to increase the pool of PhD trained scientists in Africa. The conference will bring together close to 500 delegates from across Africa and beyond, including development partners and senior African Policy makers. Click here to view or download the full issue

RUFORUM Launches Mobile App for the Upcoming 4th Biennial Conference 2014

There’s an app for just about everything nowadays, and RUFORUM is excited to announce that the 4th Biennial Conference 2014 has one too! Our mobile app will bring the experience at the 4th Biennial Conference 2014 to a new level. Attendees will be able to see more, do more, and get more value out of the event—right from their mobile devices.
Features of the app include:
  1. The full event schedule sorted by day, speaker, and/or track, and the ability to rate the sessions directly on the app
  2. Connect and exchange contact details with other attendees
  3. Share your event experiences on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
  4. Follow the event on Twitter using #RUFORUM
  5. Find session and exhibitor locations with maps of exhibit halls and session rooms
  6. See details about all the exhibitors and sponsors
Notifications about networking opportunities, contests, and other breaking event news pushed directly to your device
  1. To download and install the app,follow the steps below;
  2. For apple and andriod users, please click here directly from your phone
  3. For BlackBerry, Windows Phone users, and Desktop computers, please click here to view using  from your device. 
  4. You can search in the apple store or Google play for RUFORUM or Biennial and the application will be listed in your search results

This app performs optimally whether or not there’s an Internet connection. For Blackberry users, the app version will be online. When connected, the app downloads updates (like a schedule or room change). Once downloaded, all of the data is stored locally on the device so it’s accessible even if there’s no Wi-Fi.

Celebrating RUFORUM@10: RUFORUM’s Developmental Roots

The road to Maputo: 21-25 July 2014.
This is the second in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our 10 year anniversary. The author, Joyce Moock, is a former Associate Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation and was instrumental in founding FORUM, the predecessor programme to RUFORUM. Click here to see our first release where we announced the anniversary celebrations.

In over a little more than two decades RUFORUM has evolved from a regional, crop-based network of five agricultural faculties into a blockbuster regional consortium of 32 universities in eastern, central and southern Africa.  It is now a wholly African governed and managed network with a Secretariat, housed at Makerere University, which provides the platform for catalyzing change in African higher level capacity building.

The RUFORUM model is deliberately based on a high leverage concept that brings about broad change in universities. Through competitive sub-grants, specialized training sessions and intensive knowledge sharing, it exposes universities to both demand and opportunities to produce more relevant graduates and research to serve poor rural communities. RUFORUM’s learning network has been able to impact attitudes, curricula, pedagogical standards and university partnerships with smallholder farmers and with a wide assortment of agricultural development agencies.  By operating in a network mode, RUFORUM creates economies of scale in delivering these services.  To date, it has served over 1197 postgraduate students (1005 MSc and 192 PhD) and 2,340 faculty, with nearly 40% of the student grants awarded to women. Its Biennial Conferences attract over 600 participants from inside and outside Africa.  Its impactful community action programs have drawn support from numerous funders. And the innovations keep coming.  Most recently, nine of RUFORUM’s member universities have committed to host a graduate teaching assistants exchange whereby the host university waives fees and provides accommodation for PhD students and staff nominated by their universities. The sending universities provide travel, stipend and research funds.  In turn, the host university is eligible to send staff for specialized training to a sister university under the same arrangement. Click here to view or download the full issue


Celebrating RUFORUM@10: Special Issue

In 2014, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) celebrates 10 years as a network of universities and 22 years of addressing tertiary agricultural education issues in eastern, central and southern Africa. The Network was created to provide university support to the implementation of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), an initiative by African Heads of States and Governments to revamp the agricultural sector and ensure food and nutrition security on the continent. During this period, RUFORUM has worked with universities, small farmers, policy organs and other partners to ensure high quality graduates and research that is relevant to sustainable agriculture and rural development in eastern, central and southern Africa.  2014 marks the tenth anniversary for both RUFORUM and CAADP.

RUFORUM has grown under the guidance of senior African professionals, from a crop-based Rockefeller Foundation programme (FORUM) into a regional broad-based consortium of 32 universities in 18 countries in eastern, central and southern Africa (see Box 1).  Its strategic goals are based on two assumptions.  First, development is more likely to occur where there is an active, well-informed critical mass of locally based agricultural professionals to conduct relevant problem-solving research.  Second, the results of such research are more likely to be applied when based on strengthening a demand-driven research agenda – via linkages to smallholder farmers, community organizations, service agencies and policy makers to ensure research relevance and impact on the one hand and matching training and education to the potential job market on the other. Click here to read more on the RUFORUM Celebration@10

Announcing the 4th RUFORUM Biennial Conference

Universidade Eduardo Mondlane

The Hosting University for the 4th Biennial Conference, 2014

The 2014 RUFORUM Biennial Conference is the fourth in the series. Its main objective is to provide a platform for agricultural research to development stakeholders in Africa and elsewhere. The biennial aims to allow participants to exchange findings, experience, and lessons learned in order to improve the performance of the continent’s agriculture sector and impact on people’s livelihoods. It is especially dedicated to the network’s postgraduate students and their supervisors, grantees in RUFORUM’s member universities, and members of the RUFORUM alumni family. It is a platform for peer review, quality control, mentorship, networking, and shared learning.

This year’s biennial coincides with RUFORUM’s tenth anniversary and the African Union Commission decision to celebrate 2014 as a year of agriculture and food security in Africa and to mark the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Thus, the 2014 Biennial will provide an opportunity to African universities, researchers, development practitioners, and others to reflect on progress over the last decade and device strategies or options for accelerating agricultural progress on the continent. RUFORUM anticipates over 300 participants from within and outside Africa. The 2014 Biennial will link stakeholders in agriculture to new products and trends, with a particular focus on strengthening partnerships for higher education in agriculture. Biennial participants will have an opportunity to showcase their contributions to agricultural development in Africa. Young researchers will be exposed to innovative agricultural research and will have an opportunity to strengthen their communication skills through participation in special workshops, poster sessions, and participation in panel sessions.Read more by clicking here

Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity at Haramaya University 25 February-1st March 2013

Three RUFORUM Secretariat staff members (Nodumo Dhlamini, Joan Apio and Rebecca Mwima) traveled to Haramaya University in Eastern Ethiopia to conduct Web 2.0 Training for 27 female post-graduate students. The training has been supported by both RUFORUM and CTA.

In 2012 RUFORUM awarded Haramaya University in Ethiopia a grant to support female post-graduate students in a number of areas. The grant is being implemented by the Gender Directorate at Haramaya led by Dr Emebet Belete Negatu and Dr Jemal Yousuf. The activities of this project include providing E-resources and E-tools training for Research Management for female postgraduate students. This includes training in web 2.0 tools for research and development.The activity is in line with RUFORUM’s vision which focuses on “High performing African universities that produce skilled, proactive graduates, demand driven research outputs and innovation in response to local, regional and national agricultural development priorities”

RUFORUM has been working with CTA and COL (Commonwealth of Learning) since September 2008 to implement Web 2.0 Tools for Research Support and Networking training within its network.

Please read more about the event from:

  1. Web 2 for Development Gateway
  2. Web2forDev Face Book Group

Invitation to join online Discussion Forums

Dear all,

This is to invite you to join our online discussion forums on the RUFORUM Website.

  • to share experiences of how RUFORUM Initiatives, activities and Programs are influencing change in the area of Capacity Building in Agriculture in Africa focusing on agricultural research.
  • to contribute to the M&E process on the impact of the RUFORUM Network in influencing Change higher Education in the Agricultural sector

We understand your busy schedule, but we really value your experience and knowledge in such important and critical discussions. Your contributions will really facilitate in shaping better advice and policies for the RUFORUM Network

Please visit our discussion forums by clicking on the following links below:

General discussions:http://www.ruforum.org/content/ruforum-general-forums

Alumni discussions: http://www.ruforum.org/content/welcome-alumni

Announcement – 3rd RUFORUM Biennial Conference


We are pleased to inform you that the Third RUFORUM Biennial Conference will be held in Entebbe, Uganda in conjunction with the RUFORUM Annual General Meeting. Please note these dates and block them to schedule your attendance to this important event

This conference will be hosted by Makerere University in partnership with RUFORUM


i.    Risk and Vulnerability in African Agriculture
ii.    Value Chains and Innovation Platforms
iii.    Innovations in Agricultural Information, Communication & Knowledge Management
iv.    Natural Resource Management
v.    Plant and Animal Health Management
vi.    Agricultural Marketing, Trade and Policy
vii.    Strengthening S&T Capacity in Africa: Engaging Women and Youth
viii.    Monitoring and Impact Assessment
ix.    Partnerships and Networking

Abstracts                   – 29th February 2012
Extended Abstracts – 30th April 2012
Registration              – 30th July 2012

Ms Nodumo Dhlamini
Email: n.dhlamini@ruforum.org OR secretariat@ruforum.org
Tel: +256414535939
Website: http://www.ruforum.org/content/3rd-ruforum-biennial-regional-conference

Updates on the Ministerial Conference on Higher Education in Agriculture

6th May 2010


The Government of Uganda in conjunction with RUFORUM and other regional and international partners will be hosting this conference from the 15th to the 19th of November 2010.

  • Conference announcement: Following the authority from the Ministry of Education and Sports, RUFORUM has issued an announcement for the conference using various media channels and international meetings. Announcements have been circulated globally
  1. An international planning meeting was held in Montpellier, France in March 2010 attended by 12 international delegates
  2. We held a meeting in Ghana where we briefed about 15 representatives from various parts of Africa, including Ghana Minister of Education
  3. Advance invitation has been extended to about 150 persons
  4. We have contacted key organizations including Africa Union, NEPAD, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and southern Africa), Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agriculture, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, etc
  • Contact with Senior African Leaders: We have made contact with the Office of the current Chair of the African Union, HE the President of Malawi, and HE the President of Ghana. We are also making arrangements for meeting the African Union, and making contact with Office of HE the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
  • Draft Programme: Is now ready
  • Resource Mobilization: This is on-going. The draft budget is being finalized and we are soliciting for support from various sources.
  • Meetings with the Government of Uganda: Update meetings continue to be held with the government
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