Report of the UoE-LOC on RUFORUM Biennial conference 20th – 26th October, 2018

The sixth African Higher Education week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference had an overall objective of providing a platform for dialogue on the role of Agricultural Universities in Africa’s development agenda and also to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 and subsequently, the African Union Agenda 2063.

The conference whose overall theme was “Aligning African Universities to accelerate attainment of Africa’s Agenda 2063” was facilitated by the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Education and Ten RUFORUM member Universities in Kenya (UoE being among them).

The conference which was attended by over 1000 delegates representing governments, academia, the private sector, farmers, civil society organizations, banks, students and other organizations was organized into pre-conference events. These pre-conference events included; training on intellectual property right management, leadership and management, Forum for Women Vice Chancellors in Africa, social media and training for public relations officers of universities, a round table meeting of African higher education ministers, a dialogue Forum for African Ministers, African Union Commission and African Vice Chancellors, high level dialogue between African and Korea on higher education and RUFORUM governance meetings.

As a University through the LOC, we managed to participate in key Exhibitions during the conference which was led by Prof John Simiyu, whereby three faculty and 5 students exhibited their exhibits. The University also managed to produce 39 extended abstracts and in the end, 32 posters were presented. The University produced three top students among the top ten best posters with the remaining students appearing among the top 100 out of about 540 posters presented.

Overall, African Universities that were present resolved to:

  1. Enhance the sharing of knowledge, lessons and experiences with international and regional partners, such as from the United States, Europe, Korea, Japan, China and Brazil, among others, to facilitate and accelerate university transformation for relevance in Africa.
  2. Focus on strengthening agribusiness innovation in Africa through improving entrepreneurial spirit in graduates to contribute to employment creation for young people, both through self-employment and the creation of new employment opportunities;
  3. Make use of academic mobility to accelerate the training of a critical mass of faculty in Africa and ensure that they are retained locally to support teaching and research. The RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship programme, for strengthening staff capacities in African universities, is a good example of a strong program that needs to be supported;
  4. Strengthen use of ICTs to improve the decentralization of teaching and learning, enhance access to the wider public, and reduce the costs of education in Africa;
  5. Provide programs, schemes and incentives that will ensure the training and mentoring of women scientists in Africa.
  6. African universities need to build the necessary skills and knowledge to drive agri-food systems transformation and respond to the needs of the agri-food sector in Africa.
  7. Improve on postgraduate completion rates and support for women scientists through increased funding for research and structured supervision.
  8. Strengthen research capacity and excellence in African universities.

The Meeting further called upon African governments to:

  1. Increase ‘academic mobility schemes’ and strengthen Centers of Excellence to enhance mobility, regional level training and enhance economies of scope and scale.
  2. Establish Research Chairs in African Universities to promote research excellence and addressing critical issues in Africa such as in the areas of Data Management, Nutrition, Soil and water Management, and Foresight studies.
  3. Establish a common research fund for strengthening African science, technology and innovation in Africa to take the commendations of the Ministerial Round table meeting to Committee of Ten Heads of State championing education, science and technology in Africa.
  4. Retook at curriculum from primary through secondary school levels, including technical, vocational and technical education with a view to improving the attractiveness of agricultural courses and agriculture as a profession.
  5. Provide the necessary infrastructure required to pursue and own and science, technology and innovation agenda and harness digital technologies for enhancing education and learning, and agricultural productivity from farm to fork;
  6. Bridge the gender gap in science by increasing the female participation to support of Agenda 2063 vision of quality education and gender equality.
  7. Strengthen foresight capacity at African universities and other partners and support capacity building in this important area to support planning and future implementation of key programs.
  8. Establish a regional initiative to Build Africa’s Higher Education, Science Technology and Innovation Capacity (BASTIC).
  9. Endorse the expansion and strengthening of postgraduate training in Agriculture, Science, Technology and Innovation through Africa’s Agricultural Higher Education, Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (AHESTI) in alignment with AU educational frameworks.
  10. Commit to work through national mechanisms to legitimize the work of RUFORUM in the Member States through a Charter to be endorsed by the respective Governments in line with the Member State’s established procedures.

The conference concluded by further affirming the commitment of the RUFORUM network and partners to champion African higher education that generates contextualized agricultural, science and technology innovations for enhanced food and nutrition security and broader economic development in Africa.

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