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Area 4: Higher Education and Workforce Development

Outcomes:

 

Presentations:

 

References: 

 

Questions for Discussion by all Breakout Groups

 
TUESDAY, MARCH 1 
 
Where are we?   Examining Partnership Progress and Lessons in Four Key Areas: Integrating Food Aid, Food Security and Nutrition Programs; Building Effective Producer Organizations; Public-Private Partnerships; and Higher Education, Research, and Training
 
Discussion questions for all breakout groups:
 
(1)  Where are we? What are we learning from our actions to date? Where have we made progress in putting together partnerships for action?
(2) What are the main constraints to greater effectiveness and scaling up impacts in this area? 
 
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
 
How Can We Do Better? What Do We Need to Do Next to Get Down to Business and Scale up Agricultural Development in Africa?
 
Discussion questions for all breakout groups:
 
(3) What are specific recommendations for action by all partners (national and regional CAADP/FTF programs and their partners in the donor, university, research, private sector, and NGO communities) that would increase impact, especially through scaling up successful efforts?
(4) What are specific recommendations that would improve how country and regional CAADP/FTF programs and their partners could better “learn while doing”?
 
 

Partnership Area 4 Overview

 
Higher education, research, and workforce development
 
Formal education institutions are fundamental to building the capacity of individuals to think about issues, solve problems, propose new ways of doing business, and continue learning from experience. For many years, the emphasis has been on boosting access to basic and primary education. A great deal of success has been achieved as rates of primary school enrollment have increased significantly since 1990 when the Education for All initiative was launched, although concerns about quality remain important. While both enrollment and completion rates in sub-Saharan Africa are lower than in other regions of the world, secondary net enrollment rates have increased from 18 percent in 1999 to 25 percent in 2006 (EFA Monitoring Report, 2009). Secondary education expansion was, in part, a consequence of the success of the push for primary education so it is to be expected that demand for tertiary education will follow in sequence. The need for both more and more quality, relevant higher education opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, however, also stems from the realization that the challenges of food and agriculture will require “homegrown” scientists and technology-savvy technicians who are capable of supporting a uniquely African and “greener” green revolution.  
 
Simply building universities and technical and vocational training schools and enrolling more students in agriculture-related programs, however, are not enough. Building quality programs and institutions is paramount. Faculty must be recruited, supported, and given opportunities to engage in relevant research; mechanisms for enabling students to gain hands-on experience as well as improving curricula for classroom learning need to be developed; and employers (especially in the private sector) must perceive that the training received is of real value and that graduates merit job opportunities. Fears about “brain drain” need to be addressed, as do the questions of equal opportunity for poor students as well as rich, and for women as well as men.
 
While long-term, institution-building development assistance geared toward the establishment of world-class university or community-college systems relevant to food and agriculture is rare these days, university partnerships have been seen as a useful approach to strengthening the capacity of African universities and their contributions to development efforts. Such partnerships involve support for: (1) building networks of African universities in which each specializes in a specific field and permits students from other universities to attend for a period to acquire that specialized field of knowledge; (2) faculty exchanges, e.g., between an African university and a foreign university; and (3) joint programming, e.g., to strengthen teaching, research, and/or curriculum development in a focused area; and (4) strengthening the administrative capacity of higher education institutions to raise funds, oversee grants and more effectively manage the resources they have.
 
TUESDAY, MARCH 1
 
(1)    Where are we? What are we learning from our actions to improve higher education in Africa, for example, from the Carnegie-funded RISE networks or the BMGF faculty support in Ghana and Kwazulu-Natal? Where have we made progress in putting together partnerships for action – among African universities, between universities in Africa and outside the region, with research institutions, with businesses who are relying on the higher education system for their workforce? 
 
(2)   What are the main constraints to greater effectiveness of programs to strengthen both the quantity and quality of higher education in Africa? What prevents scaling up successful and innovative efforts to achieve greater impacts: better trained faculty and students, greater gender balance, greater employment opportunities for graduates? 
 
Possible questions for discussion:
 
•        Are the current efforts in higher education – both U.S. and international –contributing to the ”radical reform” of African higher education institutions called for in the Framework on African Agricultural Productivity (aka the FAAP, or CAAPD’s Pillar IV framework)?   Are some African countries doing better than others? What are the reasons for this?
 
        What are specific good examples of how African universities and other tertiary education institutions are partnering well with research institutions and the private sector to enable faculty to provide quality education and training opportunities for their agricultural students?
 
        Is there agreement on the right balance of funding between the various elements of an education system? How close are African systems to achieving this balance? Are there sources of funding other than public funding that could help support the education system, and especially the higher education institutions?
 
        How is the quantity-quality debate playing out? Has emphasis on greater quantity of training/education opportunities seriously affected the quality of training/education being provided?  What are the greatest constraints to taking action to improve quality? What have we learned about the most effective ways to improve quality?
 
        What are the other constraints to effective agriculture-related education these days? Is “brain drain” an important constraint on domestic and donor funding and if so, how can this be addressed? Do we have any good examples of how “brain drain” can be transformed into “brain gain” as Africans in Europe, Asia, or America are drawn back to support agricultural development and food security efforts at home?
 
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
 
(3)   What are specific recommendations for action by all partners (national and regional CAADP/FTF programs and their partners in the donor, university, research, private sector, and NGO/CSO communities) that would increase the ability of higher education institutions to contribute to greater food security and agricultural growth, especially through scaling up successful efforts to improve the quality and relevance of higher education? Of the needed changes outlined by FAAP, which ones are the highest priority now?
 
(4)   What are specific recommendations that would improve how country and regional CAADP/FTF programs and their partners could better “learn while doing” in as they work to increase the role, relevance, and quality of higher education systems in achieving the CAADP/FTF goals?
 
Possible questions for discussion:
 
        How can higher education in Africa be more relevant to needs across the board: farm-level, along the value chain, providing sector leadership, and building the capacity for research? What changes can be initiated with the current separation of education and research structures? Is there a clear agenda for revising the way that governments support education and research so that more collaborative efforts are supported?
 
        What do African universities and their international partners need to do to scale up those programs found to be most relevant right now: partnering with each other and with the private sector, strategic networking among universities and departments, collaborative investments, etc. What kinds of changes need to be addressed (on a priority basis) so that the FAAP agenda and Africa’s higher education capacities expand along with demand over the next 20 years?
 
        What specific steps need to be taken to ensure that African universities (and faculty members) can better partner with agricultural research institutions to provide quality education and training opportunities for their agricultural students?
 
        What role should universities play in supporting CAADP and FTF strategies in the short term? Are there specific practices or approaches that should be scaled up for broader impact?
 
        What steps should CAADP/FTF take to create and strengthen mid-level higher education institutions, like polytechnics and community colleges?
 
        What approaches should be recommended as  most effective in attracting youth into agricultural higher education (and research)? What needs to be done to make these approaches equally effective in reaching out to men and women?  Should efforts like AWARD be scaled up for greater impact?
 
        What steps can African and donor countries take to ensure that “brain drain” becomes “brain gain” – as members of the Diaspora are tapped for their knowledge, energy, and connections?

 

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