The 2016 African Higher Education Week & RUFORUM Biennial Conference
RUFORUM organises the African Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference (hereafter, Biennial Conference) to 1) collaboratively with stakeholders review African agricultural university performance and obtain feedback including from policy makers; 2) provide a platform for sharing of best practices and reforms within the higher education sector, from across the globe, but also within RUFORUM member universities; 3) build professional ‘communities of practice’ that engage postgraduates students, universities staff, and stakeholders to improve value chains and higher education contribution to farm incomes; and 4) provide a platform for students to share their research work and also identify mentors and other opportunities for their transitions out of school, into employment or entrepreneurship. The Biennial Conference is RUFORUM’s most comprehensive meeting for the diversity of stakeholders in agriculture. It is especially dedicated to graduate students and their supervisors, grantees in RUFORUM member universities and alumni. It is a platform for peer review, quality control, mentorship, networking and shared learning. The Conference will be co-organised in partnership with the African Union Commission Departments of Human Resources Science and Technology and Rural Economy and Agriculture. The ultimate aim will be to improve smallholder agriculture in Africa. A theme is chosen for each Biennial towards achieving the mission of RUFORUM Universities. The overall theme of the 2016 Conference is “Linking Agricultural Universities with Civil Society, the Private Sector, Governments and other Stakeholders in support of Agricultural Development in Africa”.
The 2016 Biennial Conference will purposely strive to enhance the linkages among universities (leadership, lecturers and students), governments, the private sector, civil society and policy makers for increased investments and partnership to enhance contribution of the HAE sector to development. The Conference will provide opportunity to hear directly from the Private Sector on their demands related to how the Higher Education Sector can better contribute towards their business processes. The Private sector will also be engaged to share how they can better engage, including directing portion of their social responsibility towards higher education. Universities will solicit for feedback from the private sector on training, research and outreach initiatives and on best practices to engage other stakeholders. The Conference will expose young researchers to a professional gathering, their potential employers, and will provide avenues for strengthening communication and publications while keeping them aware of current development trends on the African continent. It will provide opportunities to seasoned scientists to mentor and guide the younger scientists through discussions and deliberations. It will also be an opportunity to create linkages between the diversity of stakeholders in agriculture.
Thus, the specific objectives of the conference will be to:
- Identify appropriate models and approaches to strengthen engagement between the private sector, policy and Higher Education Institutions
- Link graduate research and training to potential employers for a better understanding of the context they will work in
- Develop strategies for increasing government, National Agricultural Research Systems and Private Sector support to HAE
- Showcase RUFORUM students’ research and other cutting edge research in Africa
- Provide a networking platform for Higher Agricultural Education actors, globally with focus on African HAE
Building on the overall theme of the Conference, the following themes will underpin the Conference deliberations:
- Public private partnerships: a driver for higher education for market pathways and product uptake
- Innovation for sustainable systems within value chains that improve smallholder incomes;
- Building capacity for university research, outreach and community engagement: Integrating universities into national agricultural innovation systems
- Academic mobility, quality assurance and credit transfer across the continent: the game changers
In addition to the Conference themes, there will be parallel sessions that will include the following sub-themes:
- Linking Entrepreneurship and sustainable natural resource management
- Addressing risks associated to climate change and variability in agricultural systems
- Linking agro-forestry and wealth creation
- Sustainable intensification within smallholder crop and livestock value chains
- Strengthening gender mainstreaming to enhance agricultural productivity
- Enhancing academic mobility and internationalisation of university programs
- Strengthening community engagement and innovation platforms
- Agricultural marketing pathways, product update, trade and policy
- Reducing postharvest losses
- ICT for teaching, learning and research and knowledge management in Agricultural Higher Education.
The Conference aims to provide a platform for sharing experiences and lessons among Higher Agricultural Education stakeholders towards strengthening Higher Agricultural Education in Africa. The focus will be on postgraduate training and research and will engage postgraduate students, Vice Chancellors, Principals, Deans, and partner institutions representing research, extension and the private sector. At a glance, the Conference Program will include in plenary keynote presentations and discussions, with opportunity for key respondents, panel discussions, plenary discussions, parallel thematic sessions, poster displays, exhibitions as well as side events on issues of interest to scientists, developmental partners, policy makers and private sector of relevance to higher agricultural education. Awards will be prepared for best poster and oral presentations, as well as to recognise higher education achievers in Africa.
The Conference is co-organized with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Centre for Coordinating Agricultural Research in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), and six RUFORUM member universities in South Africa namely Stellenbosch University, University of Free State, University of Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Pretoria and University of Venda at the Century City Conference Center in Cape Town, South Africa from 17-21 October, 2016. RUFORUM will work together with partner universities (through other South African universities, AGRINATURA - Europe; and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities- USA) and other partners.
Key note presentations will provide syntheses and key lessons for improving higher education in Africa. Keynote papers will be delivered in plenary sessions on broad thematic areas relevant to the meeting overall theme. Respondents will provide additional input into key note papers. Other formats, including roundtable discussions, panel discussions and group work sessions will be used to solicit for interventions and ideas to enhance agricultural training in Africa. Organised in parallel sessions will be the scientific conferences where students and other researchers across Africa will showcase cutting edge research and innovations in sustainable agricultural systems, value chains and training. Exhibitions and poster sessions shall be organised to showcase best practices in the thematic areas of the conference. The Conference will also play host to several awards including the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize 2016 that will be held in Africa for the first time and the inaugural Young African Agri-preneurs Award (YAAA).
Outputs from the Conference shall be consolidated and participants will agree on a Communique outlining the outcomes of the Conference that will include a forward looking component towards linking agricultural universities to the private sector in Africa in the context of STISA 2024.
The following are the expected outcomes of the Conference:
- A Conference Communique highlighting key recommendation to stakeholders on strengthening higher agricultural education in Africa
- Mechanism for strengthening partnerships and collaboration between universities, private sector institutions and policy makers identified for piloting
- Cutting edge research results and relevant research in Africa profiled
- Graduate students provided with a platform to engage with practitioners to strengthen communities of practice
For more information about the Biennial Conference please contact: RUFORUM Secretariat – Dr. Moses Osiru Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with copy to email@example.com.