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    017   nodumo 017 nodumo Document Transcript

    • ASARECA1 Region Experiences in Capacity Building for Agricultural Information and Communication Management Nodumo Dhlamini Programme Manager - ICT Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture Kampala, Uganda Email: n.dhlamini@ruforum.org Dr. Washington Ochola Programme Manager - Monitoring and Evaluation Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture Kampala, Uganda Joan Apio Programme Assistant - ICT Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture Kampala, UgandaAbstractInformation and Communication Management (ICM) and knowledge management (KM) areamong the fastest growing academic fields, yet they continue to draw little investment comparedto other fields in agriculture (Mukhebi, 2007). In the study conducted for RAIN2 / ASARECA,Mwang’ombe et al (2007) argue that research in Africa is generating agricultural technologiesthat can improve food security but the impact is yet to be felt in Sub-Sahara African households.They contend that appropriate ICM is necessary to support food security by facilitatingagricultural research and technology uptake. The postgraduate Master of Science in AgriculturalInformation and Communication Management is being implemented by three RUFORUM3member universities since 2008. This paper traces the original objectives of the program and1 Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa2 Regional Agricultural Information Network3 Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture1|Page
    • attempts to highlight some of the success stories, opportunities and lessons experienced duringimplementation of the post-graduate programme. The paper aims to answer the followingquestions: 1. Has the programme produced competent AICM experts with intended competencies? 2. Has the programme strengthened capacities of universities to provider higher levels of research and education in AICM? Has the programme enhanced the competency of agricultural researchers and other development workers in AICM? 3. How well has the programme linked to the AICM needs of the agricultural sector? 4. What have been some of the implementations challenges? 5. What is the future for the AICM Programme?Keywords: Agricultural Information and Communication Management; Information andCommunication Management; Information and Communication Management; KnowledgeManagementBackgroundIn 2003 the Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN) was established as a programmefor the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa(ASARECA) and was funded by the European Union (EU) through the European DevelopmentFund (8th EDF). During the priority setting exercise for RAIN, the network membersunanimously agreed that enhancing skills in ICM in Eastern and Central Africa (ECA) was themost important problem-solving area that RAIN should focus on. Consequently, RAINconducted a regional study to assess human resource capacities and training needs in Eastern andCentral Africa (ECA). The development of the Master of Science in Agricultural Informationand Communication Management (MSc AICM) programme was strongly supported by thefindings of this training needs assessment (TNA) undertaken by RAIN in 2005. It wasestablished that:1. Agricultural professionals of all cadres in the ASARECA region with AICM skills were few or lacking. More specifically, agricultural researchers, educators and technologists in national agricultural research systems (NARIs), universities and extension services lacked skills that could make them self-sufficient in meeting basic information needs to generate and disseminate technology. Deficiencies were noted in specific areas including digitized or electronic content; geographical information systems (GIS); developing and managing databases; editing scientific manuscripts; graphic design and desktop publishing; managing research data; using the Internet to receive and disseminate information; and managing ICT/ICM technology and networks.2|Page
    • 2. Agricultural research results are not known or effectively transmitted to the international research community. As a result, African concerns do not drive the international research agenda. African research is not published and does not feature in international research abstracts. The rate of scientific journals published in Africa, therefore, is quite low and insignificant in the world research arena. There is also a scarcity of trained professional scientific editors capable of assisting African scientists to get their papers and other literature published in international refereed journals.Later RAIN studies established that existing university programmes did not have adequateICT/ICM content, explaining the low ICT/ICM competency among graduates. Programmesfocusing on AICM training at university level did not exist, and there was a growing recognitionthat ICM was emerging as a ‘new’ profession in development.In 2007 the implementation of the MSc AICM programme was handed over to the RegionalUniversities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). Three RUFORUMmember universities are currently offering this programme and they are Egerton University(Kenya), University of Nairobi (Kenya) and Haramaya University (Ethiopia). The experienceswith the MSc AICM show a clear need for this programme and obvious opportunities forpartnering with other organisations in order to improve the quality of the programme.Literature ReviewThe agricultural sector remains a very important segment of African economies (Omilola et all,2010, p.2).The RAIN study of 2007 (p. xvii) stated that research in Africa was generating agriculturaltechnologies that could improve food security but the impact was yet to be felt in sub-saharaAfrican households. Therefore appropriate information and communication management wasnecessary to support food security by facilitating agricultural research and technology uptake.Agricultural degree programmes were found lacking in terms of appropriate content for buildingskills to understand, package and communicate the developments in the agricultural sector.Mason et all (1973, p.1), define information as knowledge for the purpose of taking effectiveaction. In the same light, the management of agricultural information is therefore important fordecision-making.3|Page
    • Implementation Status of the MSc AICM ProgrammeThe implementation of Intake # and Total # of No of Females No of Malesthe AICM programme Year Studentswas assigned toRUFORUM in 2008.To date EgertonUniversity (Kenya),University of Nairobi(Kenya) and HaramayaUniversity (Ethiopia)are currentlyimplementing the MScAICM programme.Makerere University isdue to implement theprogramme in 2012.Please see below theprogress made to dateby the 3universities:Name ofUniversityUniversity of Nairobi 1st - 2008 10 4 6 2nd – 2009 12 4 8 3rd - 2010 11 4 7 4th - 2011 13 6 7Regional Representation All KenyansTotal Graduated Four graduated in 2011Funding Profile of Students are self –sponsoredStudentsDelivery of Program MSc AICM Programme delivered as a part-time weekend and or evening programme. Participants are full time employees. 4|Page
    • Name of University Intake # and Year Total # of Students No of Females No of MalesEgerton University 1st - 2008 14 5 9 2nd – 2009 9 5 4 3rd - 2010 3 1 2 4th - 2011 7 3 4Regional Representation DRC, Ethiopia, , Kenya,Tanzania , Sudan, Uganda, ZimbabweTotal Graduated Three graduated in 2011Funding Profile of The 1st intake was financed under the DFID funded SCARDA project and some wereStudents funded from RUFORUM sources. The second and third intakes were funded from other means identified by the students.Delivery of Program MSc AICM Programme delivered as a full-time regular semester programme. Participants are fresh post Bachelor students or employees on study leave.Name of University Intake # and Year Total # of Students No of Females No of MalesHaramaya University 1 st - 2010 (Regular) 13 2 11 st 1 - 2010 (Summer In 13 1 12 Service)Regional Representation All EthiopianTotal Graduated None YetFunding Profile of Students are sponsored by the Ethiopian Government and RUFORUM for theirStudents researchDelivery of Program MSc AICM Programme delivered in two ways: as a full-time regular semester programme and also as summer vacation programme. Some of the participants are full time employees. Discussions 1. To date at least 85 AICM professionals have been trained by the three universities. Some of these have graduated and others are at the research phase of their academic work. And additional 20 have just commenced their studies as part of the 4th intakes to the programme. Therefore the objective has been partially met - the initial plan was to have all the 9 ASRECA countries implement the AICM program by 2012. The plan was grand and ambitious – targeting 180 students being admitted annually in the 9 countries over 5 years. 2. There is a need to carry out a tracer study to be able to say that the programme has produced competent AICM experts with intended competencies. There is also a need to carry out a tracer study to be able to say that the programme has enhanced the competency of agric researchers and other development workers in AICM. 3. Capacity building for universities has been in the area of e-learning and e-content development. To date 15 AICM modules have been converted to e-format and 8 have 5|Page
    • been uploaded on the RUFORUM moodle system. Due to funding limitations, we have been unable to build the capacity of PhD level AICM professionals to teach on this programme. 4. Ideally the research agenda of the AICM students must be tightly knit to the gaps and needs of the agricultural sector in terms of AICM. We need to support staff and student exchanges and seminars to strengthen the linkages. 5. Marketing of the AICM programme could be improved to attract more students and support for the programme.ConclusionsThe need for this programme is not disputed. Through its implementation key lessons have beenlearnt and these can be used to further improve the programme. Clearly for us to achieve the goalof food security we need to invest in capacity building for the management and communicationof agricultural information and knowledge.Interest has been shown by some universities in the Caribbean and Pacific regions to implementthe programme. There are opportunities to engage with key stakeholders in the following areas: A. Joint Fund-raising for AICM capacity building. Additional financial resources would assist those who are in financial need and would like to undertake the training. Support is also needed for research and related practical training in the area of AICM. B. The development of AICM teaching materials is an important and pending activity. The area of AICM is lacking in terms of teaching materials, textbooks, case studies and other resources. C. The development of e-learning content and building capacities for e-learning continues to provide opportunities for improving the quality of the delivery and also increasing access to the programme. D. AICM is a new and emerging field. The agricultural faculty need their capacity to be built so that they are able to deliver quality training for AICM. We need to provide opportunities for training at module, certificate and PhD levels. E. The value of staff exchanges and student learning internships cannot be underestimated. There are opportunities for engaging with AICM faculty and students through tailored AICM seminars and learning internships with strategic agricultural institutions. F. The area of AICM Research would be richer and more relevant if the other stakeholders were to be engaged in mapping the research themes together with the universities. There is an evident need to support the development of the research6|Page
    • themes, supervision of the research and financial support for carrying out of the research. MSc AICM research needs to be well integrated into agricultural value chain systems in order to add value to solving real agricultural information and communication management problems.References Leeuwis, C. and Van den Ban, A. (eds) (2007) Fmatter, in Communication for Rural Innovation: Rethinking Agricultural Extension, Third Edition, Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470995235.fmatter Mason, R.O. and Mitroff, I.I. (1973), A program for Research on Management Information Systems, Management Science Vol 19, No. 5, January 1973, www.businessinformatic.com/mason-mitroff-inf.pdf (p 1) Omilola, B.; Yade, M.; Karugia, J.; and Chilonda, P. 2010. Monitoring and Assessing Targets of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and the First Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in Africa. ReSAKSS Working Paper # 31. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (p.2). http://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/2431/RESAKSS_WP31.pdf?sequence=1 RAIN, ASARECA Secretariat (2007), Prospectus: Regional Postgraduate Programme for Enhancement of Skills in AICM7|Page