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African varsities launch courses to develop skills

Prof Enos Njeru from University of Nairobi

The Partnership for Africa’s Next Generation of Academics (PANGeA) has launched a new training and skills development programme, PANGeA-Ed, after a four-day meeting of the partnership’s board in Kampala.

At the launch at Makerere University recently, Prof Edward Kirumira, principal of Makerere’s college of Humanities and Social Sciences and chairman of PANGeA, hailed PANGeA-Ed as high-quality short courses and workshops in research and skills development, intended to train trainers, that will cover the eight partnering universities, and at no cost to the individual.

The three-day intensive courses will cover principles of research design, research ethics, understanding social research, mixed research methods, scientific writing skills and research methodology, among others.

The partnership was formed in 2010 to strengthen higher education in Africa through collaborative research and exchange, and doctoral training and scholarship in the arts, humanities and social sciences in Africa.

Kirumira said the eight partner universities – Makerere, Dar es Salaam, Stellenbosch, Nairobi, Ghana, Malawi, Yaounde I and Botswana – are just front-desk institutions that influence other universities because of their own networks on the continent. The doctorate programme is housed by Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Kirumira revealed that although their doctoral scholarship has since 2010 nominated 66 doctoral candidates, 36 of whom have already completed and resumed their academic positions at their home universities and 81 per cent completed in three or less years, the board last year decided to explore other ways of producing more high-grade human capital and improving skills and careers of staff.

Hence the training and skills programme will be conducted at partner universities and be based on the institution’s needs. Observing that oftentimes fresh PhD graduates are instantly put in administrative positions without training in administration, Kirumira said their doctoral programme includes training in leadership and administration.

“Twenty per cent of the 36 PhD graduates have already been placed in administrative positions. See, we give our donor partners the confidence that we will deliver to their expectations.

“Despite the several achievements so far, we will continue with our fundraising trips to governments, corporations and foundations,” he said.

Prof Enos Njeru, principal of college of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Nairobi, said the consortium will assist Africa by replenishing the professoriates, raising the academic quality of staff at all higher education levels and promoting knowledge-based economic growth through increased and more meticulous research.

Michael Hanssler, chairman of Gerda Henkel foundation, disclosed that his foundation and Robert Bosch foundation will fund 50 short courses and workshops of PANGeA-Ed over the next five years.

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