Graduate Opportunities for Innovation and Transformation (GO4IT) helped train university students in Africa to bring change to rural areas. The initiative was born of the understanding that universities needed to improve the quality and content of their agricultural education programmes. KIT Royal Tropical Institute played a key role in defining and driving the strategy for change.
Practical, innovative training
GO4IT’s main activity was the development of mid-career short courses on facilitating innovation through multi-stakeholder collaboration. Project partners believed that this was important in making professionals more effective at fostering change in rural areas. These mid-career courses introduced new practices into universities, and spread them to participating professionals and their employers.
Find gaps and understand stakeholders’ demands
Demand analysis and skills gaps studies were conducted in all three countries (Kenya, Malawi, Uganda) to find gaps in university curricula, and to understand stakeholders’ demands. The findings fed into the course design, and were also used to help engage with non-university actors.
Core group of lecturers
The partners in the project, led by KIT, developed, peer reviewed, and tested a set of modules organised around four blocks. A core group of lecturers was trained to conduct the mid-career course, and train other lecturers and postgraduate students within the three universities.
This initial core group was to include only 3-4 teachers per university, but – mostly due to the enthusiasm the themes generated – each university ended up with about 10-15 teachers. These lecturers acted as ‘champions’ within their university, removing barriers, and engaging others so that the project could be successfully implemented.
Action learning framework
In the first training cohort, 71 professionals from government ministries, the private sector, civil society and universities were trained. The course was structured around an ‘action learning framework’ that contained practical assignments – two-month long ‘learning intervals’ – that took place between week-long ‘theoretical training’ blocks.
A second cohort was trained in Uganda, and, in addition, MSc and PhD students were trained in Uganda and Kenya using the same curriculum.
KIT, together with The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), led the joint analysis of the project. We also supported university staff to make the project’s successes clearer to them and their organisations.