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A two-day stakeholder engagement forum focused on providing the platform to explore opportunities for enhancing the collection, consolidation, and management of secure quality data to boost evidence-based policy making in higher education and research was organised in Entebbe, Uganda, from September 1-2, 2022.
Hosted by the Inter Universities Council for East Africa (IUCEA) a consortium member of the Demographics of African Faculty Project (DAF II), the forum brought together key higher education stakeholders from the seven East African Community (EAC) member states – Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. Specifically, participants were persons/technical staff responsible for data management and research from the councils and commissions for higher education; persons/technical staff responsible for data management in higher education and research from the ministries of education; technical officers from the commissions for science, innovation, and technology; relevant research organizations involved in data and policy research and the DAF II Research Consortium partners among others.
The Demographics of African Faculty consortium consist of the Association of African Universities (AAU), the IUCEA, the Education Sub-Saharan Africa and the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). The project seeks to systematically analyse the staffing challenges in sub-Saharan Africa – with a first phase conducted in Ghana in 2018, while the second phase (DAF II) which is currently ongoing and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is focusing on strengthening the ability of higher education stakeholders to plan and implement evidence-informed responses targeted at improving the numbers and nature of quality faculty within Higher Education Institutions in the East African Community. As a consortium partner to the DAF II project, the Association of African Universities’ (AAU), participated in the Entebbe forum in line with its role in the project. AAU’s multi faceted role under DAF II include working with the partners in conducting the background research, facilitating stakeholder engagements, disseminating project findings to stakeholders in the EAC and beyond through multiple digital and non-digital channels among others.
Officially opening the two-day stakeholder forum, the honourable minister of state for higher education of the Republic of Uganda, Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo reiterated the need to strengthen collaboration among key players – government, higher education institutions and the private sector to foster quality generation, management, and utilisation of data for planning purposes.
Additionally, the forum featured remarks and keynote presentations on important topics by various institutions, including the IUCEA; the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO); the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) and the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTs).
The forum also provided the platform for the EAC country researchers engaged under the DAF II project to share the preliminary country status and data collection insights related to the nature of the faculty challenges with the participants, for their input. This engagement session and involvement of the stakeholders was important in ensuring that high quality research findings to foster accurate projections and insights for effective decision making is produced by the DAF II project.
Again, the event featured a presentation on ‘the attributes and aspirations of IUCEA’s Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), and engaged stakeholders for input towards ensuring a robust and effective system which serves the needs of stakeholders in the EAC and beyond.
Following a presentation by the DAF II consortium, another discussion item that featured prominently at the forum was on ‘the Impact of Covid-19 on Teaching Models and the Supply and Demand of Faculty in the East African Community’.
In a highly participatory manner, the forum also created the very important platform for participants to engage with key issues and to work in groups on the thematic focus and themes of importance to the forum’s objective.
The two-day stakeholder engagement forum ended on a positive note with a refreshed commitment by all participating stakeholders and institutions to deepen collaborations to accelerate the strengthening of data management in higher education and research for the benefit of the East African Community.