The importance of addressing capacity gaps to enable Africa to achieve its 6% sustainable growth in agriculture has been widely articulated within Africa and explicitly addressed in the Communique from the Ministerial Conference on Higher Education in Agriculture in Africa (CHEA, Kampala, 18th November 2010). The need to invest in a radical transformation of the tertiary agricultural education (TAE) system to ensure that they can meet these needs has been highlighted in the Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) and has resulted, through a series of workshops and discussions, in the development of TEAM-Africa – the Tertiary Education for Agriculture Mechanism in Africa.
This Mechanism has been established to facilitate the integration of TAE into CAADP processes and plans, to catalyze change in TAE institutions to produce graduates able to identify, analyze, and resolve real-world problems, and to mobilize and harmonize investments to achieve the critical mass needed to meet these needs. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE) will be key implementing partners – with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) being a key facilitating partner of TEAM-Africa.
A meeting addressing academic experts, Development Partners (DPs) and African TAE-leaders took place in Ås, Norway in October 2011, at which the `TAE Partnership´ was launched. This partnership was initiated to mobilize broad support for TEAM-Africa in its efforts to raise the profile of investment in TAE transformation and to coordinate and articulate ways to foster collaboration and harmonization of TAE initiatives in Africa. A follow-up meeting was held in Wageningen, in March 2012 which brought together an ever-wider group of academic institutions, networks and DPs from Europe, the US and Africa. The main purpose of this 2nd TAE Partnership workshop was to provide an opportunity for development partners and African stakeholders to articulate the importance of TAE transformation to development; to share experiences and discuss lessons learned from past and current programs of support to TAE in Africa; to better understand the TEAM-Africa concept and Africa’s plans for reforming TAE and how best to support them; and to establish a joint work program outlining concrete actions for the TAE Partnership to increase coordination and alignment of DPs´ support for TAE in Africa. The meeting also provided the opportunity to introduce the recently appointed Coordinator for TEAM-Africa (*).
Participants agreed that the hallmark of TEAM-Africa is to coalesce networks, alliances, and consortia to bring high-leverage economies of scale to transforming TAE in Africa to meet the CAADP goals in a way that dramatically reduces poverty.
TEAM-Africa´s objectives are in line with this perception:
- To help facilitate and guide the transformation of African tertiary institutions, in line with the FAAP principles and within the framework of CAADP;
- To raise the profile of TAE and enhance its value-contribution to economic development;
- To increase the overall level of financial and technical support to TAE in Africa; and
- To bring greater coherence to investments for TAE in Africa.
Consequently, TEAM-Africa is planning to:
- (i) Articulate a shared strategic vision for TAE transformation and capacity building in Africa;
- (ii) Provide information for priority setting in investments in TAE to all interested parties but especially to DPs and African TAE institutions;
- (iii) Provide guidance on best approaches to transformation and investment in TAE;
- (iv) Work to integrate TAE into CAADP Investment Plans;
- (v) Do all of the above, while promoting common principles of support to TAE working through and strengthening existing and promising new TAE networks.
Guiding principles on how to work together with African partners for more effective engagement in transforming TAE were developed in working groups and in the plenary sessions and are incorporated in this Workshop Report.
They emphasize those elements that are necessary to further the spirit of the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action and that are rooted in good practice, leading to more sustainable initiatives. These guidelines are specific to TAE and form the basis for engagement with TEAM-Africa. These principles apply to all partners – donors and DPs, including northern universities and consortia – in their efforts to transform TAE in Africa. The principles specific to the African partners were not directly addressed in the meeting and are still to be developed through TEAM-Africa.
The meeting agreed that the TAE-Partnership and the two workshops in Ås and in Wageningen provided an opportunity to begin to better collaborate, to start joint mapping and analysis exercises, and to start implementing more coordinated initiatives for TAE in some initial countries including Tanzania, and Benin.
A cross-country collaboration among horticultural professionals wishing to strengthen TAE in that area was also noted, as well as many more concrete steps as outlined in the full report. The TAE-Partnership agreed to continue to raise awareness on TAE and TEAM-Africa, to work together to support the integration of the defined principles and to promote greater collaboration within existing and future activities. TEAM-Africa will be formulating its vision and strategy and will validate these widely in Africa, while at the same time working with FARA, RUFORUM, and ANAFE to sensitize TAE institutions on the type of transformation needed and on how to begin pursuing this through the CAADP process.
In Wageningen, the TAE-Partnership expressed their commitment to support TEAM-Africa, as requested, in designing the Strategic Plan for TAE in Africa, and, in later phases, implementing its vision and strategy. A concrete list of action points in the near- and medium-term future was developed and is presented in the final section of this report.
(*) A website for the TAE-Partnership workshops was established. Relevant documents relating to the TAE-Partnership can be found on that website. Going forward, the website might be revised to become a useful tool for the members. The current address is as follows: http://www.tae.wur.nl/UK/