Makerere in a new project deal with USAID and MSU
Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences(CAES) is in advance stages of negotiation to start a new program for capacity building to be funded by USAID and Michigan State University(MSU) starting October 2013.
Following several meetings the college management, USAID and MSU representatives, agreed on five main areas of priority in their last meeting held on October 4, 2012.
These areas include Policy Analysis, Entrepreneurship and Business development, Sanitary and Phyto- sanitary (SPS), Climate Change and Nutrition. A team of three namely Denis Mpairwe, Dr. Mnason Tweheyo and Prof. John Muyonga were appointed as contact persons for the project. The latter, Prof. Muyonga is to coordinate.
Ag. Principal Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa (L) chairing the meeting
USAID representative Clara Cohen said it was agreed in principle that the program would take the form of sandwich for PhD allowing people to do research in Uganda and going back to US. “The program will support institutional capacity needs for research within USAID priority areas and will be designed to suit the college needs. For instance the program would have instructors from USA work with instructors in Makerere depending on what choice that will be valuable.” He said
Head of delegation MSU, Eric Crawford said the program would like to make a difference by focusing on areas that will make impact and to enable Makerere run locally sustainable programs in building capacities of her staff in the long run.
Some of the delegates during the meeting
“The first round of funding will take 5 years with support to 10 Masters but the college will be free to do a trade off by reducing MSc to support 5 PhD and One MSc. Student”.
He said the approach will involve identifying programs that are cost effective, invite applications from suitable candidates, to be reviewed by experts in US and a local selection committee “The admission will be competitive, advertised and conducted by a local selection committee where prospective candidates will have a choice of the institutions.”
Speaking during the meeting, Ag. Principal Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa described the project as important for developing human capacity in the college geared towards addressing emerging needs in agriculture and environmental related challenges.
Some of CAES staff during the meeting
“The college will set up a small group that will put thoughts together on paper to enrich what has been discussed, think of the program design that will also incorporate USAID support to institutional reforms, curriculum planning and infrastructure development.” He said.
Michigan State University Gender specialist Nathalie M Me- Nsope, expressed the need for gender considerations in the program to train women who can analyze agricultural policy from a gender perspective or identify programs that create synergy.
However, it was observed that attaining a 50 to 50% gender balance was abit difficult due to cultural and reproductive roles of women who often shun opportunities to study away from their families, restrictions on class degree for PhD and qualification to become a staff member, calling for gender sensitivity when structuring the new program.
It was unanimously agreed that a mechanism be put in place to support female candidates by providing more comfortable learning and long term engagement after studies like extra financial support to do more research.
It was agreed that mentoring be incorporated into the program to attract more women and enhance understanding of gender studies. Other considerations were adopting a semester system with MSc program of one year and PhD of 2-3 years with some additional trips for female students to get in touch with their families and to proactively advertise the issue of ladies at 50 to 50% ratios.
The program will be implemented in five countries including Ghana, Malawi, Bangladesh Mozambique and Uganda. The First group will start in October 2013 and therefore require the team to ensure it is through with the focus areas and the design to start feeding universities with information.
The negotiating USAID and MSU team included Head delegation of Michigan State University Eric Crawford, USAID Agri Officer John Brighenti, USAID office of Agricultural Research Bureau for Food Security Clara Cohen, Michigan State University Gender specialist Nathalie M Me- Nsope, USAID /Washington Ag. Officer Samba Kawa, Coordinator Africa –US Higher education Initiative Association of Public Land Grant Anne Claire Hervy, Professor of Food science and Nutrition Michigan State University Fred Derksen and USAID representative in Kampala, Simon Byabagambi.