The POCA/DOSA (Participatory Organisational Capacity Assessment/Discussion-Oriented Self-Assessment Index Tool) was used to assess the performance of the RUFORUM Secretariat and seven sampled Universities in relation to six capacity dimensions: governance and oversight; leadership style and management practices; external relations and partnering; service/program delivery practices; financial management practices and human capital development practices. The POCA assessment exercise for organisations serves a variety of purposes. The main objective is to facilitate a process where staff, leaders and beneficiaries of the network get an opportunity to identify the strengths and shortcomings of the organization and to establish possible intervention strategies. It is also a diagnostic instrument to determine the measure of the existing structure and capacity that may serve as a point of comparison for subsequent assessments. The assessment therefore determines the stages of the organizational growth and specific changes that may be needed to strengthen its performance. The performance of individual components was summarized by simple tabulation and graphical illustration. Classification using a 5-level Capacity Maturity Framework (CMF) identified the areas of weakness to be targeted for capacity development. The analysis generally indicated relatively stabilised processes that are being consolidated, although the scores varied from one component to another. Of interest is the fact that the RUFORUM and its member universities have a comparatively low sustainability rating because of donor and/or government dependence for funding and narrow income base. Strong institutions, the formal and informal rules that structure and constrain human behavior and interaction, help RUFORUM and the member universities focus on relevant actions, fully engage with partners and stakeholders in the teaching, research and outreach processes and the subsequent use of products and services to achieve outcomes. However, many challenges still exist for both the Universities as individual entities and for RUFORUM as a network. Critically important is the low level of resourcing and low investment in activities to strengthen and/or reform processes that can seriously impair the sustainability and credibility of the supported grant and regional training programmes. The Secretariat is intervening directly through grant support for skills development of staff and researchers, while for others it focusses on influencing policy and internal processes for creating, adopting, leading, implementing and sustaining change initiatives towards achievement of objectives. It is generally recommended that RUFORUM and its member universities adopt the POCA methodology and strive to maintain the strong elements identified through these assessments and seek for opportunities to address the identified weaknesses.
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RUFORUM Working document series