The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) established by 10 Vice Chancellors in 2004, is a network of 126 universities in 38 African nations spanning the Continent with a vision to create vibrant transformative universities to catalyze sustainable inclusive agricultural development to feed and create prosperity for Africa. Soon after establishment in 2004, the Network undertook a scoping study to determine the competencies, opportunities and needs of the then 10 member universities and established RUFORUM as a strong instrument for assisting the rural poor beyond food security intervention and the need to increase participation of more universities in networking. Through these support modalities, RUFORUM directly contributed in the short-term to enhanced gender equality and inclusion, and in the long-term to sustainable and inclusive agricultural and socio-economic development. As a network of Universities in Africa, RUFORUM has undertaken measures to promote inclusivity in all its operations including deliberate efforts to increase the pool of women scientists. This includes targeted support to female staff and students and raising the age limits in scholarship and grant awards. These efforts have increased female supported students from 20% Masters and 12 % PhDs in 2004 to 45% at both levels in 2018.These efforts were buttressed by supporting the founding of the Forum for Women Vice Chancellors in Africa (FAWoVC) in 2016 to encourage more women to take leadership roles and provide a platform to significantly influence the development of higher education in the Continent. Since then, FAWoVC has held three convenings that have fostered networking, lesson learning and mentorship among the female Vice Chancellors. RUFORUM has also strengthened capacity of small and fragile States to steer science technology and innovation activities through postgraduate training and research. This has been undertaken through direct support to Masters and PhD students in fragile States including Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Relatedly, through the TAGDev programme with support from the Mastercard Foundation, academically bright yet economically marginalized students from the mainstream of society have been supported to access higher education, and to-date 160 Students (110 undergraduates, 50 Masters) have been supported. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the contribution of RUFORUM to inclusiveness, an important aspect for catalyzing the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the African Union Agenda 2063.
Date of publication:
RUFORUM Working document series
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