Over seventy health, education, gender, ICT and development academics from 13 partner universities in the Irish-African Partnership for Research Capacity Building (IAPRCB) gathered for a week of deliberation and exchange in a workshop hosted by Makerere University in Entebbe, Uganda from November 10th to 13th 2008. The Centre for Cross Border Studies is the administrative leader of the IAPRCB.
The IAPRCB is a three year pilot programme funded by Irish Aid (through its Programme of Strategic Cooperation with Higher Education and Research Institutes) and Universities Ireland, and brings together all nine universities on the island of Ireland and four universities in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in a high-level partnership to build a coordinated approach to research capacity building for poverty reduction among the partner institutions. The Entebbe workshop, which was opened by Professor Livingston S Luboobi, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University and Mr Kevin Kelly, the Irish Ambassador to Uganda, is the second in a series of five which will take place in 2008-2010. The IAPRCB was launched in April 2008 by Irish President Mary McAleese at the opening workshop in Dublin City University.
|Left to right, former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, Professor Eli Katunguka-Rwakishaya, Professor Livingstone Luboobi, VC Makerere University, and His Excellency Kevin Kelly, Irish Ambassador to Uganda|
peaking at the workshop, Professor John Hegarty, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, said this was a unique initiative, in that it had brought together the nine Irish universities in a joint project for the first time, and had the potential to build unprecedented and mutually beneficial relationships between Irish and African universities over a 10 year period. He commented on the passion for collaboration and mutual learning that was clearly evident among the participants, noting that such passion was vital to the project’s success. The Chair of the IAPRCB International Advisory Board, the former Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dick Spring, also addressed the workshop.
|IAPRCP Co-Chair Professor Jane Grimson and delegates at the Entebbe workshop|
During the four days, the participants developed a set of core partnership and research capacity building principles through which the IAPRCB and its thematic sub-networks can evolve. Drawing on field research carried out by project staff on opportunities for and constraints to research capacity building in all 13 partner universities, together with presentations by health and education specialists from the four African partner universities, and employing the innovative methodology of foresight, participants identified key priorities in health and education research in their institutions over the next 10 years.
|Students of Music, Drama and Dance from Makerere University at a reception hosted by Professor Luboobi, Makerere University|
These will be further developed by working groups in the coming months in preparation for the next workshop which will be hosted by the Universidad Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique in May 2009. Following a visit to Makerere University in Kampala to meet academics in the fields of health, education and gender, it was agreed to include gender as a third pillar within the project, together with health and education, rather than simply as a cross-cutting issue as heretofore. The work on this component will be led by Makerere’s Department of Gender and Women’s Studies in collaboration with the project’s African partners.
While researchers at both Irish and African partner universities face serious challenges to multidisciplinary ways of working, the quality and depth of engagement displayed by the diverse range of participants at the Entebbe workshop show that the overcoming of such challenges can bring huge benefits to all the participating universities and the societies that they serve.
Further information on the Irish-African Partnership for Research Capacity Building can be obtained from the project website:www.irishafricanpartnership.ie or by contacting the Project Director, Dr Niamh Gaynor at email@example.com or Dublin (00-353-1) 700-5637.