FAO shares capacity development approach and e-learning methodologies with the academia in Africa

© FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri

16/01/2023 - 

"Universities in Africa have a crucial role to play in strengthening the capacities of African countries, enabling them to achieve their national development goals and ultimately contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and agrifood systems transformations", said Justin Chisenga, FAO Capacity Development Office and Team Leader - Partnerships with Academia and Research Institutions at the 20th Principals and Deans Business Meeting, held on 15 December 2022, a side event at the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) on the theme "Strengthening Africa's Agri-food Systems in the Post COVID-19 Era - Opportunities and Challenges", held in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 12 to 16 December 2022.


Nearly 1,000 participants attended the RUFORUM AGM 22, including Ministers of Education, University Vice-Chancellors, Principals and Deans, lecturers, researchers, graduate and post-doctoral students from across Africa.


At the AGM, FAO shared its approach to capacity development and elearning methodologies with the African academia. Speaking on FAO’s approach to capacity development at the Principals and Deans Business Meeting, Chisenga emphasized the importance of addressing capacities issues across three dimensions: individuals, institutions, and the enabling environment (i.e., policies and legal frameworks), using several different modalities, and working with stakeholders at local and national levels to ensure the sustainability of the interventions and results.


Furthermore, FAO, with its elearning Academy, supports member countries via capacity development interventions and elearning courses to strengthen the human capital, through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies to generate competent professionals able to face global challenges. It offers over 500 multilingual self-paced e-learning courses, free of charge, as a global public good.


“Through its partnership with RUFORUM, FAO is ready to work and share with universities in Africa experience and expertise in developing e-learning courses, and facilitate the integration of some of its courses into the universities’ curricula”, said Cristina Petracchi, Team Leader of the FAO elearning Academy, in her presentation on the work of the Academy at a hybrid session on “Harnessing Digital Technologies for Teaching, Research and Learning” on 14 December 2022.


RUFORUM Knowledge Hub Manager, Francis Otto, welcomed FAO’s offer to support RUFORUM and its member universities to develop capacities to deliver e-learning courses.


“RUFORUM Secretariat will work closely with the FAO elearning Academy to develop capacities of less endowed RUFORUM member universities to develop and deliver e-learning courses. RUFORUM wishes to tap on FAO’s experience on implementation of the FAO elearning Academy to help in operationalization of its newly established regional e-learning platform”, said Otto.


The FAO elearning Academy’s pedagogical models and methodology for developing e-learning materials are documented in the publication, E-learning methodologies and good practices: A guide for designing and delivering e-learning solutions from the FAO elearning Academy, second edition, of which 200 copies were distributed to participants during the AGM.

In addition to the capacity development approach and elearning methodologies, FAO participation in the RUFORUM AGM also included an exhibition focusing on the Access to Global Online Agricultural Research in Agriculture (AGORA), one of the five programmes under the Research4Life Initiative through which institutions in low- and middle-income countries have online access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content.


FAO recognizes the critical role high-quality scientific information plays in advancing higher education and improving academic research. As part of its mandate, FAO facilitates access to a wealth of information on food and agriculture, aiming to improve teaching, research, and policymaking. Through AGORA, universities and research institutions in Africa can access, for free or at low-cost, to major subscription-based scientific journals and e-books in food, agriculture, fisheries, nutrition, veterinary science, environmental science, and related social sciences.


FAO’s participation in the AGM was carried under the framework of its partnership with RUFORUM, which was formalized in October 2017 through a Memorandum of Understanding. More information on the partnership is available here.


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