About the Fifth Biennial Conference

Higher Education has been highlighted as a critical component of implementing the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024, and the African Union Agenda 2063. The RUFORUM African Higher Agricultural Education Weeks and RUFORUM Biennial Conferences, conceptually, focus on providing a platform for African Universities and other higher education stakeholders, including graduate students, to discuss and tackle ‘frontier’ issues that are critical in transforming African Universities towards enhanced relevance for development in Africa, particularly through postgraduate training. The Conferences showcase RUFORUM students’ and other cutting edge university-led research in Africa
The Fifth African Higher Agricultural Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference will be held 17-21 October 2016 in Cape Town South Africa along the theme “Linking Agricultural Universities with Civil Society, Private Sector, Governments and other Stakeholders in support of Agricultural Development in Africa”. The Conference is co-organized with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Centre for Coordinating Agricultural Research in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), and six RUFORUM member universities in South Africa namely Stellenbosch University, University of Free State, University of Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Pretoria and University of Venda. Framed in a similar fashion to previous Conferences, this Conference will build on the following key opportunities and events to provide a platform to enable universities to make use of capacities of various stakeholder organizations and institutions to strengthen higher education in Africa. In particular, the issues related to strengthening linkages with the private sector in its various forms will be tackled.

  1. The 2014 Fourth RUFORUM Biennial Conference celebrated 10 years of RUFORUM existence, and confirmed that there was great benefit for universities to collaborate, and to put in place a platform for catalyzing close engagement of African Universities in Africa’s development agenda. The meeting recognized that RUFORUM had achieved the vision of the 10 founding vice Chancellors and had grown into a dynamic regional platform that fosters collaboration, coordination and learning among the member Universities;
  2. At the same Biennial Conference (2014), RUFORUM signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the African Union Commission to support the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) and more specifically for coordinating implementation of Priority One of STISA 2024 on ‘Eradication of Hunger and Achieving Food Security’. The MoU with the African Union signaled the intention by RUFORUM to increase its geographical coverage to the entire African Continent and strengthened its collaboration and partnership with the African Union. RUFORUM has since put in place an implementation strategy and framework for STISA 2024 Priority One and relevant reporting tools;
  3. The First African Higher Education Conference in Africa was held 8-10 March, 2015 and called for, among others, African Union Heads of State and Government to identify from among themselves, a committee of 10 champions for strengthening education, science and technology in Africa. The Committee of ten ‘Champions’ was established during the 2015 July Heads of State and Government summit in South Africa. RUFORUM Vice Chancellors played an important role in this process, having discussed extensively higher education issues with Her Excellency, the Chair of the African Union Commission, who was a keynote speaker at the Fourth Biennial Conference in Maputo, Mozambique. Her Excellency delivered on her promise to strengthen engagement of higher education institutions with policy at the Highest Level. The Committee of Heads of State will provide an important platform for engagement with African Universities and RUFORUM, including to follow through on the outcomes of the Fifth Biennial Conference;
  4.   The African Union declared 2016, the African Year of Human Rights. Education was clearly highlighted as a ‘human right’. Higher Education in particular was recognized as important for strengthening the entire education sector, and improving the quality of teachers at various levels; 
  5. RUFORUM leadership approved the RUFORUM Business Plan 2015-2020, which is providing guidance and focus to RUFORUM Strategic operations to 2020. The Plan positions RUFORUM in relation to other regional and sub-regional partners from the African scientific community as well as university based networks and international partners. A key approach will be on platforms for national and continental integration of Research for Development (R4D) and as a backbone for university interaction while strengthening national university capacity to work with research, business, and development partners to transform ideas into innovations. 

While the official Conference will be held from Tuesday 18 to Friday 21 October, Pre-conference events will be organized for RUFORUM organs and other side meetings. Reeta Roy, President of the MasterCard Foundation will deliver a key note address on Sunday 16 October at an evening function hosted by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, together with RUFORUM. The RUFORUM Board of Trustees, the Committee of Principals and Deans; The Technical Committee, the International advisory Panel and the RUFORUM Annual General Meeting will hold their statutory meetings. A Vice Chancellors Forum on leadership and management and two trainings for University Principals and Deans on curriculum development (organized with Harvard University in the United States) and on Gender in collaboration with African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) will be organized to enhance capacities of the network to perform efficiently. Stellenbosch University will play a lead role in organizing an Executive Discussion Forum that will engage Business Leaders from South Africa in line with the Conference themes. The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations will hold its annual meeting on Monday 17th October, 2016. Other pre-conference events will involve graduate students: the Social Media Training for Graduate Students; The Stellenbosch University –RUFORUM Graduate Event; Graduate Students Skills Enhancement Meeting; and project specific student meetings (USAID Feed the Future iAGRI Project, Carnegie Foundation of New York Project and the EU-ACP funded ADECEA project). RUFORUM Graduates and beneficiaries will consider how to support current and future students and launch the RUFORUM Alumni Association. 

                                                                                      Download the Conference Concept Note

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