AURA Project: Press Release
Strengthening research and teaching capabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa
The African Universities’ Research Approaches programme (AURA), led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with the Information Training & Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) and Loughborough University (LU), will work with up to nine universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to enrich the research and teaching practices of faculty working in health, agriculture and the environment. The overarching aim of the programme is to address the continent-wide goals of supporting universities to transform Africa through investments in people-centred innovations that will bring about knowledge intense economies and democratic and responsive governance.
AURA brings together the collective knowledge of researchers and educators based in the global south and north to co-create a context-specific educational framework that will improve research quality, strengthen research communication and enhance the teaching of research to students. In doing so, the programme will respond to the need for locally generated research knowledge, fostering skilled researchers and graduates. Faculty will be supported in nurturing strong research and information capabilities in research-rich learning environments.
AURA is funded by UK AID and will be implemented over the next three years. During that time the programme will produce a teaching and learning framework that will be shared with other institutions across Africa and other parts of the world. It will also develop two online e-learning courses and host three virtual learning events feeding back into the framework.
For more information about the project, see the programme contact the AURA Project Manager, Siobhan Duvigneau: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent months have seen the distribution of beta-sets of the new TEEAL. Although it continues its traditional role of providing instant access to thousands of scholarly articles in the field of agriculture and related sciences, here are some new features to look out for:
ITOCA at AHILA: 14th Biennial AHILA Congress
AHILA proudly hosted The AHILA14 conference last year in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania during 20 – 24 October 2014. The theme of the 14th AHILA Congress was:
“ICTs, access to health information and knowledge: building strong knowledge societies for sustainable development in Africa”
In the first session the keynote presentation from Prof Maria Musoke, was a tour de force encompassing the main themes of the Congress and AHILA’s role in accommodating the huge changes that have taken place in our profession.
The sub-themes of the Congress were:
These themes were taken up by the principal guest speakers – the representative for the Minister, for Health and Social Welfare and His Excellency the Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal who emphasised the importance of e-health resources in the education and practice of health care and the effects of health on poverty and the national economy.
The Congress incorporated the 2nd HIFA International Conference (Healthcare Information For All, HIFA.org), where delegates reviewed progress made since the launch of HIFA at AHILA 10 (Mombasa, Kenya, 2006) and ways forward to accelerate progress towards Healthcare Information For All in Africa and worldwide.
Highlights from Executive reports showcased the activities that have been carried out in support of AHILA objectives. AHILA’s profile has been raised in forums in Africa and Europe in the last four years. New activities in support of AHILA’s strategy on improving public access to health information (PAHI) have included: Workshops organized by Country chapters in association with IFLA & Phi in Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia & Senegal. PAHI Grants in 2013 & 2014.Commonwealth Professional Fellowships and CASP training courses for AHILA members.
Zanzibar Hosts Research4Life Workshop
The State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) hosted a Research4Life programmes workshop from 21 to 24 October 2014. This workshop was conducted by the Information Training & Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) in collaboration with Research4Life partners and SUZA.The workshop was attended by thirty three academics, researchers and librarians selected from various institutions..
The guest of honour at the workshop opening ceremony was SUZA’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration, Dr. Zakia M Abubakar In her speech, noted how access and retrieval of information in digital environment in different disciplines have become vital in enhancing the quality of learning and conducting research in institutions of higher learning. She went on to express gratitude to ITOCA and its partners for selecting SUZA as a host institution which she hoped would have the effect of raising the profile of e-resources at SUZA.
The closing and certificate giving ceremony speech was given by the University’s Director of Research, Prof. Mohammed Sheikh who again emphasized the importance of access to information to enable the creation of new knowledge by scholars. He gave an example of how PhD students are applying for funds to visit other Universities in other countries for their literature reviews stating how this is no longer necessary given the level of access to current literature given by various initiatives such as Research4Life.
Ethiopia TEEAL AGORA Workshop
TEEAL and AGORA Training-of-Trainers workshop was held in Ambo University, Ethiopia, during 10 – 12 December 2014. This workshop was conducted by the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) in collaboration with Ambo University.
The workshop was aimed at increasing the quality and effectiveness of research and education in agriculture, environment and related biological and life sciences, which would contribute towards improving food security in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and encourage cross disciplinary collaboration between agriculture, life sciences and the environment.
A total of thirty four (34) faculty, librarians, IT personnel and graduate students selected from Ambo University participated in this workshop.
The workshop was officially opened with a welcome note and remarks by Dr Tesfaye Balemi, Director, Reserch and Community Services of Ambo University. The Dean of the Collge of Agriculture and the Director of Ambo University Library has also made brief remarks about the importance of this training workshop for Ambo University. This was followed by brief remarks by Michael Chimalizeni, ITOCA’s lead facilitator. At the end of the workshop participants received certificates of participation from the Director of Reserch and Community Services of Ambo University. This was then followed by closing remarks by the Director and Michael Chimalizeni of ITOCA.
Below is a selection of quotes from feedback sent in by some workshop participants on how they felt about ITOCA’s Training-of-Trainer workshops in 2014:
“ I liked the idea of offering this near information literacy package to the direct beneficiaries (Agriculture students) despite the shortcomings. I would request that the same approach be applied for other faculties by organising user education sessions in their training areas. The workshop has been very enriching and has served as an appropriate launchpad of a more comprehensive information literacy programme as both the participating lecturers and students have turned out to be more beneficiaries. It has partially empowered, liberated and transformed students from fishmongers to fishermen.” Anonymous-Uganda Martyrs University TEEAL/AGORA Workshop
“The training is interesting and comprehensive. The resource persons have effective teaching and learning strategies. I really benefitted from the training and would use what i learnt to train my colleagues in the college.” Anonymous- Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute TEEAL/AGORA Workshop
“Gratitude is from the bottom of my heart, Am blessed to have such an opportunity and i pray that all African Universities should get this information because it is the best information that they can ever have.” Anonymous- University of Cape Coast TEEAL/AGORA Workshop
“The workshop was such an excellent learning opportunity and the facilitators did a really fantastic job in making me learn new things such as TEEAL, MENDLEY amongst others” Anonymous- Busitema University TEEAL/AGORA Workshop in Uganda
“I appreciate the organization that prepares this kind of workshops in developing countries especially in Ethiopia. because it enforces researchers, teachers and other scholars to do more valuable innovations and researches in their country.” Anonymous- Bahir Dar University TEEAL/AGORA Workshop in Ethiopia
“I feel on top the world getting to know what Research4life programmes in HINARI, AGORA OARE and ARDI can offer to improve in my research interest and as I share with ALL in my Dept and Faculty getting ALL of us EMPOWERED. CHEERS!” Anonymous- UniPort TEEAL/AGORA Workshop in Nigeria
“The workshop was absolutely useful for creating understanding of the range of R4L and TEEAL programme resources and exploring the tools that would help in the research process.” Anonymous-Uganda Christian University Research4Life Workshop in Uganda
“The practice sessions and the helpfulness of the team worker which was highly appreciated. Also, the materials which were presented in a appropriate way, and bibliography session which was marvelous.” Anonymous DAAD-Workshop in Khartoum, Sudan
“Improved my e-resource search skills and I gained insight into new other options to manage documents online.” Anonymous DAAD-Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
“This workshop has gone a long work to help improve my skills in the area of Boolean search operations and has exposed me to other new applications like Reference Managers.” Anonymous -Ibadan University R4L Workshop in Nigeria
CEPD a 21st Century Information Literacy Skills Course Set March 2015
ITOCA ‘s Continuing Education and Professional Development section is organizing a 21st Century Information Literacy Skills course during 9-12 March 2015. The course aims to equip the participant with how to acquire, and facilitate the acquisition and application of information literacy skills that are relevant for the information user in the 21st century. Highly suitable for librarians, instrumentalists, and other information professionals. For enquiries on this course please write to email@example.com or visit www.itoca.org
Upcoming Research4Life/TEEAL Workshop
Ethiopia: TEEAL/AGORA Training Course 2-4 March 2015
Ghana: TEEAL/AGORA Technical Training Course 23-25 March 2015
Tanzania: TEEAL/AGORA Training Course 20-22 April 2015
Tanzania : Research4Life/TEEAL training course 4-6 May 2015
CEPD Online Courses
ITOCA’s Continuing Education and Professional Development (CEPD) programme introduced online courses for five of its core courses towards the end of 2011. This option for e-learning has been very popular and widely accepted and has seen many professionals improve their knowledge and skills. The e-learning platform offers one an opportunity to learn in a flexible and self-paced environment as most courses are run up to 4 weeks.