|DRUSSA Fellowship Programme links Universities and Ministries in Uganda|
|Monday, 13 July 2015 10:42|
The DRUSSA Fellowship programme has been in place for six months and is proving to be a worthwhile initiative. We share the experiences of three fellows in Uganda based on articles written for a dedicated blogspot and a further interview with Annabella Habinka, one of the Fellows.
Effective and sustainable Research Uptake includes both demand-side and supply-side activities that facilitate and contribute to the use of research evidence by policymakers. One part of the DRUSSA Programme is an initiative that aims to build linkages between ministries and academic institutions. A Fellowship programme where academics are seconded to government departments for an extended period has been set up. Knowledge and skills are being learned and shared and linkages are being made between these ministries and academic institutions and over time the linkages will provide the ministries with better access to and information about the research that is being conducted at universities and how it can be used in the policy process.
In Uganda a number of Fellows have already spent some time in the ministries that match their academic specialization. Dr Annabella Habinka, from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is a Fellow at the Ministry of Education, Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe from Makerere University is at the Ministry of Agriculture and Eng. Dr Albert Rugumayo from Ndejje University is placed in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. All three Fellows have reported positive experiences, both on their part but also on the part of the ministries they are working in.
One way of sharing research that has policy implications is to hold seminars or workshops inviting academic experts to discuss their research with policymakers. Although universities do share their research they do not often have opportunities to engage directly with government officials charged with developing and implementing national policies. Being embedded in the ministries makes it far easier to identify the relevant people in the department and to follow up on issues arising from the seminars.
Dr Habinka arranged a university-ministry workshop to discuss research that has been done on the Universal Primary Education model in 2005 and presented to the Department some time ago. It had not yet influenced policy. Professor John C. Munene wrote the report “The Management of Universal Primary Education in Uganda” in 2005. He had evaluated the Universal Primary Education Programme and found that universal education had been achieved but that the quality of the teaching was lacking.
In a subsequent interview after the workshop Dr Habinka noted that inviting the Permanent Secretary as well as the technical team and Department Heads to the seminar was valuable as the findings of the workshop were received with interest. She explained that this approach of inviting academic researchers, the decision makers, and the implementers has proven successful. The seminar was appreciated by the government officials who plan to take concrete steps by trying to find funds to update the report, and to budget for some of the recommendations of the original report to be taken up in the next financial year.
Dr Albert Rugumayo, who has previous experience both as an academic and working in a Ministry has the advantage of already knowing some of the key challenges faced in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development. The first seminar he arranged resulted in a large number of questions and useful comments that showed an appreciation of the value of evidence-based research. Through this seminar a decision was made to develop a policy based on the responsibilities of the Department, namely: Power Generation, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
A key problem at the Ministry of Agriculture is a lack of a comprehensive database of value addition technologies that are available in the country.
Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe is developing such a database for the Ministry of Agriculture using information gained within the ministry, from academics and by conducting a literature review. He is well placed to do this with his academic background in agribusiness, policy development and statistics. The database will be crosscutting, with information about livestock, crops and fisheries technologies. The technologies will then be presented to stakeholders both inside and outside the Ministry and it is hoped that the database will provide a one-stop-shop for farmers looking at technologies as well as for policy makers who need to decide how to prioritise policies to realise the benefits of these technologies.
Dr Habinka noted the value of writing and circulating short reports or policy briefs which document the findings of seminars. These can be presented to the higher-level policy makers and the Minister for further discussion. For both policy-makers and academics the DRUSSA training in this regard has been a great help. Dr Habinka has found working in a Ministry to be an eye opener in that she now appreciates the bureaucratic challenges that face policy makers. However by planning ahead and keeping in touch with the Secretaries who plan the agenda’s for meetings it is possible to navigate the bureaucracy. In the interview she noted that her experience has been “very interesting. It is good to see how research can blend with policy”.
The Fellowships are having a positive effect within the Ministries but they are also helping the researchers in their academic work. Dr Rugumayo has noted that his work in the Ministry has opened his eyes to the key policy issues, which he can then use in his lecturing at the university.
Dr Annabella Habinka is from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe is from Makerere University and Eng. Dr Albert Rugumayo is from Ndejje University