University faculty and administration staff are key to the production of quality PhD graduates. These staff need to acquire specific skill-sets critical in supporting growth and development of post-graduate studies in order to realize quality graduates. For this reason, the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), held a 3-day Faculty and Administrators’ Staff (FAS) workshop from July 27-29, 2015. Hosted by the University of Nairobi, Kenya, the workshop was attended by over 100 participants drawn from CARTA participating institutions across sub-Saharan Africa.
CARTA, through the FAS workshops, aims to give faculty and administration staff an understanding and awareness of the skills required to effectively supervise research. Apart from offering a foundation for the specific skills needed to fund, manage, disseminate and commercially exploit scientific research, FAS workshops also train participants on managing international and multidisciplinary research projects.
“FAS workshops are organized by CARTA to equip the faculty staff members with necessary skills in research, grant writing, research governance and other skills they need in their day to day work and that enable them to smoothly support the operationalization of the program activities at their various institutions. This is part of our institutional strengthening support offered by CARTA to participating institutions,” said Prof. Peter Ngure, representing Dr. Catherine Kyobutungi, Director of Research, APHRC, at the opening of the workshop. Prof. Ngure is the CARTA Program Manager.
FAS workshops seeks to promote quality and effective research as well as build a strong research culture, and financial and information management systems in research in Africa. The participants are trained to become change agents within their institutions and act as catalysts for the program. Further, FAS offers the participants a networking opportunity for them to share insights on common challenges facing their institutions and to also share best practices of what has worked in trying to counter the challenges from their institutional points of view.
“We are happy to note that CARTA has not just been leading collaborative PhD training but also ensured that available resources for training faculty and administrators are pooled together and have this training of international repute come to fruition,” said Prof. Peter Mbithi, Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi adding, “I have no doubt that every one of the participants seated here today, will have the right impetus to be change agents in their universities by contributing to quality research in their own way.”
FAS was first held in Nairobi in 2011 and has seen over 350 participants trained on issues in research management and governance, use of information technology, supervision and mentoring of graduate students, grant writing, and knowledge management. Because of the huge improvement in post-graduate training support offered by the previous FAS participants, CARTA is convinced of the importance of FAS workshops. This is why the 6th workshop was held this year. As a result of the FAS workshop, librarians who attended the last FAS workshop managed to come together and jointly author a paper that was published in a peer reviewed journal, a practice that is rare amongst faculty staff of any institutions if it does exist.
The participants at the 6th FAS workshop came from several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These included South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya