A core business of knowledge and research institutes is to contribute to good quality tertiary education and research in developing countries.
How to do this is tackled in the report “The need for Institutional Change in capacity development of tertiary agricultural education organisations”. The paper is the result of a writeshop with capacity development experts from KIT, ICRA and the Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen UR, who work with agricultural universities, colleges and institutes in developing countries.
The report specifically analyses six case studies of capacity development projects in East and Southern Africa, and Afghanistan.
Typical interventions in capacity development projects in tertiary education organisations include modifying curricula; introducing more learner-centred teaching approaches; training in leadership, collaborative and management skills; and gender mainstreaming.
The project strategies all revealed four common elements. First, identifying and working with “change champions” at the organisations (usually teachers, managers or policy actors). Great effort then went into building strong change teams around these champions. Getting change supported within the wider organisation, and improving interactions with other agricultural innovation actors were also important elements of the change strategy.
Trust, flexibility and continuity important
All cases showed that institutional change involves changes in policy and rules, in how individuals and organisations connect and learn, and in mindsets and attitudes. It proves to be a long, unpredictable and somewhat messy process.
Other over-arching themes that emerged are: the importance of team-building based on trust and good communication; the necessity of continuity for keeping up the momentum for change; and the need for administrative procedures to be more open and flexible. Capacity development projects organised within short and inflexible frameworks were found to be insufficient to achieve long-term, sustainable institutional change.
Many recommendations come out of the six cases, which are in and of themselves fascinating stories, rich in advice based on trial and error, learning and reflection.
To read the paper “The need for Institutional Change in capacity development of tertiary agricultural education organisations” go to: http://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/wurpubs/477893