[Interview] Joy Owango, Executive Director, Training Centre in Communication, Kenya
Training Centre in Communication is a centre that works with researchers, research institutes and governments in Sub Sahara Africa to produce and improve their research output and visibility.
The organization’s Executive Director Joy Owango talked to Africa Business Communities about its model, ambitions and the current state of higher education and research in Sub Saharan Africa.
Introduce Training Centre in Communication?
We are a centre that supports researchers, research institutes and governments in Sub Sahara Africa on how they can produce and improve their research output and visibility. This is done through training . In essence universities and research institutes should be doing this, but the administrative dynamics , make it difficult for them to do so effectively. Our objective is to Train. Support. researchers as the capacity to communicate with peers and non peers, gives them a competitive edge to increase their collaboration, visibility and most importantly increase their funding pool. Our research capacity training comes with free research data , which, is extremely useful for the research discovery process for a career researcher.
What makes Training Centre in Communication different from organisations or programmes that offer capacity support for researchers?
There are programmes like ours that exist, but they are donor funded and the biggest challenge is that once the funding is completed the project collapses. That is why we chose not to go through the funding model , but a business and self sustainable approach to managing Training Centre in Communcation and our success story is that we have supported over 3000 researchers at (MSc, PhD and Profs levels) in over 70 research institutes in over 20 countries in Sub Sahara Africa.
You recently won the Invest2Impact Award, kindly share with us more information about it?
This was a five country challenge and we competed against 800 companies in the region emerging as the top 100 winners. The award looked at women run sustainable organisations in the region and we won in the higher education category.
What are the major activities you have been involved in the last two months.
We conducted a Science Communication training for senior researchers and gudied them on how they can translate their research papers into opinion editorials, features and news articles. They also learned on how they can work with the media to increase their visibility.
Three weeks ago we were invited by the Government of Malawi, to guide their Science Granting Council, through the Ministry of Education Science and Technology on how to improve its research and academic community’s output and visibility through Scientometrics (research metrics used in monitoring and evaluating research output).
We were later invited by the Ministry of Higher Education Research and Innovation, Senegal as key higher education stakeholders in the Science Granting Councils Meeting, which, brings together African countries that have committed to spending 1% their GDP in higher education research and innovation .
What is the current state of higher education and research in Kenya and Sub Saharan Africa?
It is promising, as governments have committed to spending at least one percent of their GDP on higher education and research. So far 15 African countries including Kenya have almost reached this target and have created Science Granting Councils, whose job is to provide funding , research support for the higher education and research sector. This is where we come in as a centre as we support the research and academic communities in these respective countries through training and consultancy on ways to improve the of the quality of research outputs(academic papers, presentations) and increase their visibility, through various research support solutions and open access data.
In January the UK Government released a report on its drive to invest in Africa, particularly in the Higher Education Sector. What are your views on this?
The higher education sector in Africa is maturing , if the creation of the Science Granting Councils is anything to go by.As such, investment is welcome, however investors need to be patient as political economy in the region may make the investment process slow. In this case investors, should be patient and ready the ride the wave , that come with the challenges faced in Africa.
What are Training Centre in Communications’ plans ambitions for 2020.
Create more Global North-South partnerships, that will lead to providing more open access data for researchers in Sub Sahara Africa, thus making their research discovery process easier and making their work more visible, which, in turn empower academics on getting information that can give them a competitive edge with their peers in the Global North.
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