Laying the Groundwork for Agriculture Transformation in Senegal: University partnerships with Africa Lead

During the signing Ceremony: From left to right: Cheikh Ndiaye Touba, Africa Lead I C4C training graduate; Anne Williams, USAID Director Economic Growth Office, Dakar, Senegal; David Tardif-Douglin, COP Africa Lead; Prof Noba Kandioura, Head of ISAE; Prof Joseph Faye, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology; Prof Ibrahima Thioub, President of the University Cheikh Anta Diop.

In an effort to promote agriculture, the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD), Senegal, has recently opened a specialized Institute for Agribusiness called the Institut Supérieur d’Agriculture et d’Entreprenariat (ISAE), after three years in the making. The Institute’s mandate is threefold: (i) train students in agriculture and agribusiness; (ii) provide continuing education for agricultural professionals for service in agribusiness; and (iii) provide service to the community, using an innovative approach that combines in-class courses/lectures and in the field hands on practicum/internships with agro-enterprises, farms, and other agriculture value chain enterprises.

Africa Lead engaged with the Dean of the Sciences and Technology Faculty, the head of the newly created ISAE, and a number of instructors and other faculty members from the university to consider how Africa Lead’s flagship Food Security, Leadership and Change Management curriculum could be incorporated into the new institute’s core curriculum.  Following several work sessions between DAI/Africa Lead and UCAD, a letter of agreement was signed between the two organizations.  According to the President of the University, Ibrahima Thioub, the partnership between Africa Lead and UCAD/ISAE will permit the integration of Africa Lead’s modules into ISAE training curriculum to enhance the student’s knowledge of and skills in agribusiness leadership, change management. For Professor Ibrahim Thioub, “vocational and university training is a central piece of a strategy to boost productivity and to contribute to human development and modernization of rural economies. UCAD decided to work closely with Africa Lead to promote the transformation of African agriculture in general and Senegalese agriculture in particular.”

After the signature of the Letter of agreement (LOA), the Africa Lead/UCAD team implemented a set of activities that led to the: (i) adaptation and integration of the C4C module into ISAE core curriculum; (ii) training of a core group of lectures from the university in the delivery of the C4C modules; (iii) design of an internship component to provide graduates and undergraduates students with hands-on experience; and (iv) link the Institute to the job market and vice versa.

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) professors at the end of Validation Workshop Ibadan, Nigeria

A working group comprised of a graduate from Africa Lead I’s agriculture and food security leadership and change management courses, the Dean of the Sciences and Technology Faculty, the head of ISAE, the Director of the Pedagogical Department of the University, and six other faculty members with Africa Lead held several meetings and workshops to explore how to embed Africa Lead food security leadership and change management training into the core curriculum of the Institute.

This process led to the: i) modification of the original C4C curriculum to better fit the university context; ii) training a core group of university lecturers in the Adult Learning and Cognitive Psychology Approach; and iii) creation of an internship program for ISAE students with agribusiness enterprises, farms, agriculture research institute, government agencies working for the modernization and transformation of agriculture.

The Institut Superieur d’Agriculture et d’Entreprenariat opened its doors in March 2017. The C4C is part of the core curriculum of two of its agriculture diploma programs. In addition to extensive coursework, students from both programs are required to complete a 10-week internship.  In order to graduate in either program, the students have to earn 33 credits from the C4C curriculum.

With this partnership with Check Anta Diop University, USAID/Feed the Future is reaching a new target group—agriculture and agribusiness students— and is investing in future agribusiness entrepreneurs to help them manage any business along the agriculture value chain or create their own small or medium agribusiness enterprise.  In addition, internalizing the food security, leadership and change management curriculum into the core curriculum of the newly created higher Institute for agribusiness will contribute to the adoption by the teachers of the faculty of Sciences and Technology of new participatory, learner-centered and experiential teaching techniques and methods, thus contributing to changing the local system and mainstreaming some of the modules, principles, methods, and techniques used to deliver the lessons and assess the students across the whole university.

The experience with ISAE/UCAD and the process used to integrate the C4C has led to other takers in the region.  The work with UCAD inspired the integration of the C4C modules into three Universities in Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin, and the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Each university is proceeding with getting the C4C curriculum approved by the university administration and planning to start teaching the Food Security, Leadership and Change Management module.

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