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George Owuor (left), director of the World Bank’s Center of Excellence for Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM) at Kenya’s Egerton University, and Thomas Thompson (right), associate dean and director of Global Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), highlight the strengths of the universities’ partnership during RUFORUM.

Virginia Tech’s expertise spotlighted at Africa’s premier conference on agricultural education and research

More than 1,000 policy makers, university leaders, students and faculty members—including four Virginia Tech faculty members—met in Kenya in October 2018 for the Sixth Biennial Meeting of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). RUFORUM is a network of 105 universities from 37 African countries who are working to catalyze the transformation of agricultural universities and to support agricultural development and research in Africa.

Virginia Tech conceived and presented three sessions on university partnerships: technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and reducing sexual harassment and violence on campus.

Thomas Thompson, associate dean and director of Global Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), presented during one of the sessions organized by Virginia Tech, “Partnership for change.” He spoke about the successful model of Virginia Tech’s partnership with Kenya’s Egerton University through the World Bank’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM) program.

Larry Vaughan, director for program development in the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED), hosted the second session hosted by Virginia tech titled “Campus policies to reduce sexual harassment.” He also presented during the session, “Skilling Africa’s youth: the role of TVETs.”

Joseph Mukuni, an expert on career and technical education in the School of Education, helped to organize a third session on “TVET Communities of Practice,” during which two faculty members presented. Rick Rudd, head of the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, presented on promoting higher education links to ATVET. A presentation by Maria Mullei, a CIRED faculty member, focused on university partnerships with the private sector.

More than 20 ministers of higher education, 105 vice-chancellors, 530 students and 30 senior government officials attended the conference as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society. The conference sessions and side events enhanced the sharing of knowledge, lessons, and experiences with international and regional partners as well as the strengthening of agribusiness innovation in Africa that increases employment for Africa’s youth.