Professor Prem Ramburuth is training university teachers in Uganda to help enhance the quality of teaching and lift the standard of graduates. She is also researching women's roles in the workplace in Africa around issues of gender eqiuty, roles and opportunities for women, and training for capacity building and empowerment.
The Challenge: Lack of teaching skills in universities, women underskilled and undervalued at work
A 2016 survey by the Inter-University Council of East Africa showed that at least half of the graduates from East African universities lack employability skills, technical mastery and basic work-related capabilities. Of the five countries surveyed, Ugandan graduates were the least skilled with 63% of graduates lacking job market skills. The findings indicate the need for teachers to improve course offerings, curriculum development and their teaching skills.
Around 85% of subsistence farming in Africa is done by women but men retain the higher level roles and status, have greater earning capacity, and make the decisions. Women in Africa do not have the same opportunities for education, training and skills development as their male counterparts for many reasons, including traditional practice, marginalisation and cultural and economic factors.
UNSW's solution: Train University teachers, research women's roles in the workplace
To help Ugandan universities improve the quality of their graduates, Prem is training university staff at Gulu University in Northern Uganda. Prem runs a number of programs for lead teachers from the various disciplines, including a Beginning to Teach program, and the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching (FULT) program, which UNSW teaching staff undertake. Programs have been contextualised for Gulu in collaboration with Gulu’s Vice Chancellor. Prem conducted training at Gulu University in May 2017 (Beginning to Teach) and November of 2017 (FULT) face-to-face, over two weeks. In 2018, she will conduct a Train the Trainer program for lead teachers at Gulu University to help them train up junior staff, and a Leadership program for senior staff. The next step is to make the teaching programs available online. Prem will work with UNSW colleagues and alumni on this initiative. Prem and her Gulu colleagues would like to establish a ‘Centre of Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Development’ at Gulu. They will seek funding for this goal after completing the pilot training. Prem is also in discussion with Uganda’s Ministry of Education to provide university teacher training programs to other universities and vocational institutions in the country.
In collaboration with Farmgain Africa, Prem is researching inclusive subsistence farming in East Africa, focusing on mainstreaming the roles and contributions of women. How can women’s roles in farming be advanced so that they can take on more significant work, earn higher levels of income and gain greater recognition for their contributions? She will engage in field research with Alec Thornton (UNSW Canberra) to identify roles and opportunities for women, issues of marginalisation, gaps in skills required, and develop training modules for upskilling.
Prem is also working with the Africa Australian Universities Network (AAUN) to bring together high level researchers in Africa to investigate the role of women in business sectors which have the highest number of female employees. They will investigate the conditions of employment, barriers to career progression, issues of marginalisation in the workplace, and provide modules for training and skills building. Prem has also been invited to join an expert research team at UNSW which has submitted a proposal to establish an ‘Equal Futures’ Institute at UNSW led by Professor Carla Treloar.
The Impact: Lift graduate and academic standards, empower women in Africa's workplace
Prem’s training efforts at Gulu University are upskilling lead teachers, facilitating skills development for junior colleagues and providing leadership advancement for senior staff. This is resulting in higher quality courses, enhanced teaching and improved student learning. The next phase is to provide Early Career Research Training to strengthen research capabilities and contribute to Gulu University’s aspiration to improve its rankings.
The research on women’s roles in farming, business and other sectors will contribute to understanding how cultural change could be achieved to empower women and give them capacity to play a greater role in the workplace, the economy and in daily life. Training modules will help build the skills required for changes to occur. Results will be shared with academics and government to promote further research and policy that enables women in the workplace in Africa to lead more meaningful lives, and to find more skilled work and be justly rewarded for that work.
Prem Ramburuth is Professor in International Business at UNSW and the Africa Strategy Lead at the UNSW Institute for Global Development. She is the UNSW representative at the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN), and AAUN attendee at the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). She works with the Offices of the South African and Ugandan High Commissions in Australia to further her work in Africa. Her research focuses on education as a driver to build emerging economies, and foster gender equity, equality, diversity and inclusion.