As we work towards the sustainability and upscaling of gains, CARTA has kicked off Training of Trainers (ToT) Workshops that aim to strengthen the capacity of partner institutions to adopt and independently carry out different CARTA interventions. These interventions comprise of the Joint Advanced Seminars (JASes) for PhD training; Supervisors Workshop (SW) to strengthen postgraduate supervision; Graduate Workshop (GW) to strengthen grant development capacities; and the Academic, Professional and Administrative Staff (APAS) Workshop to strengthen research and post-graduate and research training capacity and processes.

The first of the CARTA ToT workshops to be held was the APAS ToT, previously known as Faculty and Administrative Staff (FAS) seminar). This  ToT took place at the School of Public Health at Makerere University, Uganda from June 6 to 10, 2022. 

Central to CARTA’s Theory of Change (ToC) is a critical mass of well-trained and motivated researchers, supported by a conducive environment. In the endeavour to create  this environment, CARTA recognizes that different functionalities – academic and administrative university staff – play a critical role. CARTA therefore regularly brings together academic and administrative staff, through APAS seminars to understand each other’s roles, appreciate how they complement each other, and take action to make them more effective in their roles to support research and research training. 

The participants include finance officers, deans or directors of graduate schools, academic deans, librarians, procurement officers, registrars, IT staff, and many others. Using participatory learning and teaching methods, the APAS seminars equip the participants to be more responsive to, and supportive of research, research capacity strengthening and early career researchers at doctoral and postdoctoral levels. They  get to appreciate the significance of their work in the wider context of the development needs of the continent in general and in the transformational role of academic institutions in particular. Further, they also get to  understand possible barriers of the PhD training processes in their institutions. 

Cognizant of the fact that the APAS seminars aim to strengthen institutional responsiveness to graduate training and research in Africa, the APAS ToT workshop aimed to empower the participants, who are potential institutional-based facilitators, to effectively coordinate and co-facilitate APAS workshops at their respective  institutions. The participants, having been nominated by their respective Vice Chancellors, included those involved in postgraduate training, CARTA graduates past FAS participants; those who occupied positions that would facilitate APAS training workshops in their institutions; and individuals involved in CARTA activities.

The participants and facilitators benefitted from opening remarks by Prof. Sharon Fonn – CARTA, Co-Director; Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi – Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT); and Prof. Elizeus Rutebemberwa – the acting. Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health. Prof. Buyinza, who is one of the CARTA focal persons at Makerere University and the institutional coordinator of the Norhed Program* called on the trainees to try out the CARTA model and implement the lessons from the ToT in their respective institutions.  “Our business [CARTA and partners] is to build the next generation of African academics, and that means building the capacity of researchers and universities to become independent. We have done this over the years because of the innovative CARTA model,” he said. 

In his remarks, Prof Rutebemberwa lauded CARTA’s capacity building efforts both at individual and institutional levels. He said, “It is a pleasure to see that CARTA has shifted from the agents – PhD candidates trained and perpetuated to ToTs which will bring in a lasting culture. 50 or 100 years from now we can identify what CARTA has been and has done.”

According to Prof Shonn, universities do a lot to support undergraduate studies, but seemingly not so much for postgraduate studies. Yet, it is the postgraduate level that allows us to meet development goals. For researchers to generate quality research and play this role, they require conducive environments. APAS workshops particularly look to address this.

During the APAS ToT workshop in Makerere, participants got an opportunity to explore and use the APAS ToT training manual as a way of familiarising themselves with the workshop and activities that they will hopefully be facilitating at their own institutions. Additionally, the participants explored and practised various training methods, using CARTA techniques. 

Overall, the participatory and interactive method (at the core of the CARTA way of teaching) was highly appreciated with one participant reporting that, “the different methods in the workshop nullified monotony and encouraged interaction among participants.” Another said that, “it is practical, very relaxing, and friendly. It [the workshop] provided the opportunity to learn from one another’s problems.”

At the end of the ToT workshop, teams from each of African Partner Universities developed and submitted working step down institutional plans and strategies for APAS workshops and related interventions at their universities.  

Having had a successful APAS ToT Workshop, plans are underway for ToTs of SW, JASes and GW that will take place within the year at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) – Malawi, University of Rwanda and at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) – Kenya, respectively. 

 

*The CARTA course review, development of the ToT workshop course and the ToT workshops are funded by the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, as part of efforts to promote sustainability of CARTA interventions. 

 

Anne Nangulu, a Professor of Economic History and the Principal of Bomet University College (Constituent College of Moi University) serves as the focal person for CARTA at Moi. She is passionate about improving higher education and research not just in Kenya but across the African continent. As a researcher, she is interested in a diverse field of subjects, working on a multidisciplinary approach: economic and urban history, food security and coping mechanisms, the state, constitution and constitutionalism, quality assurance and internationalization of higher education and gender studies. 

In this interview, she elaborates on her engagement with CARTA and what it has meant for her personally and professionally.

You have been engaged with CARTA for a considerable amount of time. How has that journey been?
I have been walking with the CARTA program since its conceptualization, around 2006 and eventual take off in 2008. I am part of the team that contributed to the inception of the program and even coined the term ‘CARTA’. When the program started, the focus was on population and public health, but we came to realize that humanities, social science and a multidisciplinary approach are important in so far as bringing a human face to what we were doing.

We therefore deliberated and agreed that as long as an applicant is working on an area that relates to public health and population, then they are eligible for the program. With this, we have found that over the years, beneficiaries have come from virtually all disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Humanities – Literature, Communications, History, Psychology, Geography and Sociology; Environmental Studies; and Public and Medical Health.

Has CARTA influenced your personal and professional life in any way?
I have been privileged and humbled to have a career in education and more so serve in university management. When I began engaging with CARTA, I was the Dean – School of Arts and Social Sciences at Moi University. Over the years, I have risen into other ranks, such as Coordinator and a Director of Quality at Moi, and Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of academic research and extension in acting capacity for a period of over six months. Additionally, I have also been appointed by the Government of Kenya as the Deputy Commission Secretary, in charge of quality audit and standards at the Commission for University Education (CUE), Kenya.

One area that I have come to particularly appreciate in my journey with CARTA, is the value of research. Research as a source of funding for university education is very critical. Personally, I have participated in grant writing trainings of CARTA, as a beneficiary/participant and later on as a facilitator. In the process, my horizon for funding has substantially expanded not just for research funding, but also funds for development components: research, infrastructure, equipment or buildings. CARTA has been a learning and gainful experience both in my academic and leadership journey.

In its third phase, CARTA is supporting partner institutions and beneficiaries to independently run existing CARTA interventions. Do you think this is feasible?
I am currently the Principal of Bomet University College, which is a very young institution. I thank the Government of Kenya for this appointment and the opportunity to serve. While putting structures in place for the young institution, I am definitely contributing to the landscape of higher education in Kenya and beyond. I can say that I have brought CARTA interventions on board, particularly bringing focus and investment to research. 

I participate in research projects and I have also set up and lead groups of researchers. I put deliberate efforts to bring on board early career academicians by encouraging them to get into research, mentoring them and supporting them with grant writing. In mentoring, I do not just train and give them the theoretical foundations but I literally divide them into groups and work with them to identify and attract research funds whether it is for the actual research, equipment, or conference facilitation. CARTA has taught me that any research fund, no matter how small, matters.

CARTA has given me very big academic and research development and from all my experience with the program, I have understood the model and approach enough to replicate the same model in a number of ways. One instance is a European Union funded project that I was part of conceptualizing and implementing, called the Academic Mobility for Africa Sustainability (AMAS). When a call came from the European Union for a project that can support higher education cooperation between countries in Africa, straight away I applied the experience garnered from CARTA. I took lead and also enlisted like-minded partners to take off the project. The model of AMAS has been like that of CARTA but with a few differences.

First, while CARTA emphasizes on English speaking, AMAS has casted the net slightly farther to also include non-English speakers. We have French, Arabic and Portuguese speaking partners and beneficiaries from Mozambique, Morocco, Benin, and Ethiopia. Kenya’s Moi University is the lead coordinator of the project while Germany’s Universität Bayreuth is the technical partner. Secondly, while beneficiaries of CARTA have to be from partner institutions, AMAS has two targets of beneficiaries. Target one for AMAS partner universities and target two for non-partner universities. 

Overall, out of the AMAS collaboration, we have brought in South-South cooperation and contributed to increased availability of trained and qualified high-level professional manpower in Africa. As a way of promoting visibility to Bomet University College which as I said is a young institution, I have brought it on board to host the AMAS website and also offer Secretariat services to the Project. This provides an opportunity for the institution to participate in research and higher education dynamics with well-established partners. At the end of the day, I am proud that I have been able to cascade and replicate the CARTA model successfully. 

Looking back at CARTA since inception, any highlights that you believe have contributed to its success?
At the conceptualization of CARTA, the program focused on doctoral training because at that time, PhDs, which are related to expansion of university education and research, were low. The focus then was to have a critical mass and initially the target was just a hundred fellows/graduates. Now we have close to 120 graduates and over 200 fellows, and that is a big achievement. Through CARTA, we also wanted to showcase African universities; that you do not need to leave Africa to get quality education; that African scholars can get trained on the continent and benefit from the initiatives and partners on board. This is great in so far as preventing brain drain and creating quality human resources for academia and research which benefits the African Continent.

While the idea of CARTA began in 2006, it took about two years to bring the initiative into fruition. This time allowed for the refinement of the steps, objectives and approach as well as for us driving the process to really understand what we wanted and needed to achieve. Since the founding in 2008, we have had a call for fellows every year. This is only possible because there are a lot of initiatives for fundraising to support the program. Initially, CARTA was supported by Wellcome Trust but over the years, we have brought on board MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Carnegie, DAAD, Sida among others. Clear is that funders have seen CARTA’s track record hence the support from existing and new stakeholders along the way. From this, I have learnt that if you do successful projects, with demonstrable positive outputs, then you build confidence in funders and partners.

Along the way, the issue of CARTA beneficiaries being limited to mainstream academia has also risen. Successful post-graduate training is not just about the PhD candidate but is a process that involves other actors such as administrative and faculty staff. CARTA has therefore operationalized and brought in faculty and administrator training referred to as Academic, Professional and Administrative Staff (APAS), previously Faculty and Administrative Staff (FAS) workshops. APAS targets among others administrators, registrars, librarians, finance and procurement teams. Interestingly, some of the faculty and administration individuals trained in CARTA have eventually applied for CARTA scholarships leading to career development and/or transition to lecturing, active research and other related ventures. This demonstrates that CARTA has been able to strengthen academia, research and administrative components in Partner Universities, for the benefit of the African Continent.

The program is now on another level of institutionalizing the CARTA interventions and innovations. We now have workshop trainings for supervisors; we have brought institution management on board; and are targeting Vice Chancellors in what we call the Vice Chancellors’ forum. Additionally, CARTA provides small grants and funding to further support fellows and institutions to independently roll out CARTA interventions and innovations, based on the theory of change, to strengthen doctoral training for the benefit of higher education.

Is there anything you would hope CARTA would do differently for better outcomes?
I am extremely proud of how far CARTA has come and for being part of the whole process. When I think about what we could have done better, I would say nothing. We have done our best and what is now left is to amplify the work and ensure the model is institutionalized in partner institutions and by extension in African Universities across the continent. We are looking forward to having CARTA fellows and alumni wherever they will be engaged, locally, regionally or globally, leveraging on this very fantastic model. I am already doing it and I can do it a hundred times if there is opportunity. As we conclude, I want to reiterate my commitment, that as long as I am able, anytime I am called upon to share experiences, practices, and strategies to enhance postgraduate training or any other training in African universities, I will always be willing. Extremely proud to be part of the CARTA story! 

Kudus Adebayo, CARTA Cohort Six Fellow – now Graduate, recently joined Cohort 10 fellows for their Joint Advanced Seminar 2 (JAS 2) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The seminar took place between May 23 and June 3, 2022. Ann Waithaka, CARTA Communications Officer, took the opportunity to have a chat with Kudus, not only about his experience at the Seminar but also with CARTA over the years.

CARTA fellowship
I am a proud CARTA graduate having completed my doctoral training in 2019 at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. My research examined the migration and settlement experiences of Nigerians in Guangzhou, China. In retrospect, CARTA was a major turning point in my doctoral journey as it provided access to a wide range of support in many areas of capacity development, which are not explicitly taught in the university. It was an intense process but like many other fellows, I had my peers to rely on for support and could access experts at different levels of scholarly careers to turn to for important learning and guidance.

CARTA has contributed immensely to my growth as an academic and has continued to shape my aspiration towards becoming a research leader with a voice. I have developed in ways that many of my peers have perhaps missed because they have not had an opportunity to participate in a program like this. Therefore, I think that more initiatives with a CARTA-like approach can really transform higher education and research on the continent. When I was close to finalizing my PhD, I was confident that I am on a path, sure of what I must do next to become a serious researcher and understood my mandate as an African researcher based in an African institution. I also graduated from the program without really leaving; my cohort members becoming peers to depend on, younger fellows that I am connecting with and supporting, and facilitators who are now colleagues – everyone tied together with that CARTA vision.

Since graduating, I have been engaged in CARTA activities by providing qualitative research-related support to fellows, mostly during JAS 3. This engagement started just before I completed my PhD and has continued till date. I have been involved with three separate cohorts attending JAS 3, offering recap sessions on qualitative data analysis and writing, as this is part of the key goals of this JAS. This has included giving demonstrations on the use of NVivo and CAQDAS and providing one-on-one support to fellows. Outside the regular JAS, I have been part of the team working to review the CARTA curriculum and developing a Training of Trainers (ToT) curriculum for the mainstreaming phase of this important capacity building initiative for African researchers and universities.

JAS 2 at the University of the Witwatersrand
The first feeling from participating in JAS 2 is the realization that “I have been here before” and the joy of being here to support fellows walking the same path is undeniable. JAS 2 is where fellows come to really refine and finalize what their doctoral research vision is all about. The facilitators have been hands-on in providing guidance and exposing fellows to tools and skills they need to finalize and get their protocols approved in preparation for the field. It is particularly interesting that the facilitators are sensitive to the fact that different fellows are in different places in their work and are working with them accordingly.

I believe my presence alone has been supportive and some fellows mentioned this during a one-on-one conversation over coffee. Beyond that, together with another CARTA graduate, Sara Nieuwoudt (Cohort Four) we worked with facilitators to support learning on qualitative data analysis and use of CAQDAS. I also supported fellows planning to work or working with qualitative approaches in their doctoral research. Being able to share what I have learned, that current fellows could use, was valuable, I believe for them and for myself.

Postdoctoral fellowship
I am currently based at the University of the Witwatersrand for my post-doc fellowship which I began in October 2021 and will run up to September 2022. The Fellowship is offered by the ARUA/Carnegie Early Career Fellowship in the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Migration and Mobility which is housed at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), Wits. The fellowship at ACMS has offered me protected time to concentrate on writing, especially finalizing manuscripts and attending peer-reviews on submissions that have now been published.

It has been worthwhile and enriching to be here. I have had the opportunity to participate in a specialized training on migration and health, and shared my on-going research at a seminar organized by the Wits School of Public Health. Currently, I am developing articles and monograph manuscripts based on research I conducted on the afterlives of Nigerian deportees from China. The study is supported by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)’s African Humanities Program (AHP) Postdoctoral Fellowship. I have also secured partial support to participate in a major conference – Conference of the Association for African Studies, taking place in June 2022 in Germany.

Taking stock of CARTA goals
CARTA is meeting its core of objectives. The CARTA vision is manifesting with hundreds of fellows and graduates across different higher institutions of learning and research in Africa. Graduates of the program are taking over the reign as facilitators, focal persons and supervisors while leading their institutions as research leaders and administrators. The “critical mass” of capable thinkers and researchers are well in motion and are already mentoring graduate students. CARTA institutions are also adapting aspects of the program to train doctoral students. This is a clear demonstration that the CARTA interventions are being mainstreamed and institutionalized.

One area I welcome CARTA to consider is post-graduation engagement of fellows. This is because not all fellows move at the same pace after graduation. More could be done to support those who need assistance and guidance. The establishment of institutional or national CARTA forums can also help fellows build long-lasting and truly supportive and collaborative networks, which can have continental and global impacts.

I am excited about what the future holds for the CARTA initiative, fellows and the impact the initiative will have in its lifetime – not just for universities but also for research and development in Africa. It is tough to pin down the impact or CARTA to this or that; it is just impactful. I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to walk the CARTA path.

The CARTA program is now in its third 5-year phase dubbed CARTA 2025. This phase has four strategic objectives, among them supporting the creation of research-supportive environments in African partner institutions . To this end, CARTA is working towards mainstreaming CARTA interventions at partner institutions. These interventions have been used within the Consortium to strengthen the research, and research capacities of CARTA fellows, graduates, supervisors, and faculty and administration staff. They comprise of the Joint Advanced Seminars (JASes), Supervisors Workshop (SW), Graduate Workshop (GW) and the Academic, Professional and Administrative Staff (APAS) Seminar (previously Faculty and Administrative Staff – FAS). 

One key activity towards mainstreaming CARTA interventions at partner institutions has been the review of the related curricula and the development of related Training of Trainers (ToT) programs.  Through the ToT workshops, CARTA seeks to strengthen the facilitation capacity of partner institutions to be able to independently carry out the interventions.

The ToT development workshop process follows a series of engagements with the teams, including the review of the course outline that kicked off in mid-2021. Owing to the ongoing pandemic, the review of the course and the development of the ToT workshop course had taken a virtual approach. For the course review – largely virtual -, the teams participated in an inception meeting, course revisions and team correspondences, review meetings, external reviews by the Secretariat and other CARTA members, and consultations with an e-learning/curriculum expert.

CARTA convened a face-to-face ToT development workshop in Nairobi (Kenya) between May 9-11, 2022. The workshop brought together teams of coordinators, facilitators and graduates of the JASes, SW, GW and APAS, supported by the CARTA Directors, Secretariat and consultants, to finalize ToT materials and develop annotated ToT programs for JASes, SW, GW and APAS. During this process, the workshop enhanced the participants’ understanding of the CARTA pedagogy and the rationale behind the interventions; included the sharing of best practices in the development and facilitation of ToT Workshop; and provided the participants with opportunities to determine the most appropriate modes of delivery for the various interventions and ToT programs. 

The workshop, being the first face-to-face event after the long duration of virtual meetings and events that were occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, also enabled the teams to connect. It was an intensive yet interactive four-day workshop, and participants had a lot of positive feedback on the whole process. One participant said that, “it has been a very rewarding and rich experience,” while another reported that, “we realized that some of our practical sessions were mis-titled and changed them. We also developed a new ToT session and incorporated it into the new ToT curriculum.

The final reviewed course, the ToT programs and a number of learning resources are being uploaded on the CARTA website. CARTA intends to complete the curriculum review and ToT development process by the end of August 2022. 


The CARTA course review and the development of the ToT workshop course is funded by the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, as part of efforts to promote sustainability of CARTA interventions through strengthening the capacity of institutional-based facilitators to independently carry out the CARTA interventions in their respective institutions.

For the #CARTA100 series, (celebrating CARTA’s over 100 PhD Graduates) Mpho Molete (Cohort Six Graduate, University of the Witwatersrand) shares about her current research interests, her experience of carrying out research and teaching amidst the pandemic. Read on.

Tell us about your current research interests: What questions/problems are you exploring? What are some of the findings that your work has revealed?
My current research interests are centered around the field of Implementation Science, as often in a health setting, we adopt programs or interventions because the evidence says it’s good and it works. However, not enough attention goes into ensuring that implementation is carried out well, in a given context and that the process yields favorable outcomes. These were some of the broader findings that emanated from my PhD research on school-based oral health programs. Therefore, I would like to continue working on questions that explore mechanisms of program implementation and approaches to bridging the gap between evidence and implementation; starting from the field of oral health to broader non-communicable disease interventions.

As a researcher, how did you overcome practical issues such as contact, communication, connectivity? What are the solutions relating to carrying out CPE during the Covid-19 pandemic?
When the COVID 19 pandemic emerged in South Africa, I was fortunate enough to have completed the data collection phase and was on the write-up stage, therefore I was not affected by the physical contact barriers. The greatest challenge for me during the early phases of lockdown was adapting to the routine of working from home. This was disruptive as I had to bear with unreliable connectivity, sharing of laptops, working space and juggling between assisting with homeschooling, work and PhD writing. Eventually, I settled in my “new normal” as I invested in good reliable Wi-Fi and found a corner in the house that was strictly designated for me. Therefore, my advice is; be intentional in creating a workspace that suits you and be open to adapting to technological advancements that are relevant to your research and teaching career.

What are the greatest lessons you have drawn as a researcher and are there any opportunities you have seen emerge from the pandemic?
The greatest lessons that I have learned during this pandemic are that; the field of public health is fundamentally important and the consequences of poor public health decisions can adversely impact global economies. Therefore, one need not have a myopic view of their field of interest and should be open to collaborating across disciplines as COVID has demonstrated the importance of interdependencies between politics, health, disaster management, economics and international relations. So, personally, the opportunities that I see are to be open to adapting my newly acquired PhD skills into addressing research questions that are not restricted to my field. Particularly in solving current health problems that we are faced with within the African continent and beyond.

What’s next for your career? What issues are you going to focus on in your upcoming research projects?
Following on my PhD findings, I am currently collaborating with the Gauteng Department of health in finding ways on how Community Health Workers can be trained and integrated into district oral health programs. I am also supervising student research that is assessing the effects of the school food environments on oral health. Some other work I have been mentoring include; the effects of COVID 19 on dental student learning and in addition the COVID 19 effects on professional dental clinical practice.

The University of Ibadan is celebrating the doctorate of nine CARTA fellows whose degrees were awarded in mid-November. This brings the total number of CARTA graduates from the University to 21 with another 15 in the fellowship pipeline. The fellows work at different departments and schools within the university and are strengthening the fields of economics, epidemiology and medical statistics, periodontology and community dentistry, and environmental health sciences, in line with the multi-disciplinary approach of CARTA.

CARTA has supported its African partner institutions to strengthen the institutional facilities that support research and to mainstream various program interventions with the aim to enhance the quality of doctoral training at institutional levels. Through this, the University of Ibadan renovated the postgraduate library and seminar rooms with CARTA’s support and has reviewed the PhD curricula across the university to adopt the JASes to the needs of each school. They have also developed a library reference manual and built the capacity of staff members on the use of the manual. So far, 66 faculty members from UI have attended CARTA’s Supervisors Workshops and 24 faculty and administrative staff have participated in the FAS workshops.
Babatunde Adedokun, a Cohort One Graduate from the University of Ibadan and one of the facilitators of the JAS 3 says that “It is gratifying to see the dividends of the incredibly impactful CARTA program. We must take full advantage of the opportunities it provides for networking, capacity building and mentoring among other possibilities,” he said.