Education is fundamental for sustaining long-term growth, and its quality depends on well-prepared instructors. To that end, we are investing in high quality training of teachers in developing countries. These efforts are organized through a team for Human and Institutional Capacity Development, or HICD, which serves as a cross-cutting theme in the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab. What does this team do? Drawing on insights from all aspects of the Innovation Lab, we work with international faculty members to create training manuals, to adopt best practices for conducting training, and to convert traditional training into a Training-of-Trainers model that integrates guidance on “how to teach” into training activities. This latter activity helps our in-country partners to gain important technical knowledge while learning how to teach other people that material as well.
Before launching into trainings, we want to discover the greatest needs within a given country. In 2018, the HICD team concluded a needs or gap analysis, using a systems approach, in five countries to identify where there are blockages to research and teaching in livestock systems. We focused our gap analyses on individual training needs, challenges within organizations, and how the enabling environment (such as policies, cultural norms, and infrastructure) influences the quality of research and teaching. The HICD team then supports our university and research institution partners to develop a plan to address these issues. Some of the training needs we have identified to support our vision and the needs of our partners include: biostatistics, statistical software training, grant writing, scholarly writing, laboratory management, updated research methods, and how to conduct qualitative research.
Instead of simply throwing resources at an organization, the HICD team collaborates with our partners to address blockages within the organization itself. This approach helps to ensure that any trainings are relevant and useful beyond one individual. For example, we are assisting a university in Nepal to develop a research ethics review board and protocol, and a strategic plan for public/private partnerships and community outreach. An Ethiopian university is developing a gender strategy for female graduate students and faculty, and a Cambodia university is creating their 10-year strategic plan to improve curriculum in animal science and veterinary medicine
We also pay close attention to the enabling environment and how issues external to an organization can influence their ability to conduct quality research and teaching. These external issues often take the form of policy, funding, and infrastructure challenges. For example, we are collaborating with our Nepali partners on high-level discussions about the policy gaps between research and extension. Common challenges in all our partner countries are posed by under-funded and under-resourced laboratories.
The HICD team is led by Dr. Sandra Russo and Dr. Rebecca Williams from the University of Florida’s Office for Global Research Engagement.
Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems
This work was funded in whole or part by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Food Security under Agreement # AID-OAA-L-15-00003 as part of Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems. Additional funding was received from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors alone.