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23 March 2017
Working with Policy Makers Print
Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:56

How research is undertaken, made available, accessed, applied and used is at the heart of Research Uptake. In order to address a range of developmental challenges research needs to be disseminated outside the academic domain to meet policy- and decision-makers needs for reliable evidence from science, technology and social science research. The DRUSSA programme piloted an approach to support capacity building for government staff to access and use research evidence. The purpose is to have university researchers and ministry advisors better understand and appreciate how and when research evidence can inform policy decision-making.

Two of the twelve countries in which DRUSSA universities are based were selected for the pilot. In Ghana the DRUSSA partners are the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI) and the University of Ghana’s Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER). The team is working with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ministry of Trade and Industry.

In Uganda the partners are the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) at Makerere University. Here the team is working with the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sport, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

The initiative has involved three main components (i) policy symposia for senior policy officials (ii) placement of academics from universities/research institutions in participating ministries as Policy Fellows (iii) professional development courses for junior and mid-level policy advisors on accessing and using science and research evidence,.

Participant feedback at Ministry of Education Symposium (Uganda)

‘The symposium is timely as it handles the management of Universal Public Education in Uganda since its inception in 1997. I have learnt about the social cognitive factors that had hitherto not been emphasised and yet they are very crucial. I have learnt about the use of data and how critical this is in coming up with relevant and successful policies that will positively enhance the education sector. I have also learnt about incorporating the emerging issues for future policy making’

Twenty seven policy symposia have taken place in Ghana and Uganda. In Ghana thse include the Ministry of food and Agriculture (MOFA), the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), and the Ministry of Environment Science Technology and Innovations. In Uganda these involved the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Ministry of Public Service and the Parliamentary Commission. The topics have covered a range of current debates and dialogues including:

Beans Value Chain Analysis, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries

Milk Value Chain Analysis, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries

Enhancing the Quality of Higher Education in Uganda: Proposals and Recommendations, Ministry of Education and Sport

Quality of Education: Some Insights for Evidence Based Policy, Ministry of Education and Sport

Critical Factors in Primary School Performance in Uganda (Chapter 1 of the book on the Performance of UPE in Uganda), Ministry of Education and Sport

Critical Factors in Primary School Performance in Uganda (Chapter 2 of the book on the Performance of UPE in Uganda), Ministry of Education and Sport

At the Ministries, interactions between the Fellows and staff indicate that having the Fellows working in the ministry has been of great benefit, especially in the areas of capacity building and accessing research evidence. The Fellows through their own work activities made a number of inputs that affected policy directions and documents. It also came to light that due to the embeddedness, the research evidence provided to influence any policy or act became easily acceptable due to the involvement of both parties.

Participant feedback (Ghana)

“…starting with the process of providing evidence for policy formulation and ending with the process of using the evidence makes one understand and accept the evidence better...”

In total 18 Fellows(12 from Ghana and six from Uganda) were placed in the participating ministries enabling researchers to work together with government policymakers to address national development priorities and nearly 200 policy pro fessionals have been trained in accessing and using science and research evidence. The experiences from the perspectives of both sides were positive and lessons learned, such as those outlined by Professor John Munene from Makerere University on the role of experiential learning during a DRUSSA Fellowship Programme, can be incorporated into future initiatives.


Justina Onumah is a Research Scientist (Ag. Economist) at CSIR-STEPRI, Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), George Essegbey is Director at CSIR-STEPRI, Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) and Karrine Saunders is the ACU’s DRUSSA Programme Manger

 

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