The Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) and the University of Nairobi jointly organized a stakeholders’ workshop in Nairobi on September 22nd 2016.The meeting brought together a range of stakeholders from the private sector, government, NGOs and academia. The objective was to examine the extent to which the Master of Research and Public Policy (MRPP) is designed to develop competencies of the 21st Century researcher and public policy practitioner.
The event also provided engagement opportunities between stakeholders and the University of Nairobi on MRPP’s suitability prior to its establishment in the University.
Led by the University of Nairobi’s Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Henry Mutoro, participants lauded the programme for its uniqueness. They were unanimous that the programme would fill gaps in research knowledge on policy formulation, evaluation, analysis and implementation. They further agreed that the programme would impart skills that would enable officers to write cabinet memos and produce policy briefs among others.
These observations followed a presentation by Dr. Joseph Obosi of the University of Nairobi on the MRPP programme design and delivery strategies which shifts from the popular lecture method in university classrooms in the continent. Participants were also informed that the University had embraced the program fully and provided dedicated space in the new University Towers.
Drawing from their insights on the policy process, actors and institutions; the policy and research practitioners present charted an interesting matrix of careers for MRPP graduates. They asserted that the programme was well suited for mid-career professionals in the public sector who are well positioned to interact with senior officials and can thus influence public policy. In addition, participants supported course accreditation by the Public Service Commission which would enhance the capacity of public sector employees and support their career progression.
Additional insights that were provided through panel discussions with experts challenged researchers to take a more activist approach to research so as to navigate the difficult political terrain. There was also emphasis on the need to engage and test research ideas with policy practitioners. It was pointed out that research should focus on compelling current issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals where poverty was cited as a persistent issue.
Furthermore, participants took cognizance of the need to strengthen interactions across the spectrum so that the MRPP programme content resonates with the realities in society. It was agreed that once the programme was rolled out, greater attention would be paid to mechanisms of harnessing research and policy practitioners, contributions to the programme through curriculum review, guest lectures, internship placements, joint appointments, joint research scholarships and infrastructural development.
The next milestone in the establishment of the MRPP at the University of Nairobi is the pending approval by Senate. Once approved, the University of Nairobi will join the 12 founder universities to offer the collaborative programme. The entry of the University of Nairobi as a first among many others on the waiting list affirms not only the growing popularity of the MRPP but also the need for developing capacity for policy relevant research on the continent. It also shows that universities are increasingly embracing rigor and excellence in programme design and delivery.
The MRPP is a two-year graduate programme that was developed by 12 African universities and PASGR to produce the next generation of public policy leaders and researchers in Africa. For more information, see the programme information document or download the brochure.