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Training for Innovation in East Africa


In Kenya and other East African countries, there is a huge impetus to innovate in a context of uncertainty - in the world economy, climate change and human security. Innovation can be harnessed for development in many ways by both public and private sectors – from governments and transnational companies to small entrepreneurs filling a low cost market niche. A challenge is how to enhance the capabilities of those working in innovation, whatever the sector. How do we understand the innovation process? How is technology and innovation policy made and shaped? How can we develop research skills that enable innovation and innovation policy to meet social needs?

This project was a partnership between the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) – a regional think-tank, research and training organisation, based in Nairobi - and the Development Policy and Practice Group. The project aimed to enhance innovation capability and enable people to promote innovation in current or future work. It remains central to both ACTS’ and DPP’s agendas. Enhancing innovation capability also a concern of other key players including Regional Economic Communities such as the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), East African Community, The New Partnership for African's Development (NEPAD) and many public and private sector organisations and enterprises involved in education and training.

Project objectives
The project had the following objectives:

  1. to evaluate whether OU distance learning materials for postgraduate study could be used to enhance capability and employability in technology policy and innovation research
  2. to create a cohort of professionals able to use the materials either face to face or online to support the training of others
  3. to adapt the materials and create open educational resources (OERs) that could be used in continuing professional development in the ACTS Institute training programme
  4. to enable a wider use of the OERs for professional development in the East African region and beyond, by developing co-training initiatives with public and private sector organisations.

Project activities
The project activities included:

  • Recruiting a group of participants from the energy, health and agriculture sectors to study a postgraduate, distance learning module on technology policy and innovation research at the OU.
  • Evaluating the study experience of participants using questionnaires and a workshop. A smaller group was also interviewed at a later stage about their experience of the module and how they had been able to use it in their work.
  • Using the workshop to ‘train the trainers’, in distance and face to face use of the materials. Some module participants also carried out presentations and workshops in their own organisations.
  • Carrying out a second workshop with module participants, employers and other education and training institutions to create an outline of the materials to be adapted for open educational resources and to discuss the inclusion of East African case studies of innovation.
  • Versioning the materials for open educational resources (OERs) and developing case studies of innovation in East Africa.
  • Discussions and networking about wider roll-out and the development of new proposals.

Project outputs

The OERs were tested and launched, and ACTS has organised professional development courses using these materials. Any individual or organisation can now access them here

Please feel free to use these materials in your own education and training work.

The project leaders in ACTS and DPP have published an article on this this experience as follows:

Adwera, A., Hanlin, R. and Johnson, H. (2013) ‘Developmental education for innovation: lessons from an experience in Kenya’, International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 6(3) pp. 244–261.

Workshop
Pictures from the Workshop"Strategising Professional Training in Technology Policy and Innovation Research", 5th-6thOctober 2010, Nairobi, Kenya

Acknowledgements
We wish to acknowledge the assistance of the African Technology Policy Studies Network in the recruitment of module participants.

Funding
This web page is an output from the Education Partnerships in Africa (EPA) Project, funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for the benefit of the UK and African Further and Higher Education Sectors.  The views expressed are not necessarily those of BIS, nor the British Council.

The versioning of materials for Open Educational Resources was funded by charitable donations to the Open University.