IICBA Co-organizes a Science Advice and Science Leadership Workshop for Early Career Scientists and Policy-makers of the Eastern Africa Region

From 31 October to 2 November 2019, IICBA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Young Academy of Sciences (EtYAS), the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS), the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), Global Young Academy, the African Science Leadership Program (ASLP) of Future Africa, and the University of Pretoria organized a workshop for Early Careers Scientist and Policy-makers of the Eastern Africa Region on Science Advice and Science Leadership in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In attendance were over 50 participants, including academics, policy-makers from Eastern African Countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania), and experts from partner organizations. The three-day event was facilitated by Dr. Connie Nshemereirwe from Actualize Africa, Mr. Timothy Walter Dunne from Inclusive Innovation, and Dr. Binyam Sisay, Programme Officer, from IICBA.

The workshop aimed to enhance the capacities of education institutions to better use evidence in policymaking at all levels of government. Additionally, it allowed an interdisciplinary group of young scientists and policy-makers in Eastern Africa to explore the leadership role that they could play in the science advice space by developing a personal strategy for continued engagement.

The event began with remarks given by Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of IICBA; Professor Afework Kassu, State Minister of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Ethiopia; Dr. Oladoyin Odubanjo, Chair of INGSA-Africa and Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science INGSA; and Professor Tsige Gebremariam, President of EAS. This was followed by the introductory session and an overview of science advice for Africa presented by Dr. Oladoyin Odubanjo. Thereafter, Dr. Victoria Kisaak, Senior Program Specialist of IICBA, gave a presentation on the Use of Scientific Evidence in Developing Teacher Policy in Africa and shared IICBA’s experiences of providing evidence-based research and advice for policy-makers on teacher policy formulation. In the afternoon there was a panel discussion on the interrelation between policymaking and science advice, hands-on activities on experience sharing from scientists, and the teamwork spirit in the policymaking process. The panel consisted of Dr. Kisaak from IICBA; Dr. Mahlet Mesfin, visiting scholar at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; Dr. Matthew L. Wallace, Senior Program Specialist at the International Development Research Center; and Dr. Moges Yigezu, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Addis Ababa University.

During the second day of the workshop, participants were introduced to the collective leadership model to self-assess their capacities in six aspects of collective leadership. Following that, Professor Bernard Slippers, Director of Future Africa and Director of Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute and the Tree Protection Cooperative Program, motivated participants to reflect on science leadership development in Africa and how to enhance systems in their institutions by using experience from the workshop.

Moreover, a wall for challenges on science advice and leadership was created jointly by participants. Groups brainstormed free ideas based on the challenges they synthesized and generated keywords for solutions. In this way, they actively shared and exchanged valuable experiences with partners, then collectively tackled the specific challenges, which demonstrated a good understanding of the Collective Leadership Model. This was followed by a presentation on Interface between Science Leadership and Science Advice: Lessons Beyond the Laboratory (Bench) given by Professor Rees Kassen from the University of Ottawa. He shared his journey of scientific research and policy advice in Canada. The day was concluded by a reflection session.

The final day focused on solutions and evaluation. The PPCO (pluses, potentials, concerns, overcomes) method was used to conduct peer-evaluations after daily reflection and group presentations on summaries of previous sessions. Based on that, groups modeled action plans to provide solutions. Furthermore, ConnectUS of ASLP, an online platform for young and early career academics from Africa, was introduced by Professor Bernard who invited young African scientists to utilize resources from the platform and build networks with other specialists on the continent. The workshop was successfully concluded by a ceremony to present participants with a certificate of completion.

IICBA will continue its collaboration with ASLP, EtYAS and INGSA to build the capacities of scientists and higher education institutes on science advice and leadership, and to improve quality evidence-based policymaking in Africa.