UNESCO working to strengthen capacities in STI policy

Today it is recognized that strong science, technology and innovation (STI) systems can reap benefits well beyond economic growth and industrial development but also contribute to providing solutions to eradicating poverty, creating inclusive societies and ensuring a sustainable environment. Tapping into the benefits of STI requires strong institutional and human capacities to govern the systems and make strategic choices in terms of policies and strategies for development.

Through its programme to build capacities in STI policy and governance, UNESCO works to support the development of new STI policy programmes and strengthen existing ones in universities and academic centres, notably in Africa. By working to increase the critical mass of STI policy experts, the programme aims to strengthen institutional and human capacities to formulate and develop specific STI strategies for development, inclusive public policies and effective means of governing.

It is within this context that UNESCO, the National Engineering School of Tunis (ENIT) and the Tunisian Association for the Advancement of STI (TAASTI) have co-organized the International Workshop on inter-university networking for capacity-building in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy: Towards a comprehensive African master programme at ENIT (11 and 12 June 2015 in Hammamet, Tunisia). An international workshop aimed at tackling existing resource gaps in STI policy training and research programmes by developing a North-South-South international network in STI policy serving to pool knowledge, resources and facilitate exchange.

International Workshop on inter-university networking for capacity-building in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy

The two day international workshop brought together representatives from international and regional organizations such as the International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation (ISTIC), the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation Technology (UNU-MERIT), the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the Pan African University (Yaoundé), as well as universities from Africa and other parts of the world including the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (UK), the University of Bremen (Germany), the Nelson Mandela African Institution for Science and Technology (NM-ASIT) (Tanzania), the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at the Tshwane University of Technology (South Africa), and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) (Korea).

The objective of the workshop was twofold; first, to discuss the design and creation of a dynamic and innovative North-South-South international network in STI policy, and to agree on potential joint activities to kick start the initiative. The aim of the network is to build and nurture partnerships, enhance and encourage collaboration between universities, institutes and academics, and ultimately, to stimulate the development of new STI policy training and research programmes, particularly in Africa. Initially, the network, through a community of practice, will serve to pool educational resources, share training and teaching modules, facilitate student and scholar exchanges between institutions in the network, and encourage joint submission of proposals for studies and publications in the field of STI policy.

The workshop also focused on reviewing ENIT’s proposal to establish a comprehensive STI policy master programme for Africa. Participants provided their feedback and expertise in developing such a programme. During the workshop ENIT announced the official acceptance by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The programme will be open in September 2015.

UNESCO making strides since the Second Ministerial Forum on STI in Africa

The workshop in Tunis and the project to create a North-South-South network is a step forward in reinforcing UNESCO’s programme to build capacities in STI policy, notably in the African region. In addition it falls in line with the discussions that recently took place during the Second Ministerial Forum on STI in Africa (Rabat, Morocco, October 2014) where the importance of strengthening the role African universities play in STI systems management was underlined. During the Forum, 20 African Ministers in charge of STI committed in the Ministerial Statement of Rabat to supporting “programmes and networks that aim at developing human and institutional capacities in STI policy.”

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For more information on the programme, please contact: Sonia Bahri, Ahmed Fahmi or Kornelia Tzinova