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Varsities form alliance for PhD programme

posted Apr 1, 2011, 9:03 AM by CARTA Administrator   [ updated Apr 1, 2011, 9:04 AM ]

The Daily News,

By BILHAM KIMATI, 10th July 2010

THE University of Dar es Salaam has officially formed an alliance with the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), a four-year PhD programme aimed at building a vibrant African academy to make a positive impact on public and population health.

The programme currently with members from nine African universities and four research institutes is determined to promote research hubs at African universities and facilitate high-quality research on policy-relevant priority issues.

Speaking at the official launch, the Acting University of Dar es Salaam Vice Chancellor, Prof. Makenya Maboko said under the initiative universities would be able to build networks of locally-trained internationally recognized scholars.

''Under the umbrella of CARTA, the continent will make effective use of the competent academicians to lead globally-competitive research and training programmes. This will be achieved by initiating a model doctoral training programme with strong supervision,'' Prof. Maboko explained.

Commenting on the problem of academic succession coupled with looming shortage of professors at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof. Maboko said nearly 65 per cent of professors at the 'Hill' are reaching the retirement age, while 55 per cent of lecturers were yet to finish their doctorate studies.

''This programme will make a difference,'' he said.

To start with, early next year the university will enroll 16 PhD students, a number that Prof Betram Mapunda, the Principal College of Arts and Social Sciences said was not enough. Deliberate efforts were necessary to increase the number to 25 or more.

''The multidisciplinary nature of the programme allows scholars from various disciplines such as Geography, Statistics, Sociology, Demographic studies, Engineering and others to undergo closely supervised training to build physical research infrastructure,'' Prof. Mapunda explained.

Since the first intake would include on-job tutorial assistants, junior staff members are advised to grab the opportunity for a sustainable academic succession.

Prof. Ogoh Alubo from African Population and Health Research Centre, the programme manager for CARTA said the continent needed to produce a critical mass of high-quality graduates trained to address the complex issues surrounding health and development in Africa.

''The programme will help create a culture of collaborative research among students by facilitating contact between them and global experts. This will increase exposure to current debates and literature in the range of fields relevant to public and population health to reduce professional isolation,'' Prof. Alubo clarified.

African universities forming the consortium are Makerere in Uganda, Moi and Nairobi in Kenya, University of Malawi, National University of Rwanda, University of Ibadan and University of Obafemi Awolowo both in Nigeria, the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and the University of Dar es Salaam.

Research institutes under the programme are Ifakara Health Institute (Tanzania), the African Population and Health Research Centre, (APHRC) based in Nairobi, Agricourt Health and Population Unit (South Africa) and KEMRI/Welcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya.