Proposal submitted and funded for the ERAA

1. Background and Objectives of the ERAA

Recognizing the critical role of education in social and economic development, and acknowledging the role of research in the formulation and implementation of educational policy and reforms, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the African Development Bank’s focal point on capacity building—the African Development Institute (ADI/AfDB)--have agreed to partner in launching the Education Research in Africa Award (ERAA), with the initial financial support ofthe Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC).The determination of KOAFEC to assist Africa is well placedif we refer to the joint Declaration of the KOAFEC, “Rising Africa, Together with Korea». In this declaration, theKorean side explicitly agreed to continue pursuing long-term economic cooperation with Africa, in order to support the continent’s effort to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth. In particular, Koreaagreed to help Africa meet various challenges.

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) is a prestigious forum foreducation and training actors in African education.By joining forces with ADI,it could contribute to thebuilding of synergy and more effective deliveryin capacity building in the area of education and training research. In fact, ADEAis also a champion in providing intellectual leadership to the sector through studies and education policy analysis, consultation and dialogue.  Initially conceived and launched as the Donors to African Education (DAE) by the World Bank in 1988, it was transformed in 1995 to ADEA with a view to expanding the nexus of dialogue and partnership for educational development in Africa.

ADEA brings together Ministers of Education in Africa, development agencies, foundations, universities, NGOs, researchers and education professionals to dialogue on African education. The association also supports the initiation of studies on key issues pertaining to education in Africa and organizes meetings,in particular its well-attended biennial meetings that gather hundreds of delegates to examine and discuss major constraints and related issues. ADEA has been successful in mobilizing African education Ministers with the objective to initiate policy dialogue between the Ministers of Finance and Education and to transform approaches for financing education. ADEA, which is supported by the AfDB and located in its Temporary HQ, is operating in close collaboration with the AfDB’s Units.

The mandate of the African Development Institute (ADI) is crucial in the Bank’s Medium Term Strategy (MTS). ADI conducts training and other capacity development activities to support the effectiveness of Bank-funded operations. Since 2010, ADI has been the Focal point of the AfDB Group in capacity building, which is a big challenge requiring a new way ofdoing business in strengthening the Bank’s role as a Knowledge Institution and a number one in CD in Africa. The main respective pillars of the Institute’sstrategy are as follows:  i) enhancing partnerships in collaborating with clients and other institutions (Pillar 2); ii) promoting knowledge sharing (Pillar 3); iii)improving application ofknowledge to enhance efficiency of bankoperations (Pillar 4).Research and education are essential in capacity building and knowledge sharing.

The Bank and ADEA have invested heavily in research and analytical work in order to support their main respective missions: the promotion of policy dialogue, change and transformative reforms in African education. This also entails capacity building among its key stakeholders: African Ministers of education, senior policy makers, bilateral and multilateral funding and technical agencies, international and national non-governmental institutions, civil society organizations and education practitioners at large.

Current constraints of educational research

The Bank and ADEA’s involvement in commissioning research conducted by Africa-based researchers has clearly demonstrated the need to engage in building the capacity of existing African researchers to provide a higher quality of research. This situation exists because of many factors, such as limited resources for undertaking research, difficulties associated with language and modes of communication of research findings (for example having to write in what are effectively foreign languages), reliance on theories and constructs that are incompatible with the complexities of African education, and constraints of sharing research with the wider public. It could also be noted that few ministries of education have a well-developed research culture that impacts the direction of decision-making. Moreover, too often when research is needed there is an over-reliance on Western researchers who utilize theories, constructs and practices that are not fully appropriate to  the African context, thereby resulting in an imposition of educational practices which are not particularly well-suited to the African educational context.

Over the years much has been done to stimulate ministries of education, research organizations, universities and NGOs to get more involved in various types of educational research, or make more and better usage of the work that has been done. Biennales have offered excellent opportunities to solicit ‘state-of-the-art’ research papers, investigate what have been identified as key policy issues, practices and experiences in implementing policy on the ground. In addition, institutions and individual experts have been invited to synthesize their insights in their area of work. This work has begun to demonstrate the strengths of what research can contribute, as well as the capacity constraints faced by ministries, research institutions and researchers. It is clear that much work needs to be done to improve human capabilities in doing research and the capacity of ministries and tertiary education institutions to facilitate both the production and the utilization of research, especially of the type that is directly relevant for policy and practice development.

Objectives of ERAA

ADEA and ADI will launch in 2012 the Education Research in Africa Award with the support ofthe KOAFEC.

This Award has the following broad objectives:

  • Strengthening the link between education research and education policy-making and practice in Africa
  • Encouraging and supporting Africa-based researchers and their institutions to produce and disseminate rigorous and relevant research that stimulates innovative policy-making for Africa;
  • Facilitating interaction between researchers and policy-makers in order to increase the use of research findings in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Ultimately, the ERAA (ERAA) will also seek to institutionalize a culture of high-quality, relevant educational research in African universities, research networks and institutes. It will do so by rewarding research on innovative education policy and practices in Africa. Indeed, it is in this area that one can find the most fertile entry points for the interface between research and decision-making.

2. Contents and methodology of the implementation

Building a wide network of Partners around the Award

Being a network of ADEA and ADI will ensure a large buy-in of the rationale for the Award. Indeed, the success of the Award will hinge on the support ADI and ADEA will be able to muster from key actors such as the African research networks and institutes, ministries of education, their technical and financial partners (bilateral and multilateral development agencies), and civil society organizations and other interested parties (e.g. media groups, and foundations).

This award will be managed and implemented with the support of Educationwithout Borders (EWB) and Seoul National University (SNU) of Korea. EWB and SNU will also provide opportunities for further training for the researchers who win the various categories of the Award. This support will come in the form of scholarships, post-doctoral research opportunities and will be deducted from the Awards.

3. Frequency, Award Categories and Eligibility Criteria

The award is granted every year starting in 2012. It is composed of four categories:

Category 1: Emerging Educational Researcher

An African educational researcher based in Africa, aged 40 maximum on December 31, 2012, who has conducted at least an outstanding and relevant piece of research can compete in this category.

Category 2: Accomplished Educational Researcher

An African educational researcher based in Africa for at least three consecutive years at the time of the submission, and who has gained recognition among peers and/or the education community for his or her research production and impact, can compete in this category.

Category 3: Outstanding Mentor of Educational Researchers

An African (based in Africa or elsewhere) who is an accomplished researcher, recognized for his or her contribution to strengthening research capacity through supporting the professional development of Africa-based educational researchers can compete in this category.

Category 4: Enabling Institutional Environment for Educational Research

A non profit African institution (center, institute, division, department, faculty, or unit) recognized for its leadership and ability to promote and sustain production and dissemination of quality and relevant research in education can compete in this category

Detailed description and criteria for selection of awardees in the various categories of the Award, and strategies and processes of implementation are articulated in the statutes.

Components of the Awards

The award is made up of monetary and in-kind components. The in-kind component includes a study trip to the University of Seoul, South Korea.

 Management of the Award Program

A Scientific Committee (SC) is responsible for the administration of the Award program, the validation of applications, the selection and convening of jury members and the certification of award recipients, including background check to ensure professionally ethical behavior regarding all elements of the research process.

The SC comprises 7 to 11 appointed members, including the chair, and2 ex-officio from ADEA and AfDB/ADI. The members of the SC are individuals with expertise and experience in development and utilization of research in Africa, drawn from academia, education councils and boards, education research networks, education research community at large, African Ministries in charge of education, training and research, the private sector and networks of Teacher Unions.

The SC can co-opt additional members on an ad hoc basis for specific tasks. The appointed members of the SC serve an initial term of two cycles with the possibility of renewing for a maximum of one additional cycle. The number of members who may serve an additional cycle is determined during the second cycle. The renewal of the members is done in a staggered manner to ensure institutional memory and continuity.Out of the appointed members of the SC, at least half should be based in Africa and the others can come from anywhere in the world. The composition of the SC should reflect the regional and linguistic diversity that exists on the African continent and commitment for gender balance.

Composition of Juries

For each award category, there is a jury comprising 3 members (including the chair) appointed by ADEA. The jury is composed in such a way that it collectively has the capacity to evaluate submissions in both English and French.

At least 2 members of any jury should be based in Africa and the third one can come from anywhere in the world. The composition of each jury should reflect the regional and linguistic diversity that exists on the African continent, as well as gender representation.

Categories 1 & 2 – Members of the jury should have a demonstrated expertise in diverse research methodologies and familiarity with the challenges associated with engaging in research on the African continent. They should have a sustained history of engaging in research. All members of the jury should have a demonstrated knowledge of the educational circumstances and educational policy issues on the African continent.  Additionally, at least one member should have experience in leveraging research to inform educational policy and practice.