The decline of Africa’s higher education sector can be seen in overcrowded lecture rooms, crumbling infrastructure, obsolete curricula and, in many cases, poor and outdated pedagogy and inadequate funding. These factors, together with low research outputs and weak links to industry, mean that the sector is unable to meet the demands of Africa in the 21st century.
Over the past several years, TrustAfrica has worked to build a continent-wide movement to revitalize the higher education sector. It has forged partnerships with pan-African and international organizations and brought together a range of stakeholders, including leaders from government, business, students, academic unions and civil society as well as educators.
National-level dialogues in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda were followed in March 2015 with the first-ever Continental Summit on Higher Education hosted by President Macky Sall of Senegal. The summit was attended by key stakeholders from across the continent, including high-level officials such as ministers and vice chancellors. Among the dignitaries at the summit were Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Ms. Oby Ezekwesili, former Vice President for Africa of the World Bank.
The summit’s Declaration and Action Plan, which set out a bold agenda to transform the African higher education sector, was tabled by President Sall at the 25th session of Assembly of the African Union in June 2015. Consequently, the AU established a group of ten Heads of State led by President Sall to champion education, science and technology on the continent. We are working closely with the Government of Senegal to support the Heads of State group.
Other efforts to advance the summit’s action plan include national summits in Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania to set priorities for transforming their higher education sectors.
Despite its recognized role as an engine for economic growth, African agriculture remains hobbled by inadequate public spending and policies. This is particularly true for smallholder farming, where productivity boosts could lead to food security and more widely shared prosperity.
Since 2009, TrustAfrica has been working with farmers’ organizations to strengthen their ability to hold their governments to account to commitments they made as members of the African Union, including allocating 10 percent of national budgets to the sector.
Grants have supported advocacy by smallholder farmers’ organizations, civil society organizations and policy research organizations in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Building on previous successes, partners continue to petition for transparency in national budget allocations to agriculture, better support and provision of extension and advisory services and a bigger role for smallholders in the agriculture value chain.
Current and future work includes continued support for increasing the capacity of these groups to participate in policymaking processes, with attention to helping advocates with tabling their policy requests and advancing smallholder issues at the continental level.
A knowledge hub and interactive discussion platform is in the works for better information sharing among advocacy networks, as is the development of a community of practice on agriculture advocacy.
The Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT) is a public interest environmental organization, based in Tanzania. Its purpose is to foster sound natural resources management and environmental protection.
LEAT received a grant through our Agriculture Advocacy Project which seeks to build a more robust advocacy movement for sustainable and equitable agricultural development in Africa. It encourages civil society to make use of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) to hold governments more accountable to their constituents working in agriculture. In August 2011, LEAT received a $30,000 grant to develop a campaign to increase the budget for the agriculture sector in Tanzania, in order to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Specifically, the campaign is for a 10% increase in the National Budget for agriculture in the years 2012-2013.
In light of its objectives, LEAT produced a number of advocacy materials.
As part of its strategy to use the arts and cultural activism as a means to advance social and political change, TrustAfrica's Zimbabwe Alliance, in conjunction with Magamba Cultural Activist Network and Pemberi Trust organized an exciting program in Harare Zimbabwe, May 1-6. Entitled "Create, Inspire, Change," the festival offered a platform to the usually marginalized youth voices and created an inspiring space for a wide range of artistic expression, including Hip Hop, Reggae, Graffiti, spoken word, painting, and theatre as a mechanism for addressing issues related to democracy, governance and social justice. Take a look at the video created from the event.
At TrustAfrica, we seek to generate new philanthropic resources among our fellow Africans, whether living on the continent or among the diaspora.
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- Your gift can help us develop cohesive African responses to some of our region’s most urgent challenges.
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TrustAfrica established the International Criminal Justice (ICJ) Fund in 2012 to support civil society’s efforts to improve accountability mechanisms for grave crimes in Africa. We work at national, regional and international levels, where we use different strategies to foster justice and reconciliation, often following protracted conflict.
At the national level, we have placed victims at the center of our engagement and enhanced the work of key organizations in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda.
At the regional and international level, we have sought to address the declining legitimacy of the International Criminal Court and seize opportunities presented by new African accountability mechanisms (including the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the proposed African Union Transitional Justice Policy Framework) by facilitating cross-continental experience sharing and learning.
These activities have contributed significantly towards building a well-networked and robust advocacy movement capable of addressing the challenges facing the implementation of international criminal justice in Africa.
In 2015, Fund activities included building the capacity of civil society organizations; fostering the development of research and data on African ICJ and transitional justice processes; and supporting strategy workshops, cross-continental learning initiatives, and joint advocacy missions at key regional and international meetings. At the center of this work is the need to re-focus attention on the plight of victims and governments’ responsibility to provide redress, a strategy that has proven effective in mobilizing constituencies to advocate for criminal and transitional justice.
One such initiative has been our engagement with the trial of Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar, Senegal. Since the trial began on 20 July 2015, the Fund has been working closely with a consortium of civil society organizations and Senegalese law graduates to monitor, document, and share information on proceedings across various platforms. The ICJ Fund trained a group of law graduates from Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar, Senegal, to monitor and provide daily reports on the proceedings in both French and English. The work of these students provides an invaluable resource to activists and legal experts working on criminal justice issues in Africa and beyond. As the trial reopened on 8 February 2016, the media and other key partners highlighted TrustAfrica’s work in supporting documentation and monitoring of the ground-breaking trial, and developing the skills of young Africans to lead justice and accountability processes on the continent.
A 2015 interim evaluation of our work found that by bringing together major human rights grant-makers the Fund has been able to expand the operational scope and diversity of their investments in Africa. The evaluation also noted that the Fund has been adept in its response to the evolving climate for international criminal justice work on the continent and has supported fresh and bold advocacy initiatives.
The Fund continues to help sustain the efforts of its partners and to explore opportunities to expand its work in parts of Central Africa where accountability processes are just beginning. It is also deepening its engagements with continental mechanisms, including improving the African Court’s international criminal justice mandate – according a special role for victim participation and engaging groups working on documentation to improve these for litigation.
The ZimAlliance is a donor collaborative formed in 2010 to seize the opportunity created by the constitutional reform process and general elections to strengthen the role of civil society in influencing the country’s transition to democracy.
Emphasis has been on strengthening the capacity of civil society to advance informed and effective citizen participation and secure human rights and democracy.
The alliance’s grants, convenings, capacity building and technical support have enabled civil society partners to design creative, coordinated responses that have built regional and international solidarity, amplified the voices of marginalized groups, and educated citizens to mobilize others and engage with policymakers.
In partnership with Magamba Network, we used our Changemakers Hub platform to convene several discussions to catalyse youth to promote democracy and social change in Zimbabwe. Themes included arts for social change, new media, citizen journalism and freedom of expression.
We recently offered a skills training workshop for youths, citizen journalists and community organizers that explored how to use information communications technology (ICT) and geographical information systems (GIS) in campaigns to enhance social service delivery and monitor the political environment.
We also commissioned leading academics and thinker-activists from a range of disciplines to contribute to a book entitled Beyond the crisis: Zimbabwe’s prospects for transformation [link to order book], and hosted a high-level national convening to launch the book and promote dialogue on the theme.
We are also investing in efforts to strengthen community-based organizations through a series of residents’ forums in partnership with Amandla Network.
Our aim is to contribute to rebuilding a permanent national civil society platform that has the ability to hold the state accountable to all of its citizens.