From January 23-25 2016, GDN held a Mid-Term Review Workshop with the teams of its "Building Research Capacities in Least Developed Countries" pilot program funded by IDRC.
The three teams from Bhutan, Ethiopia and Cambodia -Vietnam from GDN’s Building Research Capacity in Least Developed Countries program met for the first time together in Hanoi, VIetnam, where they worked for three days with GDN, their mentors, selected partners and international experts, to discuss their progress and the future of institutional capacity building in LDCs.
The objective of the workshop was three-fold: (i) to share experiences and knowledge across the teams; (ii) to kick-start an informed reflection on the impact of the program, at the institutional and individual level, and on how to measure it; and (iii) to provide training on project management to the teams, to strengthen areas identified by teams themselves, the GDN team and the mentors.
The grantee teams -- from Haramaya University, Ethiopia, the Institute of Gross National Happiness Studies, Bhutan, and the team of the "Journées de Tam Dao" Summer School from the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences and Royal University of Law and Economics of Cambodia -- discussed critically the progress of their individual projects against objectives of the program, persisting challenges and future prospects. The discussion included the teams' Scientific and Technical Advisors, external international experts, and policy makers from Vietnam and the GDN Program Unit.
The workshop brought to light the centrality of strengthening competencies in change management, resource mobilization, impact assessment, network building and institutional outreach (internal and external) for the successful implementation of research capacity building pilots in Least Developed Countries. The discussion also suggested that relatively small and self-contained pilots offer a precious opportunity to effectively implement new approaches to research capacity building in higher education systems, but that strategic institutional outreach is instrumental leverage these examples to impact the broader research culture, at both the institutional and systemic levels.
The interactions between the teams and experts and policy makers from the higher education sector in Vietnam suggested that academic institutions have to diversify their strategies to influence national efforts to reform the higher education systems, including through better media outreach, capacity building and research outreach at the level of relevant ministries, and broader institutional alliances, including with the private sector.
For the final 10 months of the program, in addition to activities already planned, the teams agreed to engage in the formulation of proposals for the institutionalization, in full or in part, of their pilots within their national higher education systems in which they operate.
With the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), this program will build, in innovative and structured ways, the institutional capacity of research actors in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to become catalysts of research, and research training efforts, in their region, including through stronger outreach.