We aim to enhance the capacities of the evidence ecosystems (sectoral, national, regional, Africa-wide) to promote Africa’s transformational development. For us, this involves systematically enhancing capacities for evidence production, evidence use and knowledge brokering at three levels: individual, organisational, and systemic/institutional.
At the individual level, building capacities of individuals is mainly through training, mentorship, internship, offering accredited qualifications and postgraduate supervision. At the organisational level, this ideally involves building relations with partners to co-produce, and thus learn from one another. We also support the professional development of our own staff. At the systemic level, we support evidence communities to not only learn from one another through working groups, communities of practice and broader networks but also to institutionalise evidence use across systems. And we conduct research on evidence capacities.
All engagements under this portfolio are informed by a theory of change and ACE’s values, to build trusting long-lasting relationships through which we share capacities and learn together.
For more information or queries about any of our evidence capacities work, feel free to contact our portfolio lead, Carina van Rooyen at cvanrooyen[at]uj.ac.za.
We provide both ad hoc (supply- and demand-driven) and formalised training. We have a menu on areas on which we provide ad hoc training, and if demand-driven these are tailored for the specific request. Our formalised training is currently through a postgraduate short-learning course, approved by the University of Johannesburg. The short-learning course is an introduction to evidence-informed decision-making aimed at building and strengthening individuals’ capacity to retrieve, interpret, synthesise, and utilise research evidence in decision-making. Our training provides hands-on practical learning experiences and utilises ‘communities of practice’ for learning.
We have previously engaged in training with partners such as:
- KwaZulu-Natal Health department
- South African government Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
- South African government Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
- North-West University
- University of South Africa
- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
- Makerere University
- Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
We annually accept masters and doctoral students to work with us on their postgraduate studies broadly related to evidence-informed decision-making and/or evidence synthesis. We not only provide supervision but also offer our students the opportunity to become part of a community of practice on evidence-informed decision-making.
Learn more about our current PhD students and masters students and get a sense of the diversity of topics related to evidence-informed decision-making they are researching.
If you are interested in postgraduate studies related to evidence-informed decision-making in Africa, get in touch: we’re keen to learn with you!
MENTORING AND LEARNING EXCHANGES
Through the University of Johannesburg-led programme to Build Capacity to Use Research Evidence (UJ-BCURE), we were involved in numerous mentoring opportunities. Our learnings from these have been published in an academic article, entitled Reflections on mentoring experiences for evidence-informed decision-making in South Africa and Malawi‘.
We also been able to explore shared learning through short learning exchanges (for example, with Dr Rhona Mijumbi, director of the Centre for Rapid Evidence Synthesis at Makerere University). We are looking forward to additional such opportunities.
We also strongly encourage our ACE staff to draw on mentors who provide guidance, motivation, and overall support.
Each year, we welcome Queen Elizabeth Scholars from McMaster University in Canada at our Centre for three months. Previous scholars included Malcolm Hartman, Steven Chen, Peter Youssef, Kathy Huang, Kartik Sharma, and Peter Belesiotis. You can view the insights these scholars shared about their internships, by clicking on their names.
Our ACE colleague Zafeer Ravat has also had the opportunity to join the McMaster Health Forum in Canada for a three-month period on a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship.
At the beginning of 2020, we launched the ACE Development Programme to provide recent matriculants with an opportunity to gain practical work experience and develop skills on-the-job.
PROFESSIONAL STAFF DEVELOPMENT
The aim of our Professional Staff Development programme at ACE is to guide our staff on their decisions regarding their further development and training and to support them in initiatives and activities they take on to enhance their capacities and skills. We foster staff development through seminars, workshops, conferences, study bursaries, mentorships, formal training, and other development mechanisms.
RESEARCH ON EVIDENCE CAPACITIES
To ensure that the initiatives we take regarding evidence capacities are evidence-informed, we conduct research on evidence capacities. Two recent research projects are:
- Student support in postgraduate blended learning programmes
We conducted an evidence mapping exercise to learn from effective student support initiatives in blended learning programmes elsewhere in the world, to inform the design of our own post-graduate student support programme.
- Scoping study of impact evaluation capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa
In this project, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, we explored the capacity in sub-Saharan Africa to conduct impact evaluations.