Origin and Contextualisation

Origin and Contextualisation

Science and technology influence society as never before. Scientific achievements continue to expand the frontier of knowledge at a sustained pace and increasingly contribute to technological progress that affects our ways of living and working.

Convinced that science, technology and innovation are critical to the development and economic growth of the continent, in January 2007, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union endorsed the Consolidated Plan of Action for Science and Technology in Africa and adopted the Addis Ababa Declaration on Scientific Research for Development . The CPA outlines programmes and specific policy issues and stressed the need for building the continent's capacities to harness, apply and develop science and technology in order to eradicate poverty, fight diseases, stem environmental degradation, and improve economic competitiveness.

The CPA erected on three interrelated conceptual pillars. These are: (a) capacity building (b) knowledge production, and (c) technological innovation. Capacity building in this context refers to the creation, improvement and mobilization of human skills, physical infrastructures, financial resources and the necessary policies for science and technology to be produced and used to solve specific African problems.

Recent years have marked a new era of institutional stability in the SADC region. In keeping with the need to develop competitive capacity and capability as well as a long-term view for the role of science and technology (S&T) in industrial development, SADC Ministers of Science and Technology expressed the need to further develop institutional and S&T policy capacity in the region through training in science and technology policy.

In December 2008 the SADC Science and Technology Ministers endorsed the Science Policy training for SADC Senior officials, and mandated South Africa to lead the process towards the initiation of the training. UNESCO was contacted to ensure a balanced approach in putting forward the different aspects to science, technology and innovation policy internationally.

The role of UNESCO in STI policy is threefold: a think tank on policy development; a guide for national policy reforms; and a catalyst for regional and international cooperation. UNESCO cooperates with African Member States in formulating their S&T policies, strategies and plans as well as in the reform of their S&T systems by bringing to light policy options for the governance of S&T systems in the global and national context; supporting participatory policy formulation and/or reviews to improve the management of S&T effort at the national level.

Africa is one of the two global priorities at UNESCO and the Organization has accompanied the AU in these efforts to put science and technology on the agenda for the economic development of the African continent. To date over 25 African member States have requested assistance from UNESCO, via their Governments, for the review and reformulation of their national STI policies. UNESCO cooperates with Member States in the formulation STI policies based on credible information through the collection and use of STI data, with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). This involves building of national statistical capacity; training of national personnel, and provision of advice and support to in-country statistical activities. Capacity building in STI policy review and or reformulation and evidence based policy was conducted through 4 sub-regional workshops across the continent between 2008-2011.

UNESCO in collaboration with the Manchester Business School and its Manchester Institute of Innovation Research will deliver the training modules and tutor the participants online on specific themes particularly relevant to the Member States This will enable all participants to acquire knowledge on different themes relating to STI policy such as IP issues, university technology transfer, monitoring and evaluating STIP etc. MBS will also build capacity in one of the SADC universities, namely, the University of Zimbabwe (selected through a tender procedure), to take the course forward with the view that the SADC university will in the long-term elevate the training to a post-graduate course.

This course will run for one year and highlight changes in the global environment to focus on ongoing transformations in policy mixes (and the portfolio of policy instruments), the growing role of demand driven policies (within which procurement policies is an important component), capacity building and the central role of universities, evolving regional dimensions and the evolution of policymaking / policy processes (including the use of foresight and vision shaping, changing nature and role of indicators, professionalization of implementation, repositioning of evaluation in the policy cycle). Special focus will be made on the role of public debates, in the African context (and corresponding transformations of national policies and organisations) and the fast changing role of public research organisations.