Posted on March 09, 2023
In 2019, the Peer-Learning for Emerging Researchers' Knowledge and Advancement (PERKA) project was launched, funded through a grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) to South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), and implemented in collaboration with the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship (CAS) at the University of Pretoria (UP).
The focus of the project was to develop an evidence-based understanding of the factors that enable, and the characteristics of, successful postdoctoral fellowships in Africa. As a primary output of the project, a set of guidelines entitled, Designing and Implementing Impactful Post-PhD Support Programmes in Africa – Lessons learned from 10 African programmes, was launched at the International Convening on Higher Education Capacity Enhancement which was held on 6 and 7 December 2022 alongside the World Science Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.
The guidelines propose a tool for designing and implementing early-career researcher (ECR) training programmes for academic institutions, funding agencies, regional and continental entities, and other stakeholders. The guidelines are available for download here.
The International Convening, which was attended by more than 100 delegates, facilitated discussions that reaffirmed some of the challenges that ECRs face, as documented in the guidelines, and consolidated the learnings of ECR development across Africa. A communiqué, which documents the discussions and recommendations emerging from the high-level convening, has been published. This communiqué has been shared with stakeholders who attended the convening, including policymakers, academic institution heads, and research funders. The communiqué is available for download here.
Professor Frans Swanepoel, the PERKA Principal Investigator, noted that, “It is exciting to see the growing interest in early career researcher development across the continent. Building the next generation of researchers is imperative if we want to see African science identifying solutions for Africa’s complex sustainability challenges. We hope that the guidelines will enable stakeholders interested in implementing or funding post-PhD support programmes to be intentional and impactful in their efforts”.
A proposal is currently being developed for the second phase of the PERKA project. PERKA Phase II will consolidate the regional stakeholder engagement commenced in Phase I and cultivate strategic intentionality on the part of African institutions and funders to take ownership of and invest in support for early career researchers. Phase II will include two additional African Early Career Researcher Meetings (AECRM), building on the successes of the first AECRM held in November 2022. Phase II events are scheduled to commence in October 2023.
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