As Africa endeavours to achieve the first of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ─ reducing the number of poor and hungry people by one-half by 2015 - hunger remains linked to poverty among the poor and vulnerable. Food insecurity is a major cause of hunger and malnutrition that blocks investment prospects and economic growth. Strategies to achieve MDGs in Africa, therefore, must focus on improving livelihoods and service delivery in rural areas.
Agriculture is the economic driving force in most African countries. Research in Africa is generating agricultural technologies that can improve food security but the impact is yet to be felt in SSA households in general and East and Central Africa (ECA) in particular. Appropriate information and communication management (ICM) is necessary to support food security by facilitating agricultural research and technology uptake. Poor communication of information on emerging technologies, however, limits the impact of agricultural research. In SSA and ECA, the adoption of modern information communication technologies (ICTs) lags behind that of the rest of the world. Most graduates of agriculture and related programmes often do not acquire adequate capacity to integrate ICT in communicating agricultural knowledge. On the other hand, ICT specialists lack technical capacity to understand, package and communicate new developments in science.
The postgraduate programme in agricultural information and communication management (AICM) is one of the key strategies set out to realize the objective of enhancing the contribution of information and communication to improved and sustainable productivity, and to add value and competitiveness to the regional agricultural system. The programme was born through extensive consultations with national, regional and international partners proposed long-term training aimed at producing AICM professionals to complement rather than duplicate national efforts that centred on short-term skills training. Development of the programme at postgraduate level was strongly supported by the findings of a training needs assessment (TNA) undertaken by the
Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN) of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA) in 2005 that established that agricultural professionals of all cadres in the region with AICM skills are few or lacking. More specifically, agricultural researchers, educators and technologists in national agricultural research systems (NARIs), universities and extension services lack skills that can make them self-sufficient in meeting basic information needs to generate and disseminate technology.
The programme is aimed at filling the deficiencies that are currently noticeable in specific areas including digitized or electronic content; geographical information systems (GIS); developing and managing databases; editing scientific manuscripts; graphic design and desktop publishing; managing research data; using the Internet to receive and disseminate information; and managing ICT/ICM technology and networks. The programme is expected to bolster the effective communication and publication of agricultural research results in the region. Existing university programmes do not have adequate ICT/ICM content, explaining the low ICT/ICM competency among graduates. The programme is responding to the growing recognition that ICM is emerging as a ‗new‘ profession in development.
Entry at the postgraduate level is justified by four main reasons:
i) It is an appropriate entry point for agricultural professionals wishing to pursue research and academics, and also those who are more inclined towards careers in industry;
ii) It will facilitate admission of candidates with diverse undergraduate training backgrounds, thereby widening the profile of beneficiaries to include those from non-agricultural fields, such as journalists and anthropologists;
iii) It will generate a high turnover of graduates, thereby providing the necessary critical mass of trained professionals;
iv) It will provide opportunities for mid-career training of extension and other development workers who need re-training when combined with the postgraduate diploma as a possible exit level.
The programme aims to contribute to improving food security and reducing poverty in the ASARECA sub-region by producing graduates who are:
i) Knowledgeable in both agricultural sciences and information and communication management capable of designing and managing agricultural information and knowledge management systems;
ii) Capable of providing support to the different agricultural Information and knowledge users, generators, and disseminators;
iii) Competent to carry out basic and applied research in AICM aimed at addressing key problems and push the frontiers of knowledge in the area of AICM;
iv) At the end of the MSc programme in AICM all graduates will be expected to:
v) Demonstrate understanding and appreciation of key issues and trends in agricultural sciences;
vi) Demonstrate understanding and appreciation of the role of AICM in development
vii) Apply the tools, techniques and theories of management science in agricultural information resources and systems;
viii) Build and manage AICM teams;
ix) Select and apply ICT tools, media and techniques in collecting, organizing and disseminating agricultural information products and services;
x) Design and develop, manage and evaluate computer-based agricultural information and knowledge systems;
xi) Develop, select and use appropriate media, ICT tools and techniques to communicate agricultural information and technologies to suit different audiences;
xii) Package and repackage agricultural information content for different audiences
xiii) Assist in formulation and implementation of ICT policies and strategies at all levels of society;
xiv) Assist with scientific editing and publishing;
xv) Facilitate sharing agricultural knowledge, including indigenous knowledge;
xvi) Acquire attributes and values that will enhance their competence and confidence as professionals and managers.
In addition, the graduates of the Agricultural Knowledge Management Stream, Agricultural Communication Management Stream, Records and Archives Management Stream, Web Resources Management, and the thesis option will have the following skills and knowledge related to their areas of specialization:
I) Agricultural Knowledge Management Specialization
i) Demonstrate understanding and application of concepts, techniques and theories of acquiring, enlisting, organizing, processing and communication of knowledge;
ii) Design, implement and operate user-centred computer-based agricultural knowledge management systems;
iii) Demonstrate understanding and application of the principles of operating Web-based applications and databases for agricultural knowledge management.
II) Agricultural Communication Management Specialization
i) Design and apply appropriate media, extension strategies, techniques, and tools to disseminate agricultural information and technologies at different levels and contexts;
ii) Design, apply and evaluate of public relations plans, strategies, techniques and tools to communicate agricultural information to the general public;
iii) Collect and report on agricultural facts and information at a professional level;
iv) Write and publish agricultural articles, news, and reports for extension work by using relevant media;
v) Present public relations (PR) products including news releases and speeches.
III) Records and Archives Management Specialization
i) Demonstrate understanding and application of concepts, techniques and theories of records and archives management;
ii) Design, implement and operate user-centred computer-based records and archives management systems;
iii) Demonstrate appreciation of the relationship between record management and the management and production of agricultural information and knowledge.
IV) Web Resources Management Specialization
i) Demonstrate understanding and application of concepts, techniques and networking tools and Internet resources management;
ii) Design and implement networks and World Wide Web (WWW) services on Web servers.
V) Scholarly Publishing Stream
i) Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and practice of scientific writing, editing and publishing as applied in technical and scholarly publications in agriculture;
ii) Designing and manage editorial and publication processes and programmes of different types of scholarly works (journals, monographs, textbooks, symposia and conference proceedings, etc) as a business;
iii) Advise agricultural researchers on selection of the right media for publication of scientific works and promoting scholarly publishing among scientists of various types of organisations.
VI) The Thesis option
i) Design, develop implementation and critical evaluation of AICM research;
ii) Evaluate, appreciate and promote research outputs in AICM.
The general admission requirements for the MSc programme of Egerton University shall apply. In addition the candidate will satisfy the following requirements:
i) Successful completion of academic requirements of the BSc/BA degree in agricultural, biological sciences, communication, Library studies, computing sciences, development or any related areas from Egerton Universityor any other accredited university,
ii) Proof of knowledge in or, successful completion of the following course units from accredited universities: Principles of Crop and Livestock Production, Natural Resources Management, Fundamentals of Computer Programming and Fundamentals of Computing and Networks for exemption from remedial courses
Course Structure and Duration
The MSc in AICM is structured as thesis and non-thesis options. The thesis option consists of course work and a thesis. The non-thesis option consists of an expanded course work and a project.
i) The coursework:
a) The course work of the thesis option consists of 24 credit hours of core and, in universities that allow more credit hours of course work for an MSc degree, a range of elective course unitsare available;
b) The course work of the non-thesis option consists of 24 credit hours of core, 9 credit hours of specialization courses, and elective courses totalling 6 credit hours;
c) There are five streams of specialization for the non-thesis option students, namely, Agricultural Knowledge Management, Agricultural Communication Management, Records and Archives Management, Web Resources Management, and Scholarly Publishing. Two course units of three credit hours each and a project are offered under each cluster or stream of specialization.
Remedial course units in agricultural science and ICT are recommended for students who lack agricultural or ICT background.
ii) Remedial coursework:
a) Remedial coursework is mandatory and students must pass them in order to graduate. The minimum number of remedial courses to be taken by each student is 2 and the maximum is 4 courses. Remedial courses are examinable on pass/fail basis if offered concurrently with the main coursework;
b) The remedial course units for students without agricultural background are Principles of Crop and Livestock Production and Natural Resources Management; each consists of three credit hours. The remedial course units for students without ICT background T Fundamentals of Computer Programming (four credit hours) and Fundamentals of Computing and Networks (four credit hours);
c) Students are expected to enrol for remedial courses before the main units in the MSc in AICM programme. They can also enrol for the remedial courses concurrently with the MSc course units.
iii) Core (compulsory) courses:
Students will be required to take 10 course units totalling 24 credit hours. These courses cover the four main knowledge areas – Information Management, Information Technology, Communication Management and Agricultural Science. Thesis and non-thesis students will be examined in all the core courses. For non-thesis option the core
coursework may be reduced by one to allow students to take one more specialization course to make a total of three. Students must present their theses before graduating..
The courses are coded as follows: the code AICM refers to the programme of Agricultural Information and Communication Management, the first digit represents the level of training: 7 for MSc degree programme and 6 for remedial courses; the second digit represents the level of specialization:
i) Agricultural Knowledge Management;
ii) Agricultural Communication and Extension;
iv) Specialization Courses;
v) AICM Support Courses;
vi) Thesis when followed by 9 (AICM 799), Project when followed with 8 (AICM 798) and Seminars when followed by 7 (AICM 797).
The third digit refers to the series of course in a particular field.
The programme takes not less than 18 months and not more than 36 months to complete. The duration includes the time spent on remedial courses, core and elective courses of the MSc programme, and thesis or specialization courses and project. The first year is devoted to course work and students take up to 24 credit hours of core courses.The second year is partly devoted to course work (elective and specialization course units) and partly for thesis or project.
The programme will permit direct transfer of full credit hours in AICM from any participating university as long as both universities are using the regionally approved and equivalent curriculum and similar allocation of credit hours to the courses in question in accordance with the memorandum of understanding. However, credit transfer will be applied in accordance with the regulations of Egerton University.
All examinations for this programme shall be conducted in accordance with examination regulations as stipulated in the Egerton University Statute No. XXIX(3).
The grading of examinations for this programme shall be conducted in accordance with in Egerton University Statute No. XXIX(3).
To graduate a student shall be required to take and pass ALL scheduled courses within the stipulated period.
The Master of Science in Agricultural Information and Communication Management degree is not classified in accordance with Egerton University Statutes No. XXIX(3).