For more than a decade, the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) has aimed to coordinate and strengthen excellence in doctoral education across the African continent.
Housed within Stellenbosch University International (SUI), which forms part of the Africa Centre for Scholarship (ACS) at Stellenbosch University (SU), the ADA is effectively positioned to consolidate and expand SU's African networks.
To date the ADA has hosted more than 4 500 delegates from 53 countries mostly in Africa, but also from other parts of the world.
According to Corina du Toit, Programme Manager: ADA, the ADA also wants to help position SU as Africa's top rated research university and strengthen SU's reputation as a top institution for PhD production on the continent.
“To date, we are the only academy that focuses on PhD development alone in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region. Bringing expertise and new knowledge from all over the world to Africa, we have a network of presenters from SU, South Africa, Europe and North America. We draw on their expertise to try and offer the best possible training opportunity in South Africa," says Du Toit.
The ADA's flagship programme is the bi-annual, two-week long doctoral schools, which take place every year in summer (January) and winter (June–July), offering high impact research and methodology training, as well as options in academic preparedness and career development.
Since the ADA's inception in 2009, leading scholars have presented weeklong courses to doctoral candidates on topics ranging from PhD preparation, key concepts in methodology, academic writing skills, the use of qualitative and quantitative tools (SPSS, R, MAXQDA and ATLAS.ti), survey and interview methods, publishing articles and preparing for a research career (including training in doctoral supervision).
With SU's vision to be Africa's leading research intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, and where knowledge is advanced in service of society, the University has over the past ten years established bilateral and multilateral relationships with many of Africa's leading institutions and academic networks.
Since 2016, the ADA has conceptualised joint doctoral schools with partner universities in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Namibia through funding by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
“These doctoral schools at our partners have given the ADA the opportunity to collaborate with different universities, offering capacity development opportunities according to the needs of the home university. Recently the programme was elevated to a separate programme alongside the ADA, with a number of joint schools planned over the next three years.
“We want to give the students an opportunity to learn from the best and take back to their home institutions and also provide a networking opportunity for students to collaborate and build relationships," says Du Toit.
This year's Summer Doctoral School took place over two weeks from 6 to 17 January at SU. The closing event during the Summer School included a keynote address by Prof Thuli Madonsela, the Chair in Social Justice at SU, who focused on the theme, “Africa's renewal through research for justice and development."
Madonsela emphasised the importance of doing research that will “serve the African continent" and help with promoting social justice.
She also said that it was important that those with the necessary skills and knowledge stayed in Africa to help the continent. “Despite the challenges on the continent, research can be used to help Africa be the continent it has the potential to be. It is up to everyone to bring change and get our continent on track," said Madonsela.
For more information on the ADA click here.
Photo by Refiloe Nkhasi.