In September 2022, the Rift Valley Institute in collaboration with Carnegie Corporation and the Open Society University Network launched the first cohort of the Early Career Researchers' Training, part of the RVI's Research Community of Practice (RCoP) project. The project aims to contribute to the development of young professional researchers from East and Central Africa through the development of a community of practice – a network of researchers working in the region. The cohort of researchers will be trained through six months of mentorship, a series of learning workshops and seminars on research and writing.
The project kicked off with a week-long residential training at Stoni Athi Resort in Kenya from 18-23 September 2022. It brought together 18 enthusiastic early career researchers from the DRC, Somalia, Somaliland and South Sudan. Among them, seven were refugee students from Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
The training was structured into modules that sought to enable the students to understand the fundamentals and the context of conducting research in the countries they represent. The course was taught by seasoned researchers who not only brought their academic expertise on board but also shared their lived experiences of conducting research and publishing. These experts included Dr Kuyang Harriet Logo of the University of Juba and Dr Nasir Ali of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Hargeysa in Somaliland.
Throughout the week, the students participated in lectures, group and plenary discussions that aimed to guide the development of their research proposals. They also explored the place of local knowledge in decolonizing knowledge production and consumption. In addition to these intellectual explorations, students enjoyed a cultural evening that presented them with an opportunity to showcase and explore various cultural aspects of the clans and tribes of the countries they represented.
Over the next six months, the students will attend weekly online classes on research and work alongside mentors to refine their research proposals, conduct field research and publish their findings. Similarly, in an effort to build a research community of practice, the project will support the students to participate in conferences and seminars where they will engage with expert researchers from the region.