EOI: Host the Utafiti Sera on Strengthening Equitable Access to Quality Higher Education in the Pandemic Environment in Kenya


Home / EOI: Host the Utafiti Sera on Strengthening Equitable Access to Quality Higher Education in the Pandemic Environment in Kenya

The Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) is an independent, non-partisan Pan-African not-for-profit organisation established in 2011 and located in Nairobi, Kenya. PASGR’s vision is a ‘vibrant African social science community addressing the continent’s public policy issues. PASGR seeks excellence in social science research for public policy. In partnership with individual academics and researchers, higher education institutions, research think tanks, civil society organisations, business and policy communities both in the region and internationally. PASGR supports the production and dissemination of policy-relevant research; designs and delivers suites of short professional development courses for researchers and policy actors, and facilitates the development of collaborative higher education programmes. To learn more about PASGR please click here.


PASGR with financial support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York seeks to explore means of strengthening equitable access to quality higher education (HE) in a pandemic environment in Kenya. This will be achieved through a sequence of activities that entail synthesizing emerging evidence, conducting supplementary small scale studies and examining policies in response to the wide-scale disruption on HE. A broad spectrum of higher education stakeholders will be convened to deliberate on the evidence and supported to use it in their policy and programme interventions. PASGR will leverage its Utafiti Sera model (Swahili phrase for research-policy) to build strategic alliances with various HE interest groups, public and private sector, communities, and policy actors with a genuine interest to shape public policy and influence the design of appropriate interventions and programmes that respond to disruptions of learning during pandemics such as COVID-19. Utafiti Sera is expressed in the form of “policy-communities” houses, which are spaces, places and processes for evidence-informed and guided policy engagement. Utafiti Sera houses set relevant agendas, generate debates and awareness, and provide comparative evidence for formulating and debating programme design, policies, or administrative and other forms of civic action. The approach intentionally creates safe spaces where researchers, policymakers and citizens obtain a better understanding of policy processes, are more aware and involved in the conceptualization, the conduct of research, and thus constitute a co-construction of the evidence. This is consistent with PASGR’s r research agenda that is embedded in African governance as well as changing policy priorities consistent with the 18 “social policy issues” described under the African Union’s (AU) Social Policy Framework.

Education is a critical social policy issue that is attracting global attention since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the closure of universities, thus, disrupting education programmes.  The adverse consequences on students, lecturers and university administrators, as well as on the achievement of specific university outputs such as graduation rates as well as research and knowledge production require further investigation. This project will therefore support the generation, synthesis, engagement and use of evidence on three thematic areas: (i) resourcing for access, equity and quality education during and post-COVID-19; (ii) opportunities for Public-Private Partnerships in strengthening access to Higher education; and, (iii) impact of the pandemic on postgraduate training and research and the future of emerging academics. The evidence generated will be used to engage key stakeholders and policy actors to influence policy that promotes equitable access to quality higher education in a pandemic environment. There are limited studies on what the universities could do to prepare for a recovery phase and to address the quality as well as the impact of online learning on excluded groups. This project seeks to address these gaps through a structured evidence generation and synthesis process and by stimulating the use of the evidence to inform and guide policy and programme options for strengthening access to higher education during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will be based in Kenya with a focus on Kenya’s higher education system and will run for two years. A cross-continental audience will be invited to participate in the policy forums to share their experiences and debate the research evidence. It is expected that project outcomes, that is, policy and programmatic interventions that strengthen equitable access to quality higher education during and post-COVID will be replicable in higher education systems across the continent and inspire stakeholders to re-imagine higher education in a post-pandemic era.

About Utafiti Sera

Utafiti Sera, supports, contributes to building and enhances a community of researchers and policy actors working together to ensure that appropriate and negotiated policy actions and uptake occur either through programmes, legislations, policies or administrative and other forms of civic actions around issues for which research has provided evidence or for which a synthesis of available evidence has been made. Utafiti Sera is a combination of many things that ensure and enhance policy outcomes. It is a ‘process’, place’, ‘forum’, ‘platform’, or a ‘vehicle’ for transforming research evidence-based knowledge for policy uptake. As a ‘process’ Utafiti Sera involves sequences of activities that enable the building of a community of interests and practice from where existing and new ideas and evidence flow from members of the community resulting in collective action and interventions to improve policy design and implementation. As a ‘place’, Utafiti Sera provides a space for key stakeholders with interest, power, capacity and motivation to act in diverse ways to ensure that research evidence becomes available and is used to make informed policy decisions and practices. As a ‘forum’, it provides a non-partisan platform for knowledge engagement, ‘outreach’ and ‘in-reach’ by different members of the community irrespective of theoretical and ideological differences, in order to build bridges and work together to establish common ground for the pursuit of agreed-upon goals. And as a ‘vehicle’, Utafiti Sera constitutes motor and pathways, transmission belts or/and channels for shared knowledge (common areas on which there are agreements and consensus), and experiences to enhance policy uptake. In short, Utafiti Sera is a phenomenon whose form is determined by the specific conjuncture or/and context in which it is expressed or put in place. It has no permanent form except that of community formation or action of a collective of researchers and policy actors in the pursuit of policy uptake. Utafiti Sera at national, local and regional levels is an innovative mechanism to inform and positively advocate, proffer and contribute to appropriate and relevant policies and programmes that address inclusive development and the wellbeing of citizens through research evidence for policy. To learn more on Utafiti Sera please click here .

PASGR invites Expressions of Interest from interested organizations to host the Utafiti Sera on Strengthening Equitable Access to Quality Higher Education in the Pandemic Environment in Kenya

Activities the Host Organisation will deliver

The host organisation, in close collaboration with PASGR, will undertake a series of activities to inform and influence policies that address challenges facing higher education provision and its consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. Apart from the activities stated below, the host organisation will demonstrate, encourage and facilitate the ownership of the research-policy community along with other Kenyan stakeholders and institutions active in the field. The activities envisaged to be implemented in the 2021 –2022 period includes:

  1. Mapping of key stakeholders in Higher Education in Kenya.
  2. Synthesis of Existing Studies on the three thematic areas selected for the study in Kenya.
  3. Organising stakeholder forums, high-level meetings and a final conference in Kenya involving all the HE stakeholders engaged in the project;
  4. Facilitating and enabling an active community of practice around Kenya’s Higher Education issues;
  5. Identifying and involving potential champions of Higher Education as part of the Utafiti Sera house;
  6. Communication, reporting and media engagement of research evidence and materials developed.

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Research institutions, Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with a strong focus on Higher education, and domiciled in Kenya. This may include institutions and organisations which finance or conduct research, or synthesize research and ensure policy uptake and use of research-based knowledge to promote public policy or/ and advocate for public policy e.g. research institutes, think tanks, civil society advocacy organisations with County-wide and /or national reach, research councils and research consortia. The applicant must be legally registered. Commercial actors and individuals cannot apply.
  2. The applicant will have experience in developing technical research products such as writing working papers, literature synthesis, stakeholder mapping, policy briefs, infographics, video documentaries, and also write reports. PASGR does not encourage ‘copy and paste’ – we are deliberate about simple but potent language to fit donor requirements and the policy audience.
  3. The applicant must demonstrate a capacity for (i) education research (ii) financial management of this work (iii) convening of stakeholders in the field of Education.
  4. The applicant must have experience in convening a broad array of stakeholders including government agencies and ministries, civil society, academia, development partners, the private sector, and other stakeholders relevant to the thematic areas.
  5. The applicant must be conversant with developing content to engage the media, including the newspaper, radio, television as well as social media engagement and blogs.

Submission of EOI

Interested organisations are required to submit their EOI no later than 10/03/2021, 0000hrs Nairobi time by e-mail ONLY to info@pasgr.org Please indicate in the e-mail subject field: – EOI/2021/PDT/US/1 – Name of the Organisation.

The EOI should provide the following information:

  1. Organisational status and profile.
  2. Evidence of experience that demonstrates capacity and competence in hosting and organising similar programmes.
  3. Links to research or reports on the broad thematic area of Higher Education.
  4. In a separate one-pager, describe in some detail, the unique and innovative approach(es) the organisation would use to deliver the ‘Utafiti Sera’ in the stated area, including how to achieve sustainability for this particular house.
  5. 3-page CVs of the head of the organization or association and two members of the management team should be provided. Gender and inclusivity in the team would be an added advantage.
  6. Any other information that can help PASGR judge the organisation’s suitability for hosting the programme.

*Please note that PASGR will invite a potential host organisation for discussions before making the final decision.

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