New curricula for land governance challenges

Guidelines for the development of curricula on land governance are being drafted to assist institutions of higher learning to develop education and training programmes that will equip graduates with the skills needed to address Africa’s land governance challenges.

This was revealed during a workshop held in Nairobi last month by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa or UNECA.

The curricula guidelines are being developed under the Land Policy Initiative or LPI of the African Union Commission, UNECA and the African Development Bank in collaboration with African higher education institutions, according to Joan Kagwanja, head of UNECA’s Land Policy Initiative, Regional Integration and Trade Division.

A capacity assessment study conducted by LPI in collaboration with UN-Habitat from 2012-13 highlighted poor training and preparation of land professionals in Africa.

In an interview with University World News Kagwanja said a recent LPI assessment of the needs of the ‘land governance’ sector and gaps in curricula highlighted the fact that the current crop of graduates from land governance-related departments is not equipped to address key land governance challenges.

“The aim of the guidelines is therefore to facilitate development and a review of curricula to ensure these graduates are better skilled,” she said.

Kagwanja said the emphasis would be on trained land professionals, in order to better understand traditional land governance systems through which over 80% of Africa’s land is managed as well as the political dimensions of land governance that influence Africa’s ability to find solutions to underlying and emerging land governance issues.

These challenges include ethnicity and conflicts; duality of land governance and insecurity of land tenure especially in communal lands; low access to land and land rights insecurity among women; poor land distribution including historical injustices; challenges surrounding land-based investments; land-use planning, urban and peri-urban developmental issues; and land environment and climate change.

According to Kagwanja, the guidelines will be available for use by all higher education institutions in Africa and changes will occur through existing modalities for curricula review. Support will also be provided to enhance institutional capacity and expertise.

In addition to curricula reviews, scholarships will be availed to masters and doctoral students for training and research in land governance, as well as for retooling of land professionals under the new curricula.

The LPI anticipates that the main beneficiaries of the support offered will be members of the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa, which includes African higher education institutions with proven leadership in training and research in one or more areas of land governance.

After development, the guidelines will be presented to African Union policy organs for endorsement, as well as ministries responsible for higher education and leadership of Africa’s universities and institutions of higher learning.