The staff of Kyambogo University, who recently completed a 3-months training in Translating Science into Policy and Practice, have today June 28th 2022, been awarded certificates. The lecturers undertook the 3- months online training which started in March-May. The intensive training saw the students study the policy landscape, audience aggregation, how to communicate science, and writing a policy brief and press release. While awarding the certificates, Rt. Hon. Daniel Kidega, who was the guest of honour, congratulated the trainees and called on universities to form think tanks if they are to influence policy. Hon. Kidega gave a presentation on ‘Collaboration between research, policy and planning: “The Role of Politicians (Decision Makers) and Planners”.

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Hon. Kidega shared that politicians offer leadership and provide oversight to policy formulation, offer strategic and ideological guidance to the process and ensure participation of all stakeholders based on the structure of the society. While researchers are supposed to influence policy, based on their findings, Hon. Kidega sighted some limitations to this role. The limitations include; Institutional framework challenges (infrastructure, administrative structures & dependence), underfunding of crucial processes, Low appreciation, interpretation, adaptation and utilization of research output, corruption, lack of proper coordination among stakeholders, over-politicization of processes, low engagement of researchers and policies which are not in touch with reality on ground. He, however, offered some interventions which he said must be deliberate. “There should be a deliberate effort to transform research for effective utilization,” This research he said can be transformed into policy if there is political goodwill, the establishment of research chairs at universities, dedicated research funding and strengthening of a multi-sectoral approach to research, policy development and implementation. Others are strengthening collaboration with think tanks or research centers to drive policy formulation and development, continuous policy reviews, strengthening institutional cooperation, streamlining policies to address true situations in the communities and continuous monitoring and evaluation.

Researchers were advised to align the research to the contemporary problems facing society if we are to influence policy. The researchers also discussed how to bridge the gap between research and policy. The discussion was led by Mr Alex Muhweezi, who emphasized the importance of distinguishing between academic research, innovation research and advocacy research. He said this will help researchers identify which research can influence policy and which one will not, to avoid getting frustrated. Mr Muhweezi informed the researchers that for information to be used by the policymakers, it has got to be well packaged. In other words, it’s important to translate science into policy and make it easy for none scientists to understand it. Research shows that only 0.2% of the world’s decision-makers are scientists. This, therefore, calls for a good translation of science into policy. The timing of the policy recommendations has also got to be put into consideration. “Research findings have to be delivered at an appropriate time in the policy formulation or reform implementation stage,” Mr Muhweezi advised. The researchers were advised to establish and nurture partnerships with policymakers if we are to get them to listen to the proposed reforms. One of the staff who undertook the course, Dr. Simon Peter Musinguzi, shared how the course had benefited him. He shared his earlier frustrations of doing research and not being sure of how to influence policy. But following the completion of the course, he was able to figure out how to disseminate his findings to the relevant people. He shared that he had been offered a consultancy and was able to use the knowledge acquired from the course. The Director of Research and Graduate Training at Kyambogo University, Prof. Bosco Bua, also congratulated the trainees upon the completion of the course and appreciated them for making the time to study. He called on the researchers to form think tanks in an effort to influence policy because “the community expects a lot from the university”. Prof. Bua said the university would start the process of having the course ‘Translating science into policy and practice’ incorporated into graduate training at Kyambogo University. Prof. Bua called on other staff to apply to study during the second cohort.