Sixty-eight representatives from 23 colleges and universities, 10 national associations of women religious and ASEC staff, participated in the first Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) partners conference in Kampala, Uganda.
Prior to the conference, ASEC staff and partners from the U.S. visited HESA alumnae and partners in Uganda. These historic events created spaces for deepening knowledge about ASEC and HESA, strengthening partnerships, addressing research needs and discussing the future of HESA.
Partners praised the conference as a success in achieving its goals and in networking international Catholic universities and institutions.
“The workshop has marked a new beginning in our working relationship,” echoed a partner representative from Malawi.
Administrators, faculty, and staff from partners in ten countries - Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and the United States - participated in the conference. Representatives at the conference included vice chancellors, deputy vice chancellors of academic affairs, deans and HESA liaison administrators from ASEC’s college and university partners, as well as secretary general of national associations of religious in Africa. ASEC staff from headquarters and Africa country offices were also present.
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A Collaborative Effort
The conference was planned in collaboration among ASEC headquarters and country offices, and with support from Christian Organizations Research and Advisory Trust of Africa (CORAT Africa). Together the planning team established clear goals for the conference, specifically to:
- Provide participants with greater knowledge about ASEC as an organization, its programs and specifically HESA.
Facilitate sharing among HESA partners for the enrichment of program delivery and evaluation, and ultimately, for the benefit of HESA participants and those they serve.
- Discuss and collect feedback on the HESA program structure, curriculum, alumnae engagement, and program evaluation in preparation for Phase III of HESA.
- Develop research questions on the impact of higher education for Catholic sisters in Africa.
Planning for the Future of HESA
The conference provided an opportunity for partners to come together, in person, to learn about HESA, to discuss the program’s successes and challenges, network and to plan for improved program implementation in the future. Partners joined in learning and feedback sessions on ASEC’s historical background, HESA’s program structure, HESA evaluation outcomes, institutional linkages in higher education, quality assurance in higher education, and research interests. Alumnae of HESA also joined the workshop for an interactive session on their experience during and after the program.
“The experience deepened my understanding and appreciation for ASEC and HESA. I am convinced that the (Partner Institution) has a renewed vigor thanks to the conference,” stated a representative from Cameroon.
Visiting HESA Alumnae and University Partners
In the days preceding the conference, ASEC staff accompanied representatives from ASEC’s founding members on site visits with HESA Alumnae and university partners in Uganda. Jim Sullivan, Dean of Continuing and Professional Studies at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, US, Peter McLallen, Dean of the Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies at Rosemont College in Rosemont, PA, US, and April Folwkes, Director of Admissions at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA, US, visited HESA alumnae working health, education and social service professions.
The team also visited several of ASEC’s partners in Uganda, including the Association of Religious in Uganda (ARU), the University of Kisubi and Uganda Martyrs University.