IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme: Inspiring the next generation of scientists

08 Mar 2019

On International Women’s Day 2019, the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network (IVVN) in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), University of Ibadan, University of Zambia, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), and the African Vaccinology Network (AfVANET), are delighted to launch the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme, an exciting new initiative which aims to inspire the next generation of scientists in Africa.

Data collected by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (https://asti.cgiar.org/gender) highlight the low representation of women in agricultural research in Africa – where they represent on average only 24% of researchers. As part of efforts to address this challenge, the University of Edinburgh recently provided the IVVN with £46,000 of Global Challenges Research Funding (GCRF) to coordinate the development and implementation of the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.

The basis of the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme is to provide women scientists working in veterinary vaccinology in African institutes with the training and resources (in the form of a mobile laboratory) to run workshops in schools in their home countries. The workshop was designed by the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre (EBSOC) at the University of Edinburgh and will comprise an interactive, laboratory-based activity targeting secondary school students. The workshop will give students a hands-on experience of scientific techniques and teach them the importance of vaccinating animals against many devastating diseases that affect livestock and the livelihoods of farmers in Africa and across the globe. The workshops, which will be led by African women scientists from ILRI, the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), and the University of Zambia, will give students an opportunity to interact with relevant women role models and hopefully encourage them to consider pursuing a career in science. The outreach programme will provide support for the scientists to collaborate in delivery of these outreach activities, contributing to the formation of a peer-to-peer support network for women veterinary scientists in Africa and allowing the students to interact with inspirational scientists from across Africa.

AWARD will contribute to IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme’s goal of inspiring the next generation of women scientists in Africa by exposing the students to successful examples of outstanding women vaccine scientists. Specifically, AWARD will mobilize its country chapter in Kenya, KeAWARD, to conduct a role modelling event which will focus on breaking down stereotypes about women and science, with an emphasis on veterinary science.

Project partners met for an initial planning meeting in London in January 2019 during the IVVN annual conference and they will meet again later this month at ILRI headquarters where training on the delivery of the workshop content will be provided. Following the training, the project team will pilot the workshop in a secondary school in Nairobi before implementing the programme across schools in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.

Follow the progress of the project at @IntVetVaccNet #InspiringFutureScientists. 

For enquiries regarding the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme, please contact IVVN Network Manager, Dr. Carly Hamilton at IVVN [at] roslin [dot] ed [dot] ac [dot] uk.

Project Partners

Irene Kiio, International Livestock Research Institute

Irene Kiio is currently a graduate fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya. Irene holds a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nairobi and her research interests are on ticks and tick-borne diseases, and vaccines.

“I hope that participating in the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme will inspire more African children and more so girls to pursue science courses with the aim of joining vaccinology. The welfare of the African population is largely affected by a lack of vaccines for some of the diseases that are a threat to both humans and their livestock. Thus, having more passionate and homegrown vaccine researchers will contribute immensely in bridging this gap.”

Dr. Ntombi Mudenda, University of Zambia

Dr. Ntombi Mudenda is a lecturer and clinician at the University of Zambia working on zoonotic infections, particularly gastrointestinal parasites and bacteria. Currently, Ntombi is serving as the first female Chairperson of the Veterinary Association of Zambia, a position that has ushered her into the national legislation and policy-making world. She is also the President of Graduate Women Zambia, an association advocating for the education of women and girls and promoting women in STEM related programmes.

“Science is a very exciting field and the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme will help bring it to life for many young ladies.”

Dr. Funmilayo Ibitayo Deborah Afolayan, University of Ibadan

Dr. Funmilayo Ibitayo Deborah Afolayan is a lecturer in the Cell Biology and Genetics Unit, Department of Zoology where she teaches Molecular Biology and Parasitology. She is actively engaged in research, with aims to reduce infectious disease burden in Africa through the discovery of botanically based drugs, and adjuvants that can be used to enhance efficacy of potential vaccines. Dr. Funmilayo Ibitayo Deborah Afolayan is also a founding member of the African Vaccinology Network (AfVANET).

"I am particularly excited about the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme and glad to be involved. Young students will be inspired by women who are great scientists.”

Dr. Nicola Stock, Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre

Dr. Nicola Stock is the Public Engagement Officer at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. Nicola has worked in science communication and engagement for over ten years, and her job is to lead on public engagement with research activities at The Roslin Institute and Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre.

“We set up the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre to enable members of the public and school pupils to learn about science by doing it themselves, so the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme is a great opportunity to share this approach with IVVN researchers, enabling them to bring hands-on science to pupils in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.”

Jayne Quoiani, Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre

Jayne Quoiani is Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre’s Education Officer. Jayne has a background in both scientific research and science education and her job is to develop and deliver workshops, and activities that are curriculum linked and explain current scientific research for schools, young people, families and the public.

“I am passionate about science education, and the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme particularly excites me because it is about giving scientific researchers the skills and tools to be able to communicate their own science, to their own future generation of scientists."

Dr. Michelè Mbo’o-Tchouawou, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development

Dr. Michèle Mbo’o-Tchouawou is a development economist working in the multidisciplinary framework of capabilities and human development. She is currently the AWARD Deputy Director, Programs where she leads the development, management and quality of AWARD programmatic work. AWARD has, for a decade now, supported women agricultural scientists to increase their visibility and to serve as effective leaders within their research teams, institutions and their communities. In addition, AWARD promotes knowledge and skills sharing among African women scientists while also catalyzing networks to enhance research collaboration and promote joint advocacy for gender responsiveness in African agricultural research and development institutions.

“Leveraging the unique potential of our young ones through the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme will go a long way in ensuring increased opportunities to build technical expertise with passion and confidence, to consolidate leadership values and to translate them into reality through concrete action and positive outcomes on the ground.”


 Funding for the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme was provided through the University of Edinburgh’s GCRF-Scottish Funding Council allocation for 2018-2019.