The Research and Knowledge Management Office (RaKMO) of St. Mary’s University was established as a Research and Institutional Evaluation Unit with a view to institute the research culture in the University. It was renamed as the Center for Educational Improvement, Research and Quality Assurance (CEIRQA) in 2003. In 2010, the name was again changed to Research and Knowledge Management Office (RaKMO) to accommodate the expanding role of the Office as a catalyst between teaching-learning and knowledge generation as well as outreach services of the University.
RaKMO coordinates, guides and facilitates the smooth and effective implementation of St. Mary’s University’s Research Policy and Strategy. In order to accomplish its duties and responsibilities, RaKMO has guidelines that describe the course of action selected to facilitate the research activities at SMU.
Since its establishment more than two decades ago, RaKMO has been providing all-rounded support to the staff of SMU to carry out research activities that have institutional and national significance. RaKMO encourages faculty members’ engagement in research activities by providing them with tailor-made training on scientific research techniques, and providing them with funding. It also looks for funding schemes for research undertakings, and works on institutional knowledge management issues to enhance the efficiency of various offices of the University.
RaKMO encourages collaborative research at institutional, national and international levels. Among others, RaKMO organizes a number of events such as seminars, conferences and workshops on a wide-range of issues relevant to higher education in Ethiopia, Africa and the world at large. Some of the themes of these events revolve around quality, accessibility, affordability, equity, relevance, and roles of higher education, both private and public, in sustainable development at national and international levels.
Major Flagship National and International Knowledge-sharing Platforms
RaKMO has put in place a variety of platforms to promote dialogue, professional deliberations, and knowledge and experience sharing. These platforms are inclusive, and encourage all the University communities and professionals in the business and industry to take part in diverse institutional, national and international issues of common interest. The International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa, the Multi-Disciplinary Seminar, the Annual National Student Research Forum, the Open and Distance Learning Seminar, and the Annual Research Review Meeting have created invaluable opportunities for academicians, students and professionals within Ethiopia and abroad to share their research findings and experiences with their counterparts.
International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa
This Conference has been running for the last 21 years in a row. It began in 2003 as a national forum on Private Higher Education in Ethiopia and continued in this manner until 2011. Given the increasing interest shown by participants from Africa and the rest of the world, the Conference was renamed, in 2012, as the International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa and has become one of the rare opportunities for the discussion of broader regional and international issues impacting higher education in Africa and globally.
The Conference aims at facilitating the exchange of ideas among academics, researchers, policy makers, implementation agencies, the private sector, and other stakeholders who could contribute to the improvement of higher education at national and continental levels. The conference also aims at creating opportunities for knowledge generation, dissemination and sharing of experiences from scholars of different countries. Such practice, in turn, will pave the way for enhanced collaboration in the continent towards ensuring quality, accessibility and relevance of higher education in Africa. Papers presented at the conference are published in Proceedings and are distributed to stakeholders.
This conference draws scholars and researchers from local and international institutions.
This Seminar is one of the research events RaKMO has been organizing since 2009 with the aim of giving the staff and external researchers the opportunity to share findings and experience from their research undertakings. Like other research events, the Seminar aims at promoting innovation, and encourages the culture of knowledge transfer among academicians, researchers, development agents and practitioners in different disciplines. The Seminar is also intended to help institutions to develop problem-solving skills through research activities, thereby contributing to the overall national development. The Seminar has been held for fourteen years uninterrupted. Papers presented at the Seminar are published in the Proceedings.
National Student Research Forum
RaKMO has been organizing the Annual Student Research Forum for undergraduate students since 2007. The overall purpose is not only to create opportunity for the students to present their senior essays and share their experiences but also to encourage those who will pursue their studies further at postgraduate levels. This Forum also plays an important role in terms of helping students improve their presentation, academic dialogue, critical thinking and leadership skills. Accordingly, graduating students from different public and private universities in Ethiopia have been sharing the results of their Senior Essays to fellow students and learn from each other’s experiences. Papers presented at the Forum are published in the Proceedings.
Open and Distance Learning Seminar
RaKMO, in partnership with the College of Open and Distance Learning (CODL) of St Mary’s University, has been organizing the Annual Open and Distance Learning Seminar since 2012 with an exclusive focus of exploring the opportunities and challenges of Open and Distance Learning in Ethiopia and elsewhere. The Seminar attracts different participants from various government agencies, public/private higher learning institutions, and research institutions. Papers presented at the Seminar are published in the Proceedings.
Annual Research Review Meeting
The Annual Research Review Meeting is another platform organized by RaKMO exclusively for academic staff of the University. The Research Review Meeting evaluates research proposals submitted by St. Mary’s University academic staff, provides funds for proposals that meet the requirements, and shares the experience and research findings of previously sponsored research projects with the University community.
Research Thematic Areas
St. Mary’s University (SMU) has eight major research thematic areas which serve its research endeavors to advance and guide knowledge creation and dissemination efforts of the University. The research thematic areas focus on Institutional Development and Improvement, Business Development and Management, Higher Education Provision (access) and Quality of Education, Sustainable Development in Ethiopia [and beyond], ICT for Sustainable Development, Open and Distance Education, and Life-long Learning, Gender, Student Wellness, and Support System and Social Work Research. The prioritized research thematic areas direct SMU’s in-house research undertakings and its annual research conferences/seminars discussion areas.
The Research and Knowledge Management Office (RaKMO) produces proceedings of the four annual research events i.e., International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa, Multi-Disciplinary Seminar, National Student Research Forum and Open and Distance Learning Seminar to serve as references to the University community as well as to disseminate to partner and stakeholder institutions, thereby building institutional memory of the University.
St. Mary’s University also produces three accredited journals, namely Journal of Business and Administrative Studies (JBAS), Journal of Agriculture and Development (JAD) and Mizan Law Review. JBAS and Mizan Law Review have been accredited by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education.
SMU, in general, and RaKMO, in particular, work with relevant partners and stakeholders which play considerable roles in promoting quality higher education in Africa. Some of these include:
- The Federal Ministry Education, Ethiopia;
- The Association of African Universities (AAU);
- The African Union Commission;
- International Network for Higher Education in Africa (INHEA);
- University of KwaZulu Natal;
- The Program for Research on Private Higher Education (PROPHE); and
- The International Institute of Capacity Building for Africa (IICBA) of UNESCO.
The Research Grant program at SMU aims to support research and develop excellence in research activities. To this end, SMU awards research grants to both undergraduate and graduate students whose research focus is on Private Higher Education in Ethiopia. Funding is also granted to SMU academic staff who would like to conduct research.