The Training Academy Concept
One of the conclusions of ODINAFRICA-III has been that it is impossible to avoid staff turn-over. Staff turn-over will occur for several reasons: (i) staff decide to leave the institution because they have found a job offering better financial rewards or decided to pursue further studies (in fact the capacity development opportunities provided by IOC/IODE may make staff more attractive to other employers); (ii) staff have been promoted within the government to another government department (also this may be an indirect result of our capacity development activities); (iii) staff may have left for health reasons or passed away (this happened in a few cases).
The impact on the NODC (National Oceanographic Data Centre) or Marine Library of staff trained by the project but leaving the institution can be dramatic as we can generally invite only one participant from each country when organizing a regional course. Even during the ODINAFRICA-III project that lasted for 4 years we had to organize courses for countries that had lost staff. In addition new countries were added that also needed start-up training.
In addition the continuing calls for establishing ODINs in other regions make that the same courses need to be organized regularly. We also note that increasingly we receive requests from member states requesting participation, at their own cost, in our courses (even though no specific publicity is made for the courses).
In view of the above it is therefore concluded that there is a need of a regular cycle of standardized courses that are relevant for all regions. This constitutes a standard curriculum of courses that can be organized annually.
The Objective of the OceanTeacher Training Academy will be to establish a facility that will provide an annual teaching programme of courses related to oceanographic data and information management and the development of related products and services that will contribute to the sustainable management of oceans and coastal areas in Africa and other regions. The OceanTeacher Training Academy will underpin all Ocean Data and Information Networks developed by IOC/IODE. The OceanTeacher Academy will furthermore promote the development of regional training nodes thereby providing a multiplier effect on the number of trainees as well as a contribution to the long-term sustained impact of the provided capacity building activities of IOC/IODE and other IOC programmes.
The Training Academy will contribute to:
The above objectives will be addressed to Africa as a matter of priority and to other regions as far as possible.
The courses will target the following trainees:
At the moment IODE already cooperates with several universities and programs, of which students attend training courses in oceanographic data management at the Project Office in Ostend: ECOMAMA, MARELAC, STIMULATE. Further collaboration will be sought with universities, both in Belgium and abroad.
In all cases, prospective trainees must have academic credentials in marine science (for data management), librarianship (for marine information management) or in a closely allied discipline. Trainees from closely allied disciplines must have either classroom experience or work experience with marine datasets.
Development of a university student awareness course
There is a strong need to develop a university student awareness course in OceanTeacher, aimed at providing university students (Master programme, PhD) with the necessary background to manage their research data and to produce basic data products (maps, graphs) for their own research projects (eg Master or PhD dissertation).
University students should then be able to address the following questions:
There is currently one short-course in Oceanographic Data Management available for university students.
A specific university course (or courses) will be further developed in the next phase of OceanTeacher. These courses will then be provided at several universities (preferably both in Belgium and outside Europe). Efforts will be made to promote the use of OceanTeacher by marine science students at universities.
It should be noted that the training provided is technical training, not academic. As such the courses will be short-term (1-4 weeks) and will result in the issuing of Certificates.
The following course types will be offered:
OceanTeacher, since 2009, is also used by:
The OceanTeacher Academy project (2009-2013) is supported financially by the Government of Flanders through FUST. The contribution by the Government of Flanders is US$ 1,540,000; the counterpart contribution by UNESCO/IOC is US$ 153,000.