A joint SADC ministers meeting on Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation (ET-STI) took place from the 14-17 JUNE 2022. It was a hybrid mode workshop hosted in Malawi.
Ministers were invited to (i) approve the draft Regional Research Ethics Guidelines and Toolkit for use by the Member States to improve and strengthen their research ethics policies and institutional arrangements, and (ii) direct the Secretariat working with regional and international partners to support member states with the implementation of the Guidelines and Toolkit through capacity building interventions.
The Research Ethics Guidelines were presented to the SADC Ministers at the virtual meeting held in June 2021, where the Secretariat reported on the project in support of the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation, supported under the Strengthening National Regional Linkages Programme (SNRL) co-funded by the German Government Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through GIZ and the European Commission. One of the key deliverables of the project was the development of draft Regional Research Ethics Guidelines and a toolkit. Ministers were invited to note that the Regional Research Ethics Guidelines have been developed for use by individual researchers, research institutions and governments of member states as a standard approach to applying moral ethical and professional codes of research integrity and conduct, and good ethical practices when undertaking research. The Guidelines and Toolkit were developed by the Northern Regions Community of Practice (COP) for Ethics and Integrity in Southern Africa which comprised of individuals with experience and 14 expertise in research ethics and integrity drawn from the following institutions: namely the University of the Witwatersrand, University of South Africa, University Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, the University of Botswana and the University of Namibia.
Ministers were also invited to note that the aim of the Guidelines and Toolkit is to support researchers at research institutions, national research centres, universities and private sector companies to adhere to principles of ethical research methodologies and policies, particularly those involving indigenous knowledge or traditional knowledge. The Guidelines concern research ethics to support the SADC Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). One of the primary objectives of the SADC Protocol on STI is the promotion of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKSs) and its technologies, especially in rural communities; protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs); and promotion of gender equity and equality for STI. The guidelines equip the individual researchers, research institutions, technology transfer officers and national governments within the SADC region with the knowledge to adhere to principles of ethical research methodologies and policies, particularly those involving indigenous knowledge or traditional knowledge. The guidelines can be used as a standardised approach to applying moral ethical and professional codes of research integrity and conduct, and good ethical practices when undertaking research to the benefit of the national STI policies and SADC regional integration. The Guidelines provide a practical approach to engaging with SADC indigenous communities; the design, instrumentation or data collection methods to be used; data reporting, data management, data storage and sharing; and reporting of the data to the indigenous knowledge communities who have contributed to the research. The draft Guidelines were validated during a virtual regional experts meeting held in September 2021.
Written by Prenitha Sewnarain