R for AfRica! Training on Analyzing and Documenting Data with R

The use of freeware and open-source computer applications is getting increasingly popular within the academic community worldwide. In the context of enhanced international networks between education and research institutions, training on use of freeware tools is becoming a crucial step for a better balance in collaboration between European and Eastern African countries, harmonizing the capacities among researchers and students.

A one-week short term training program on “Analyzing and Documenting Data with R” sponsored by the Collaborative Centre Future Rural Africa was held at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, between the 5th and the 9th of August of 2019. The aim of the training was to provide a comprehensive introduction to the statistical software “R”, covering R’s data management, graphics, data analysis, and modeling capabilities. Also, documentation and reporting capabilities implemented through R Markdown were introduced to the trainees. This activity was organized by Dr. Miguel Alvarez and Bisrat H. Gebrekidan of the University of Bonn together with Dr. Samuel Kiboi and Dr. George Ong’amo of the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

The training kicked-off with a welcome talk addressed by the Director of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, Prof. Paul N. Ndegwa, who expressed the importance of open-source tools in the student’s academic endeavor. He also appreciated the initiative to support the formation of students in the context of this partnership.

\"\" Participants and trainers in front of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, Kenya (Photo: M. Alvarez).

Around 27 participants were representing different faculties and included MSc. and PhD students as well as academic staff from the University of Nairobi, National Museums of Kenya and the University of Bonn. Each day was devoted to a skill-oriented session containing both lecture series and hands-on practical sessions. At the end of training period, trainees were given certificates.

This training was a sequel of a previous activity carried out in November 2018 and is supposed to be continued by further collaboration activities between the two partner Universities. The current Covid-19 pandemic presents one of the biggest challenges for the continuity of the program, but the possibilities of virtual networking are under consideration to enable the continuity of the program.

By: Bisrat H. Gebrekhidan, Miguel Alvarez, and Samuel Kiboi

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