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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Center for African Education

Research & Fieldwork > TC and Faculty

TC and Faculty

University of Nairobi and the International Rescue Committee
Creating a Hub of Expertise on Education in Emergencies
 

Spearheaded by Professor Mary Mendenhall with the help of several student interns from Teachers College...

AROUND FORTY MILLION CHILDREN currently out of school worldwide live in countries affected by conflict and instability. To ensure such children do not continue to miss out on vital schooling, the University of Nairobi (UoN) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have joined forces to develop a new, regional Education in Emergencies initiative in Nairobi, Kenya.

THE UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP will build a hub of expertise in East Africa by offering a Master of Education Degree, a Certificate Program and shorter study courses in Education in Emergencies (EiE) at the UoN’s School of Education. Courses will combine coursework, field placements and in-depth research to help students and existing practitioners develop the essential skills and competencies to deliver quality education in complex emergencies.

THE THREE-YEAR PARTNERSHIP is the first of its kind and commenced in 2009. With support from the IRC, the UoN education faculty and students will also carry out urgently needed research, establishing the university as a regional center of excellence for EiE.

ACADEMIC STUDY AND TRAINING OPTIONS
Master of Education (M.Ed):  The M.Ed. is a new and unique two-year program for those with limited prior knowledge of EiE, combining coursework, field work and research. The course can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis.  During the first year of study beginning in October 2010, students will follow the core curriculum required for all M.Ed. students in the Department of Educational Administration and Planning. One EiE course bridging theory and practice will be included in this core curriculum, exposing all M.Ed. students at the UoN to the principles of EiE.  In the second year, students will take several elective courses that focus on specific challenges
and opportunities facing education in emergencies, as well as emerging trends and new priorities.

Certificate:  The certificate program will be a three- month intensive course for existing EiE practitioners who wish to enhance their current knowledge in this field. It will take place at the UoN during university
holidays in December, April and August. The start date for this program is yet to be confirmed.

Short Courses:  Short, more targeted courses averaging 10-14 days in duration will be offered on various topics pertinent to EiE. The first short course will be offered during the 2010-2011 academic year. Similarly, the short courses will target those practitioners with limited time but who also wish to expand their competencies in specific areas.

PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS  AND PRACTITIONERS
Priority will be given to prospective students from East Africa who plan to continue working in the region after completion of the program. However, students outside the region are strongly encouraged to apply and the UoN will do its best to accommodate interested individuals. All applicants for the M.Ed. must have completed a Bachelor of Education or relevant post-graduate diploma for admission. Completion of the EiE certificate program (or other relevant post-graduate diploma) plus a university degree will be considered equivalent to the B.Ed. for admission to the M.Ed. program. Upon completion of the M.Ed. and depending on previous work experience, students may: resume or begin work in schools as teachers or administrators; join the Ministry of Education and build capacity to
deliver inclusive and quality education in emergency situations; or work with aid agencies or other international organizations on their education teams. The certificate program and short courses will allow
practitioners and academics from across the region to enhance their existing competencies in EiE, therefore
boosting their future employment prospects in this field.

TIMELINE
During 2009-2010, the IRC and UoN are working together on: faculty development, curriculum development, identification of fieldwork and internship opportunities for students, creation of an EiE resource center, and building essential partnerships with other organizations for short, medium and long-term activities. The first M.Ed. cohort will begin in October 2010. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Mary Mendenhall, Ed.D.
Academic Consultant, IRC
mary.mendenhall@theirc.org
www.theIRC.org

Loise Gichuhi, Ph.D.
UoN Education in Emergencies 
 Programme Coordinator
lopawer@yahoo.com
www.uonbi.ac.ke


Schools as Centers for Care and Support: A Child-Friendly Initiative in Africa

Project Update

The fourth Teaching in Action (TIA) workshop took place at Mwenge University College of Education (MWUCE) from Sunday, 4 July – Saturday, 10 July, 2010.  Professor Lesley Bartlett, accompanied by doctoral students Maria Jose Bermeo and Tamara Webb, joined Professor Frances Vavrus and two doctoral students from University of Minnesota in Moshi to collaborate with MWUCE faculty on the project. The 62 teachers in attendance came primarily from the Kilimanjaro and Arusha Regions in northern Tanzania.  The primary objective of the TIA 2010 workshop was to enhance the ability of Tanzanian secondary school teachers at the O- and A-levels to use critical-thinking and learner-centered pedagogies to increase students’ analytical and problem-solving capabilities.  Through an intensive week of demonstrations, modeling, and peer feedback in the use of these teaching methods, the TIA participants made significant progress in their understanding and utilization of new strategies to improve student learning and critical thinking. 

A second objective of the TIA program is the professional development of Tanzanian teacher educators at Mwenge University.  These are faculty who seek to use more critical-thinking and learner-centered pedagogies in their college-level classes, to learn how to conduct workshops for secondary school teachers, and to understand how to conduct qualitative, classroom-based research.  Through a three-week training program for the MWUCE-TIA faculty to prepare for the workshop and to learn about qualitative research, the faculty members were able to connect the goals of the professional development program and to take leadership in the TIA program.  During the first of these two weeks, Professor Lesley Bartlett led daily sessions on the principles and practices of qualitative research in education.  In addition, Professor Frances Vavrus facilitated daily sessions to with the nine MWUCE-TIA faculty and the seven members of the U.S. team to prepare for the workshop. In the final week, the group finalized the design for a school-based qualitative research project, practiced the observation and interview techniques, and then field-tested the instruments. The doctoral students and MWUCE faculty then spent a month in six area secondary schools, collecting data on how teachers who had participated in the workshop took up and used learner-centered pedagogy. The team is now working on data analysis and expects to hold a conference on the findings at Mwenge next summer.

Previous Work

From February 11-15, 2008 Professor Lesley Bartlett and doctoral student Stephanie Bengtsson traveled to Kigali, Rwanda to facilitate a workshop with lead researchers from five African universities. Their task: to design a study to investigate the obstacles to centralizing, within schools, support for vulnerable children in five essential categories-'"physical health, psychosocial health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and safety and security.

The study, which is funded by Unicef, is being conducted thanks to an unusual partnership involving experienced lead researchers and junior researchers from Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Tanzania. Participants in the New York-based team include Professors Monisha Bajaj, Lesley Bartlett, George Bond, Lynn Kagan, and Frances Vavrus, as well as doctoral students from the International Education Program Stephanie Bengtsson, Radhika Iyengar, Chris Pagen, and Anne Smiley. The immediate aim of the study is to inform the implementation of Unicef's Child-Friendly Schools program; in the long term, the study is expected to inform the development of national policy in several of the participating countries as well as to develop research capacity among all teams.

"The workshop was truly phenomenal," says Lesley Bartlett, an assistant professor in the Programs in International and Comparative Education at Teachers College. "It gathered some of the top researchers and practitioners in universities, development organizations, and ministries of education from the participating countries. Together we had the opportunity to design a study that stands a real chance of influencing educational policy and practice in a direct way. We are looking forward to completing data collection and data analysis with our partners. Furthermore, we are truly excited by the prospect of long-term relationships with each team. For example, through the Center for African Education, we are already developing a plan for faculty and student exchanges with the Kigali Institute of Education."

Once the baseline study is complete in July 2008, the results will be presented to a joint meeting of ministers of education in the participating countries. The teams are expected to continue to work together to conduct a monitoring and evaluation study of Child Friendly Schools in the next few years.

Click here for a more detailed research summary.

 

Honors for Tanzanian Teacher Education Project Led by TC Faculty

The Teaching in Action professional development seminar, which helps Tanzanian teachers use more participatory and student-centered teaching methods, has won the Ashoka Changemakers Champions of Quality Education in Africa award.

The Teaching in Action professional development seminar begun at Teachers College in 2007, which helps Tanzanian teachers use more participatory and student-centered methods, has won the Ashoka Changemakers Champions of Quality Education in Africa award.

Teaching in Action, initiated in 2007 by former TC Associate Professor Fran Vavrus and developed since then with TC Associate Professor Lesley Bartlett, was one of three projects that won the award, which carries a $5,000 prize. The competition is designed to focus attention on “on innovative, effective approaches to improving student learning outcomes in Africa.”

Funded by AfricAid, Teaching in Action is an annual professional development seminar that encourages Tanzanian teachers to use of student-centered, participatory teaching techniques in order to foster critical thinking skills in secondary schools. Teaching in Action works with teachers in a wide range of subjects. The goal is for those educators to serve as model teachers with expertise in participatory, student-centered teaching methods.

Since 2008, Lesley Bartlett and several TC students have teamed with Vavrus, who is now a professor at the University of Minnesota, and faculty members from the Mwenge University College of Education in Tanzania on Teaching in Action initiatives in the Kilimanjaro region. To date, the program has reached hundreds of Tanzanian teachers across the country.

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public is a nonprofit organization focused on social entrepreneurship. Founded in 1981, the organization currently works in more than 60 countries and serves more than 2,000 social entrepreneurs. Ashoka’s Changemakers initiative sponsors competitions intended to develop innovative solutions to social problems.