Last modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Kenyan education professors visiting IU School of Education at IUPUI
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 23, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Two professors from the Moi University School of Education are in Indiana to learn how to improve teacher training in Kenya.
The IU School of Education at IUPUI is working on a continuing relationship with the school of education at Moi University, located in Eldoret, Kenya, a city in the western portion of the country, about 192 miles northwest of Nairobi. The IU School of Education is enhancing a longstanding IU partnership with the African nation. The IU School of Medicine joined forces for health care in 1989, primarily focusing on fighting the AIDS pandemic.
During their stay in Indiana, the professors will visit Indianapolis schools, attend several IU School of Education classes and go to a professional education conference in Pittsburgh. Much of the visit is focused on creating a professional development center for educators at Moi.
"We shall have a unit for teaching and learning, a unit for research and development, a unit for empowering women in academia," said Peter Basara, Moi University education professor.
Those three areas, along with preparing and mentoring new faculty, are focal points of the campus partnership. "Our colleagues will help us in visualizing and assisting us in where we ought to go," Basara said.
The other visiting education professor, Ruth Otunga, said the professional center will be a part of an effort to empower Kenyan school teachers by making sure they are using best practices.
"As a university, we should be concerned with what they teach and how they teach and the quality of instruction that they provide," Otunga said.
Otunga said Moi University is trying to build upon the model of the Curriculum Resource Center at the School of Education at IUPUI, a center established to provide material and instructional help to teachers. During much of the visit, the professors will examine ways to raise funds for their own center. Moi University's vice chancellor also visited this week to explore development ideas. Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez agreed that resources are needed to help the partnership achieve its full potential.
"Our IUPUI education faculty and Moi education leaders have established a solid foundation for a successful partnership," said Gonzalez. "We now need to work together to raise the funds necessary for long-term sustainability."
Like most professors at education schools worldwide, the Moi University professors are struggling to determine the best ways to use the latest technology in preparing teachers. That's a particular challenge in a country where telephone lines are unreliable, and some Internet monitoring agencies estimate just over 3 percent of the country's population uses the Internet.
"They're skipping over desktops (computers) and phones with cords and moving into the technology age," said Khaula Murtadha, executive associate dean of the IU School of Education at IUPUI.
One of three IU School of Education professors who visited Moi University in August said infrastructure is one of the most pressing needs. "The classroom facilities really are very poor compared to what we have here," said Nancy Chism, professor of higher education and student affairs. Chism, Beth Berghoff, associate professor for language education, and Megan Palmer, adjunct assistant professor of higher education and student affairs, worked with Moi faculty on many of the technology issues during their stay in Kenya.
Chism and Beth Berghoff, associate professor for language education, worked with Moi faculty on many of the technology issues during their stay in Kenya. Basara said the worry about technology is not so much incorporating it, but simply getting it. He said at his university, a teacher might lecture to 600 students, but have a microphone as the only technology at his or her disposal.
Basara and Otunga are the first Moi faculty to visit the IUPUI campus. Murtadha said the exchange visits will continue to benefit faculty and students at both universities. One overall goal is to complement the continuing work of the IU-Kenya partnership established by the IU School of Medicine. The medical school has created a network of 19 sites to treat more than 55,000 HIV/AIDS patients throughout the country. Murtadha said the School of Education partnership is intended to strengthen education across the board as well as complement efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.
"We certainly have materials that have to do with the body and those kinds of things that are appropriate developmentally for young people," she said.
Murtadha said the work of School of Education faculty will reach beyond the healthcare curriculum to include math and science.
Media Outlets: the following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Website at https://site.educ.indiana.edu/news/tabid/5663/Default.aspx. Look for the story headline under "Podcasts."
Basara describes the need for new technology at Moi University:
"In my university, you can teach about 600 students, using only, if you wish, a microphone -- that is all you are using. That does not enable you to engage the learners quite well. We must find ways of ensuring that the methods we use are interactive, and the students can participate in the process of learning. I guess that with IT, you do not have to even bring all of the students into the classroom, if you are able to handle that professionally, and in terms of modern technology. That's why we are interested in what is happening in Indiana."
Basara says he hopes the partnership with the IU School of Education at IUPUI will help develop Moi's own teacher resource center:
"And it is about capacity development in faculty. And that is the best way to go in assuring that education is prepared, that you're taking the lead in enhancing teaching and learning. So with that, we should be able to go out there and say, look, IUPUI has given us staff in the area of expertise, and together with our own staff, we can do this together and be able to put together a resource center, development center."
Otunga says she and other Moi faculty are trying to ensure teacher success:
"You bring in people and you empower them to be able to teach because we seem to have a weakness in the sense that once somebody is recruited nobody bothers about how they teach and so on. And yet as a university we should be concerned with what they teach and how they teach and the quality of instruction that they provide so we can turn out quality products for our students, and that is what really attracts us. So we do not have to ignore what they are doing, but we can follow up in exactly what is required to be done while they are in the university system."
Chism says Moi needs to improve technology to reach the latest age of education:
"One of the most pressing needs that Moi University has is the infrastructure. The classroom facilities really are very poor compared to what we have here and they have large numbers of students in these facilities. They also have very little access to Internet or reliable technology, updated software and machines; some of our colleagues at IUPUI are actually working on those issues. So the infrastructure issues and the professional development center really are going to go hand in hand, and that's the overview of where the priorities are."
Murtadha describes how the partnership with the Kenyan university builds on the already established partnership with the IU School of Medicine designed to battle the pandemic AIDS problem in Kenya:
"In some respects, it's health. But it's also math. It's also science. It's also those areas that underpin understanding health. If we got some sense of the ways that we use the materials, it's not only in direct instruction about health. We certainly have materials that have to do with the body and those kinds of things that are appropriate developmentally for young people. But I think when you develop inquiry much more broadly, then it's going to touch those other disciplinary areas. And for a young person to develop that inquiry perspective, and for the teacher to know how to cultivate it, it means going beyond just the healthcare curriculum."