Kenyan higher education is facing a number of challenges, particularly as an increasing number of students qualify for admission to universities. This has led to many of the public universities opening branch campuses and increasing the enrolments on some campuses. Unfortunately, the number of faculty members has not kept pace with the increasing student enrolments and thus large class sizes (e.g., 400 – 1,000 students), referred to by many as the massification of higher education, are a reality for many students and faculty members.
The 2nd International Conference on Education, co-sponsored by the Schools of Education at Kenyatta University (Nairobi, Kenya) and Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York, USA) and hosted at Kenyatta University in July 2011, addressed this and other issues through its theme of “Quality Education for Societal Transformation.”
Transformation was an strong emphasis of conference presentations; it also is the focus of a collaborative project between Kenyatta University (KU) and Syracuse University (SU) that is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The KU-SU partnership project is titled “Capacity Building through Quality Teacher Preparation” and has as its objectives for the first two years of our partnership to (1) strengthen the capacity of the KU teacher education faculty resulting in improved teacher preparation for the education sector in Kenya, (2) strengthen the research capacity of the KU teacher education program resulting in improved knowledge that produces more effective education, (3) enhance the KU teacher education program resulting in improved instructional capacity, and (4) provide quality service to education stakeholders resulting in improved instruction in secondary schools in Kenya.
Along with these objectives, we have a long-term goal of developing and establishing a model for teacher preparation and education that we will share with other universities in Kenya and other East African countries. Parallel to all of these objectives is our goal of building awareness of issues and successful strategies related to capacity building at the departmental, institutional and national level among the SU faculty members and other partners through our collaborative activities.
Some of the issues we are currently working on in building the capacity of the teacher education faculty is learning how to (a) teach large classes and prepare teachers who will teach large classes, (b) support all learners and prepare teachers who can support all learners, and (c) use technology as a tool for teaching and learning and prepare teachers who can do this as well.
Photos: © Joanna Masingila: delegates convene for the 2nd International Conference on Education in Kenya including educators with links to Syracuse University and the then Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Hellen Sambili.