Syracuse University

SU News

Masingila makes Kenya connection

November 10, 2009

Jennifer Russo
(315) 443-4751

When Joanna Masingila, professor of mathematics and mathematics education in The College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education, respectively, was a Fulbright Scholar at Kenyatta University near Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998 she did not know that she would eventually serve as the catalyst for a partnership between the School of Education at Syracuse University and Kenyatta University. “In 1998, I was hoping to perhaps recruit some graduate students in mathematics education, and we’ve gotten some, but the bigger connection is a wonderful surprise,” Masingila explains.

In 2000, SU and Kenyatta established a formal institutional linkage through their respective schools of education, demonstrating the commitment by both universities to improving teacher development through educational and cultural interchange. Objectives of the relationship include supporting teacher preparation efforts by collaboratively investigating current capacities at both institutions and developing new capacity that will support teacher proficiency and continued professional growth.

Through this institutional linkage with Kenyatta University, 12 former Kenyatta University students have come to SU for graduate studies. Several are currently in doctoral programs, several have completed master’s degrees, and five have earned doctoral degrees and have gone on to teach at colleges and universities in New York state and around the country.

Masingila has been working with colleagues at Kenyatta University on professional development workshops for teachers in rural eastern Kenya. “I’m involved in a collaborative project in Patrick Kimani’s (G’09) rural village, Kamanzi, where we have worked with the community to build a new primary school, hold workshops for teachers, supply the local health clinic with a microscope and other necessities, basically building capacity in that community,” Masingila says.

Faculty members from Kenyatta University’s School of Education have worked alongside Masingila in leading workshops for some 120 teachers from 13 primary schools. Faculty members at both universities are working together to seek funding for collaborative research projects in teacher education, strong in their commitment to global partnerships in an effort to become more informed as educators and to provide students with the highest quality learning experience.

“I learn so much from my colleagues in Kenya, for example using locally available materials in learning tasks,” says Masingila. “I find it exciting to be involved with teacher education in Kenya and share my experiences with my colleagues and students in Syracuse.”

Another result of the collaboration has been the jointly sponsored International Conference on Education, held July 8-10, 2009, at the Kenyatta University Conference Centre. Masingila; John Tillotson, associate professor of science education; Melissa Luke, assistant professor of counseling; and Dennis Kwaka, doctoral student in Teaching and Curriculum, all presented research papers at the conference. Additionally, Tillotson was a keynote speaker at the conference, supporting the conference theme of “Innovative Teacher Education and Classroom Practice in the 21st Century.”

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