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USAID partnership program provides funding to School of Education for quality teaching education collaboration with Kenyatta University

September 16, 2010

Jennifer Russo
(315) 443-4751

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED), have announced that 11 innovative new partnerships between 22 universities in Africa and the United States have each been awarded up to $1.1 million for activities to address issues including food security and agriculture, solar energy, health care, education and water in Africa. These partnerships will maximize the resources of U.S. institutions, while placing African universities in the lead to capitalize on their on-the-ground knowledge and proximity to the challenges and build their own capacity to better address these challenges.

kenyaAs part of the partnership program, Syracuse University will receive $860,700 for “Building Capacity through Quality Teacher Preparation,” a partnership project between SU and Kenyatta University in Kenya, East Africa, with the goal to prepare and support teachers to become proficient in their subject matter and instructional design, while also assisting with the development of learning communities and establishing a framework for continuous professional growth of teaching practitioners. This funding is for the first two years of this collaborative project, with the possibility of more funding in future years.

These 11 partnerships have detailed five-year strategic plans with a 10-year vision to address national and regional development priorities in sub-Saharan Africa through human and institutional capacity development via higher education. Funded by USAID through a grant to HED, the partnerships are the result of the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative, a collaborative effort started in 2007 by a number of higher education associations and other organizations and led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A-P-L-U) to advocate for increased engagement in African higher education capacity development.

Building on their strong traditions in teacher education and existing institutional linkage, Syracuse University’s School of Education and Kenyatta University’s School of Education are united in their desire to be integrally involved in and at the cutting edge of preparing and supporting highly qualified teachers in their continued growth.

Through the partnership’s needs assessment and strategic planning, the institutions will address the challenging issues of:

  • some teachers’ lack of deep and connected subject matter knowledge;
  • a separation of teacher preparation courses from student learning;
  • subject methods courses taught in large lectures that offer little opportunity for prospective teachers to learn to analyze teaching in terms of student learning;
  • preparing teachers to teach in schools with limited resources;
  • preparing teachers to support English language learners; and
  • preparing teachers to plan and adapt instruction to engage all students.

Through teleconferences, scholar exchanges at each partner institution, KU faculty members earning “sandwich” degrees through both SU and KU, and joint face-to-face planning both in Kenya and in the United States, the partners will work to build the capacity of the teacher education faculty and program at Kenyatta University, as well as improve secondary education throughout Kenya by working in cooperation with the Kenyan Ministry of Education and other partners. The partners at Kenyatta University and SU envision inviting other institutions to collaborate through new and existing relationships in the United States and in Kenya.

This project builds on the already strong collaboration between SU’s School of Education and Kenyatta University, spearheaded and led by SU Professor of Mathematics Education Joanna Masingila. A decade ago, SU and Kenyatta established a formal institutional linkage through their respective schools of education, demonstrating the commitment by both universities to improve 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.

Since this institutional linkage was established, several former Kenyatta University students have come to SU for graduate studies, many entering into and completing the doctoral program. And Masingila has worked with colleagues at Kenyatta University on professional development workshops for teachers in rural eastern Kenya. Faculty members from Kenyatta University’s School of Education have worked alongside Masingila in leading workshops for some 120 teachers from 13 primary schools.

“We are extremely grateful to USAID and the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative partnership program through HED for this funding, which will strengthen our collaborative research projects in teacher education, and our commitment to global partnerships,” says Masingila. “Our goal in mind is always to become more informed as educators and to provide students with the highest-quality learning experiences.”

“The citizens, academics and civic and educational institutions of developing countries must be integrated into the way we partner to address development challenges,” says USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa Franklin Moore. “In this way, we can ensure that projects are sustainable, reflect decades of lessons learned, are maximally effective and targeted, and help to build in-country capacity to solve development challenges. Universities are among the most important parts of civil society, and their engagement in policy and program design and implementation is critically important.”

“Higher education is critical to building a strong Africa,” says A-P-L-U President Peter McPherson. “These partnerships will combine the knowledge and resources of African and U.S. universities to solve some of the critical issues hindering economic development in African countries and each of the sectors in which USAID is working. Developed in partnership with African higher education and government leaders, these projects are part of the vision USAID and the other partners have for Africa.”

“The partners’ expertise and drive have been proven through success in a highly competitive review and selection process,” says HED Executive Director Tully Cornick. “I am encouraged to see today’s plans being transformed into sustainable solutions through applied research, higher education opportunities and community involvement. These Africa-led partnerships have seized an opportunity for change and reflect a deep level of understanding shaped by the contributions of the African institution partners.”

USAID has provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years. The HED works closely with USAID and is founded by the nation’s six presidential higher education associations to support the involvement of higher education in development issues worldwide.

The Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative was established in July 2007 to advocate for increased U.S. engagement in African higher education capacity development, with the main purpose of increasing teaching, problem solving and administrative capacity in African institutions. The A-P-L-U spearheaded the development of this initiative and continues to provide resources and leadership. The American Council on Education provides important administrative and financial support. Also engaged in the undertaking are: the American Association of Community Colleges; the Association of African Universities; the Association of American Universities; the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Forum for Agricultural Research; HED; the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa; and USAID.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.HEDprogram.org.

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