School of Education Builds Relations in Kenya


By Amanda Morad

Part of Regent University's mission to train Christian leaders to change the world includes engaging with international partners across the globe. The School of Education (SOE), in partnership with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), is doing just that in Kenya as they build relationships with several universities and educators throughout the country.

During the spring semester, SOE professors Dr. Mervyn Wighting and Dr. Gail Derrick traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to meet with national education officials and university representatives from Pan Africa Christian University, Kenyatta University, the University of Nairobi and Moi University.

Wighting and Derrick's meetings with these institutions led to discussions about future student exchange programs, research partnerships with professors and, most notably, the possible design of a full education program for Pan Africa Christian University (PAC).

Wighting and Derrick's meetings also included discussions with the Kenyan Ministry of Education director and deputy directors, as well as the director for adult education.

"Our discussion focused upon teacher training and the issues of access, equity, relevance and quality," Derrick said. "The use of online learning generated a lengthy discussion. The director was most interested in our delivery options and experience in online professional development for teachers and administrators, as well as continuing education options."

Kenyan educators in the distant provinces do not have the opportunity to attend professional development events due to distance and time. The issue of how to reach nomadic populations of children using online or other technology formats, such as CDs, was also discussed. Regent, Derrick explained, is specially equipped to help these educators get the professional development they need and the necessary resources for their students because of their success with online classroom models.

During the trip, Wighting and Derrick also conducted several professional development workshops for teachers at local high schools and K-12 schools in the Kenyan cities of Nairobi, Chogoria, Mwatate and Nakuru. At these workshops, they also collected data in order to prepare a cost analysis report for what future partnerships with these schools could feasibly entail.

Many of the trip's meetings and contacts were arranged due in large part to the ACLJ's in-country support for education. Their connections facilitated the planning and implementation of SOE's initiatives. "We [were] very well received throughout the journey and have established contacts in every area we visited with the possibility of establishing cohorts and continuing education programs," Derrick said.

"Our time in Kenya far exceeded our expectations," Wighting reported. "The teachers we met and worked with were very appreciative as they view the education of Kenyan children as the catalyst to national development."

A second visit to Kenya to conduct further workshops is in the works for fall 2012.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
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