The University of Nairobi and the International Rescue Committee Collaborate to Create a Hub of Expertise for Education in Emergencies in East Africa
Loise Gichuhi, Programme Coordinator for Education in Emergencies, University of Nairobi
Mary Mendenhall, Academic Consultant, International Rescue Committee
Juleen Morford, Intern, International Rescue Committee
To ensure that the millions of children around the world currently out of school as a result of violent conflict or natural disasters have the right not only to attend school, but to benefit from a quality and relevant education, more and better trained professionals are needed to work in the education sector.*
In recognition of the need for more practitioners, researchers and policymakers skilled in the provision of quality education during and after crises, the University of Nairobi and the International Rescue Committee have partnered to establish an innovative regional education in emergencies initiative in Nairobi, Kenya. This unique three-year partnership will build a hub of expertise in East Africa by offering the world’s first ever Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, a certificate program and shorter study courses for education in emergencies at the University of Nairobi’s School of Education. The academic program will combine coursework, field placements and in-depth research to help students and existing practitioners develop the essential skills and competencies to deliver quality education in complex emergencies. With support from the International Rescue Committee, the University of Nairobi’s School of Education faculty and students will also conduct urgently needed research within the expanding field of education in emergencies in collaboration with other national and international partner organizations working in the region.
Photo Credits: IRC/Mary Mendenhall
Children from displaced communities
The University of Nairobi is the largest and oldest university in Kenya, and its School of Education is ideally situated to include education in emergencies as part of its academic program. Whereas Nairobi, Kenya has already become an active hub for humanitarian and development agencies working in the region, the city is an appropriate site for strengthening education in emergencies expertise and training for East Africa. The International Rescue Committee is a global leader in humanitarian assistance in its own right and works in more than 40 countries providing relief to refugees and other conflict-affected populations. The three-year partnership between the University of Nairobi and the International Rescue Committee, which has been generously supported by Unbound Philanthropy (a private U.S. foundation), is currently in its first year, with graduate-level classes scheduled to begin during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Photo Credits: IRC/Jo Offer
The IRC donated school desks to help schools affected by the post-election violence that wracked Kenya in 07/08. (Some schools were burned down in Trans Nzoia District, and so neighboring schools took in the extra pupils and needed additional desks to seat them all.)
Since the partnership’s official launch in March 2009, the University of Nairobi and the International Rescue Committee have been working together on the following activities: faculty development, curriculum development, identification of fieldwork and internship opportunities for students, creation of a resource center, and building essential partnerships with other organizations for short-, medium- and long-term activities. The multi-level academic program will be open to students, academics and practitioners in Kenya and the East African sub-region, as well as other parts of the world. Whereas the M.Ed. program is geared for those students with limited prior knowledge of education in emergencies, the certificate and short courses will provide opportunities for more experienced practitioners to enhance their current knowledge and expand their competencies in specific areas. Upon completion of the M.Ed., graduating students may, depending on previous work experience and new knowledge and skills gained, resume or begin work in schools as teachers or administrators; join the Ministry of Education as civil servants to build capacity to deliver inclusive and quality education in prevention, response and reconstruction efforts; or work with aid agencies or other international development organizations.
The University of Nairobi and the International Rescue Committee are eager to expand their partnership to include academics and practitioners engaged in work and research relevant to the field of education in emergencies. By reaching a diverse constituency across East Africa and beyond, the partnership will help to establish the University of Nairobi as a hub of expertise within the field of education in emergencies, and more importantly, will increase both access to and quality of education for the region’s children affected by complex emergencies resulting from conflict or natural disasters.
Throughout this process, the CIES community will be an important resource for the University of Nairobi faculty and students involved in the new education in emergencies program. CIES members are invited and encouraged to participate in the partnership by contributing to capacity building of University of Nairobi’s School of Education faculty by offering training opportunities for faculty members, facilitating field visits for professors, hosting students during their fieldwork, contributing resources to the resource library, and collaborating in joint research endeavors with University of Nairobi faculty and students.
We also encourage you to attend our panel session—NGO-University Partnership for Building Capacity for Education in Emergencies in East Africa—at the upcoming CIES Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois to learn more about the program and how to become involved with this innovative initiative.
Loise Gichuhi, Ph.D., Program Coordinator for Education in Emergencies, University of Nairobi, email@example.com, www.uonbi.ac.ke
Mary Mendenhall, Ed.D., Academic Consultant, International Rescue Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.theirc.org
*UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and UNICEF. (2005). Children Out of School: Measuring Exclusion from Primary School. Montreal, Canada: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
Steven J. Klees
Donna C. Tonini
Mariella I. Arredondo
Mary Mendenhall and Juleen Morford
William C. Brehm, and
OSI 2010 Travel Grant Recipient:
Dr. Subba Rao Ilapavuluri
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