University of Nairobi looks to Chang School for academic expertise and development
July 20, 2012
The University of Nairobi (UON) in Kenya has found a partner in Ryerson.
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education recently worked with the University of Nairobi to develop a five-year strategic plan for a post-graduate program at UON in education in emergencies.
“The Education in Emergencies initiative is a great opportunity to work with on-the-ground experts on best practices and challenges for the education preparedness and response to conflict and emergency situations,” said Gervan Fearon, dean of The Chang School. “Varying degrees of knowledge and skill have been exchanged in this partnership, and at the end of the day, it will benefit the people who need it most.”
The Gateway Program for Internationally Educated Professionals at The Chang School was instrumental in providing capacity for the initiative with the University of Nairobi. The Chang School offers expertise in creating and delivering academic and experiential educational programs, as demonstrated in its Certificate in Disaster Emergency Management.
The University of Nairobi was supported by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global relief and development organization, to build a centre of expertise in East Africa by offering a Specialization in Education in Emergencies as part of UON’s Master of Education degree in Educational Administration and Planning. Ryerson’s role includes working and consulting with leading organizations, such as the United Nations and UNICEF, and facilitating workshops to develop UON’s MA program.
Education in Emergencies focuses on the role of education and the schooling system in addressing and resolving potential conflict and emergency situations. For instance, Education in Emergencies plays an important role in providing educational opportunities in locations such as Dadaab in Kenya. Dadaab is considered the largest refugee camp in the world with an estimated 500,000 individuals living there. The camp was built to support 90,000 people so food and water are scarce and education is often not an option for children. Informal classes were first held in open fields and under trees starting in 1991 but children are rarely able to progress to higher levels due to community and family obligations.
In 2010, 1,637 students completed primary school but only 569 were admitted to secondary school in 2011, said Marangu Njogu, executive director of Windle Trust Kenya (WTK) and a member of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). Funding challenges have made it difficult to expand educational institutions in Dadaab to accommodate the large number of refugees.
Njogu has dedicated nearly 30 years of his life to improving the circumstances of refugees around the world through education and community service programs. He was recently at Ryerson to give a talk on the history of refugee education in Dadaab and how it has transformed the lives of refugees. Fearon also had an opportunity to visit the schools in Dadaab in a recent trip in February 2012.
“In 1998, the first group of 10 refugee children received Kenyan certification of primary education, admitting them to high school,” Njogu said. “This created an instant motivation and desire for education. Over the years, refugees have embraced education as a valuable investment.”
Windle Trust Kenya offers 60 scholarships to students studying in Kenya and WUSC has been a positive alternative to supporting refugees who wish to pursue higher education.
Ryerson has a WUSC chapter, which sponsored Habib Abdullahi to Toronto from the Dadaab refugee camp. Abdullahi will start his third year in the fall at the Ted Rogers School of Management.