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One of the visiting senior lecturers from Walter Sisulu University (WSU), South Africa, Dr. Newline Marongwe, emphasized that a University should not only confine itself to teaching and learning, but also producing publications in reputable journals. “When it comes to University rankings, both nationally and internationally, one of the key indicators is usually research output. Publishing places institutions of higher learning on the global map and is also a way of attracting funding,” said Dr. Marongwe during her presentation.

Senior lecturer and researcher at MMUST, Dr. James Bill Ouda, reiterated that research is a key component in any University and that postgraduate students are considered as researchers. Dr. Ouda enlightened Workshop participants on the stages that a postgraduate student goes through at MMUST, right from admission, supervision, examination, to completion. 

image 64susulu

From left: Dr. Newline Marongwe (WSU), MMUST’s VC, Prof. Solomon Shibairo and Dr. Grasia Chisango (WSU)

MMUST’s Professor of educational and social psychology, Prof. Peter Odera, talked about joint publications, pointing out that there are some problems faced in the society which require researchers from different fields to solve. “Globally, scholars are being encouraged to go multi-disciplinary in order to attain higher standards of results,” stated Prof. Odera. He urged WSU and MMUST research teams to agree on which topics to collaborate on. “The topic should have inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches to enable it to attract funding,” he said.

Further, Prof. Odera stated that it is desirable for the two (2) Universities to develop a peer review journal, one that has high impact and a vibrant editorial board.

During his presentation on the School of Education’s approach to decolonization, Dr. Phillip Mukonyi, who is an expert in Sociology and History of Education, echoed the need for MMUST and WSU to collaborate in research. “Colonialism was a tool of dismemberment and de-culturalization. Since we share common colonial experiences, we can work together to alleviate the negative aspects of colonialism,” said Dr. Mukonyi.

“Teachers at a University are specialists in the areas they teach and for them to be that, they should always have current information or knowledge,” said the Chairperson of MMUST’s Department of Curriculum Instructional Technology, Prof. Aggrey Simiyu. Prof. Simiyu was presenting on the topic of teaching and learning, with an emphasis on higher education. According to him, a University lecturer must of necessity be a researcher. They should not keep knowledge to themselves but rather equip learners and their colleagues with new information.

image 65susuluA section of workshop participants, including Dr. Newline Marongwe and Dr. Grasia Chisango of Walter Sisulu University

Community engagement is a recognized activity in higher education. “The value of community engagement and outreach in the School of Education cannot be underscored,” stated the senior lecturer and specialist in early childhood education, Dr. Rose Opiyo. According to Dr. Opiyo, the aspect of community engagement runs through MMUST’s vision and mission. She highlighted examples of outreaches that have involved School of Education’s scholars including the iHELP project, which focuses on establishing home-based centers to increase opportunities for children to access early childhood care and education, as well as the Sickle Cell Project (SCP), in which MMUST has partnered with Ball State University, USA. She also talked about the African Women in Science and Engineering (AWSE) outreaches and the School’s gender and social justice initiatives.

According to the Chairman of MMUST’s Department of Educational Psychology, Dr. Edward K. Okaya, the University has put in place measures to ensure that Inclusive Education (IE) succeeds in Kenya. “Currently, there are two (2) compulsory Units in the School of Education that touch on IE. We have introduced Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) as an optional unit and we have a certificate course in KSL as well,” said Dr. Okaya, adding that MMUST engages the community and collaborates in inclusive matters and conducts research in IE.

Dr. Manson Shichari, an Inclusive Education specialist, who was presenting on the same topic, said that the idea of IE is to increase participation and reduce exclusion. “There is a need to prepare disabled learners to live ‘normal’ lives. It is however a very difficult concept to grasp,” stated Dr. Shichari.

Philosophy of Education lecturer, Mr. Elvis Omondi Kauka, in his presentation on ICT tools for teaching and learning, stated that MMUST is an institution that recognizes and respects technology. He noted that the Directorate of ICT services and the Directorate of Open, Distance and eLearning (ODeL), MMUST, are the key partners as far as ICT teaching and learning is concerned. Mr. Kauka recommended a blended mode of teaching and learning so that there can be balance. He also appealed to the University Management for more ICT materials in the School of Education.

The longstanding collaboration between MMUST and WSU, as well as the deliberations of this Workshop, are clear pointers to the fact that MMUST is ably carrying out its mandate of teaching, research and community outreach.

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