UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 13 | Nov.
Teaching the Teachers in Kenya
New Masters Degree in Education Makes it Possible
By Cate Korinth
Stepping into a classroom in Kenya feels like stepping back
in time. An authoritarian teaching style focuses on memorization
and discipline, a legacy of the days of British rule in Africa.
Add physical surroundings that are drab and bare - nothing
more than rows of desks and a blackboard - and it is almost
surprising to see these classrooms packed with up to 80 students.
Despite these primitive conditions, many Kenyan kids are so
keen to improve their lives that they literally run miles
to get to school every day.
Even for the kids whose families can afford the time and
resources to get them through school, life is harsh and chaotic.
Tribal warfare is frequent and carjackings are common. Poverty,
disease and death are facts of daily life.
Paul Beckingham, along with his wife and five children used
to live in Kenya where he worked as a missionary for two and
a half years. He is currently a theology professor at Carey
Theological College on the UBC campus.
I have been so touched by the Kenyan people Ive
met that I am dying to return and make a difference for teachers
and students, he says.
Beckingham believes that teacher enrichment is the answer
to the Kenyans outdated teaching style. To replace their
current tools of discipline and punishment, teachers need
the basic communication skills to help their students to learn.
Through teacher development workshops, Beckingham intends
to demonstrate counseling and listening skills.
But first, he realized that he would need to acquire some
new skills himself in order to help effectively. To teach
adults - they learn differently from children and teens -
he had to know more about adult learning styles. Furthermore,
if he were to teach teachers in a developing country, it was
crucial he properly understood the global forces that so strongly
impact these communities - economics, politics, culture and
history. The Faculty of Educations new Masters of Education
in Adult Learning and Global Change was a perfect match.
The progressive two-year program, nicknamed the Intercontinental
Masters, creates a global classroom on line. Through courses
and interactive discussion groups, students learn about globalization
and how it impacts the contexts in which adults learn.
Forty students from four universities living in South Africa,
Australia, Sweden and Canada - come together to learn not
only about their common interest, but also to learn from each
I have classmates that are educated black students
in South Africa - just like the people Im trying to
help develop in Kenya - and they are very insightful,
He hopes to return to Kenya in two years, once he graduates
and his teaching appointment at Carey Hall ends.