Finnish-Kenyan collaboration spurs transformation in education with TOTEMK initiative

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In a groundbreaking collaborative effort between Finnish and Kenyan partners, the Training of Trainers for Education Management in Kenya (TOTEMK) project has successfully reached a significant milestone. Generously funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland, TOTEMK represents a remarkable initiative uniting esteemed institutions such as the University of Helsinki, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, the University of Nairobi, Pwani University, Strathmore University, and 20 other Kenyan universities.

 

Commencing amidst the challenging circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, TOTEMK emerged with a resolute mission: to fortify the capacity of teacher education and institutional management in Kenya. Its primary objective is to empower educators with the requisite skills necessary for proficiently implementing the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) in Kenyan schools, in alignment with the evolving demands of the labor market. The project encompasses four pivotal modules: leveraging modern technologies for enriched learning experiences, cultivating 21st-century skills, embracing CBC pedagogies, and addressing socio-cultural aspects. These modules were thoughtfully delivered in a hybrid format, ensuring participants had access to materials through both in-person and online sessions, with continued post-module resources available.

One of the notable outcomes of the project was the strategic selection of three lecturers from partner and participating universities for each module. This intentional move empowered 12 lecturers from diverse academic fields with specialized training, enabling them to disseminate acquired knowledge and skills among their colleagues within their respective institutions.

Additionally, TOTEMK sparked growth in the educational technology landscape by fostering collaborations between educators and entrepreneurs. This symbiotic exchange facilitated the evaluation of solutions, significantly contributing to refining their product-market fit.

Embarking on its second phase, the TOTEMK project is set to launch Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), with each module offering its own credits. Accessible through the project portal at totem.ke/eLearning, the official launch was scheduled for November 28, 2023. This collaborative endeavor between Finnish and Kenyan partners underlines the proactive stance of Kenyan universities preparing for the anticipated influx of CBC students in 2027/2028.

Notably, these MOOCs will be provided as free courseware, solidifying the commitment to accessible education. Even after the project concludes in 2024, the MOOC materials will remain accessible, ensuring a sustained impact. Anticipating universities to take the lead in embracing CBC readiness within Kenyan institutions, TOTEMK MOOCs are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of education in Kenya.

Dr. Ogutu, Strathmore University Vice Chancellor, expressed enthusiasm about the project’s potential to revolutionize education in Kenya, emphasizing the importance of nurturing values alongside skills, not just among teachers but also parents.

Dr. Hellen and Dr. Joseph Wambua highlighted evidence-based strategies and collaborative learning as key components, while Dr. Alfred Kitawi emphasized the importance of preparing both students and lecturers in adapting to the evolving role of AI in education. ‘For now, we should train students to be themselves and submit their own work. Also, capacitate the teachers to be able to detect what is AI generated’.

Dr. Fred Namasaka discussed the urgency for higher learning institutions to enhance expertise and benchmark with others, urging the embrace of AI to cater to the changing needs and desires of learners. Tomi from TOTEMK elucidates the concept of MOOCs and their significance in education, emphasizing their role as a pedagogical solution that does not replace traditional teaching methods but rather complements them.

 

Article written by Martha Ogonjo and Teresa Nekesa.

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