Durham College leads the curriculum building project in Kenya

Photo provided by Michelle Hutt

Katie Boone and Michelle Hutt met with representatives from Sigalagala National Polytechnic

Durham College is working with post-secondary institutes in Kenya on two projects, one to help strengthen curriculum and teaching practices and the other to work on gender equality.

The first project was led by Durham College and took place at both Kitale National Polytechnic and Eldoret National Polytechnic. Its focus was on gender mainstreaming and bringing more women into leadership positions, as well as more female students into male dominated industries.

During the second project, Durham College worked alongside three other Canadian colleges at Sigalagala National Polytechnic to propose and create curriculum that would get students ready for certification in the solar PV and renewable energy industries. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) is a method of generating electricity by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into electrons.

These two projects are part of a bigger eight-project initiative called the Kenya Education for Employment Program (KEFEP).

KEFEP is funded partially by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) through Global Affairs Canada, which provided $880,000, and the colleges themselves, which funded $231,968. The total funding for KEFEP is $1.1 million.

Durham College visited the three institutes in Kenya in February of this year.

While at Kitale and Eldoret, Katie Boone, Durham College’s manager of International Projects and Partnerships, spoke at a gender equality seminar during their 10-day trip. This workshop aimed to follow up on the gender mainstreaming, a concept that had been introduced earlier, and help institutional leaders recognize that it needed to be addressed within their schools.

Hutt says the seminar helped define the differences between the biological sexes and how that can affect curriculum in terms of safety requirements.

“If you have an individual who has built curriculum around a typically male industry, it might not address some of the physiological female characteristics,” she says. “For example, if I was in that program, it may not tell me to tie back my hair if I’m welding or working with something that generates flame.”

While at Sigalagala, Durham College representatives worked with educators to host their first Industry Advisory Committee, which would help get real world industry feedback that could be used to help improve curriculum for future students.

“My role, alongside the executive dean of our department, was to share a Canadian framework around program advisory committees,” says Michelle Hutt, the associate dean of the School of Business at Durham College. “And for a Canadian perspective to be presented in terms of how they might shape their thinking.”

One of the requirements for this project was for Canadian schools to propose curriculum that would engage industry, all while keeping in mind that what they’re developing would have to meet the needs or bridge the gaps for growth in industries where there are jobs.

With this program, not only are the students in Kenya benefitting from a perspective outside their own locally driven education, Hutt says students at Durham College and partner colleges, Humber and Algonquin, are also getting the chance to benefit from an international perspective on education that is being brought back to shape their own curriculum.

Hutt says the experience was “monumental” and “marked history in Kenya.”

The next visit to Kenya takes place in May of this year and will include representatives and students from Durham College.