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Salesians to Equip Kenyan Teachers with Skills for Future in Pioneer Training Program

A flyer announcing a training of teachers, lecturers, professors and seminary lecturers by the Salesians of Don Bosco in Nairobi

There is a need to prepare learners for the rapidly changing learning space, the leadership of the Kenya-based Don Bosco Youth Educational Services (DBYES) has said while launching an initiative aimed to retrain teachers in the East African country.

DBYES Director of Programs and member of Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Fr. Sahaya Selvam told ACI Africa Monday, March 15 that in the project, one of its kind in Kenya, teachers “and those close to teachers” will be trained on self-learning among other skills for the 21st century.

Fr. Selvam observed that the work environment is changing and learners need to be prepared for the changes.

“Think about a child born in 2015 who is starting school this year and is expected to join university or college in 2033. In 2040 when this child will be looking for a job, the environment will be different from what we know now.”

He added, “We don’t know what kinds of jobs will be available in future. In recent years, we have seen some jobs become extinct while others came up owing to technology. We can’t even tell the nature of the working environment in 2040.”

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The Indian-born Professor in Psychology and veteran educationist who is previously served in academic administration at Nairobi-based Tangaza University College (TUC) notes that the learning environment is changing, expecting teachers to be more hands-on with digital literacy skills.

He told ACI Africa that the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about closure of schools, requiring teachers and learners to engage in more remote learning, exposed weaknesses in the current education system in the region.

“Teachers were expected to engage with their learners digitally. But up to now, there are teachers who are still very scared of technology,” the SDB educationist said.

Dubbed “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century,” the three-day training, which is set to start on March 30 will be hinged on technology enhanced learning, information literacy, educational strategies for the 21st century, and teaching and learning strategies.

Participants will be equipped with information literacy and digital skills necessary for self-learning, the SDB Cleric who has lived in East Africa for over 30 years told ACI Africa March 15.

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He further said that in the digital and information era, there are a lot of learning resources, which are of little use to learners who lack information skills.

“There are so many educational materials on the Internet. The problem is that not many know whether they are available and how they can be accessed in a safe manner. Still, there is need to be able to gauge the authenticity of these learning materials since not all information available out there is safe for consumption,” said Fr. Selvam.

In the training, which is expected to provide for blended learning, learners will have three days of face-to-face interactions with instructors at the DBYES headquarters in Nairobi’s Karen suburb.

This will be followed by self-paced online learning through a learning management system during which participants will be guided with 10 themes that will be provided by their instructors.

More than 20 topics will be delivered in the training, which costs KSh.6,000.00 (US$60.00) including competencies for 4th industrial revolution, intellectual agility, flipped classroom, personal teaching philosophy, among others.

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For a start, only 25 applicants will be selected to undergo the training and will be given certificates at the end of it. Fr. Selvam told ACI Africa that he will take the lead in the training that will also bring on board instructors from other universities.

He says that the planned training differs from what the Kenyan government is doing to increase literacy on the Competency-based Curriculum (CBC), a new curriculum that is taking root in the East African country.

“I have had various engagements with the CBC, and I understand that in the training for the new curriculum, teachers are told how the system works and the expected outcomes. Our training is more hands-on for educators who will be trained on how they can push their learners towards self-learning,” the Professor in Psychology explained.

The DBYES training is one of its kind, Fr. Selvam says, noting that the online available program is offered in universities. In South Africa, for instance, universities offer degrees for university lectures on teaching and learning.

The training, the Salesian Cleric explained, is ideal for teachers, lecturers, professors, seminary lecturers and any other parties related to teachers, including head teachers and policy makers.

In Seminaries, he said, Philosophy and Theology teachers are “the least prepared in terms of contemporary teaching.”

“Some of our Seminaries produce Priests who are completely out of place in the contemporary world,” he told ACI Africa, underscoring the need for lecturers in Seminaries to undergo reskilling.

“They (lecturers in Seminaries) go to Rome to get a degree in Theology and come here to teach without any skills in passing knowledge. Instead of teaching, they just stand in front of the class and read notes to students,” the SDB don said.

He noted that during COVID-19, some Priests have been forwarding information that is not scientifically true, underscoring the need for teaching during formation to impart Seminarians with information literacy skills to help them judge the authenticity of information.