The Estonian Center for International Development (ESTDEV) has signed a partnership agreement with the University of Embu in Kenya. The collaboration will support Kenyan education reform as the country transitions to a competence-based curriculum.
According to a press release, the project's local partners, the University of Embu and the Kenyan Education Deans Forum, were inspired to approach ESTDEV with a proposal to work toward the much-needed changes due to an awareness of Estonia's model and best practices for teacher education.
Kenya has been working on educational reforms since 2017. Among them is the transition to a competence-based curriculum and the development of related programs to educate teachers.
Kristi Kulu, ESTDEV's program manager for education, said competence-based education focuses on the acquisition of specific skills that can be demonstrated in real-world applications. Kulu pointed out that the strength of this approach lies in placing the onus for learning on learners themselves
"It is said that the methods and spirit of teaching are more important than the curriculum. Therefore, the key to the success of these reforms is teacher education. Estonia's experience in both the implementation of a competency-based curriculum and the promotion of teacher education provides added value to the education reforms in Kenya. It is certainly a sign of confidence in the quality of Estonian education," said Kulu.
The Kenyan and Estonian ministries of education signed a memorandum of understanding 2022, providing a framework for cooperation between the two countries. ESTDEV's engagements with Kenyan education stakeholders have helped determine the precise areas in which Estonian expertise could be best put to use.
Experts from Estonian universities will facilitate discussions to develop a roadmap for the introduction of the necessary reforms. The task for those Kenyan universities responsible for teacher education will be align their current teacher education programs with the reformed national curriculum for general education. One of the main priorities is capacity building for teacher educators.
According to Katrin Winter, ESTDEV's regional head for Africa, the cooperation between ESTDEV and the University of Embu will have a positive impact for generations to come.
"I am proud that the Estonian education system speaks for itself and that we have been trusted by the University of Embu and the Education Deans Forum to contribute to teacher education reforms in Kenya. The education deans have a strong commitment to and passion for education. They have come together to support their government in pushing through these important changes and are determined to act as agents of change," said Winter.
According to Estonia's Strategy for Africa for 2020–2030, education and research cooperation is a priority in and of itself, though it is also an overarching thematic priority in ESTDEV's development cooperation. ESTDEV has already successfully implemented several bilateral projects, while also working with European Union partners on the design and implementation of large-scale projects. In doing so, the organization has increased the awareness of Estonia's educational value among the country's Eastern neighbors and partner countries in Africa.
Editor: Michael Cole