What is Semesa?

This research and development (R&D) project is funded by the Aga Khan Foundation under the SESEA program. It will focus upon SESEA components 1 (Professional Development of Educators) and 2 (Strengthening of Education Support Systems and Institutions). In doing so it will address research priority theme 2 (Teacher Development), which will also realize benefits for theme 1 (Teaching and Learning). International research evidence shows that effective teacher mentoring has a positive impact on teachers’ capability (Lindgren, 2005; Hobson et al., 2009), and that high quality teaching and teacher education contribute to raised levels of student learning (Bramwell et al., 2014).

This study seeks to develop new theoretical understandings of the relationships between pedagogy, culture and effective schemes for mentoring new pre-primary and primary educators. At the same time it provides a pedagogic model for the identification, development and support of effective mentoring practices by establishing a research partnership between the University of Brighton and two leading Kenyan university (Kenyatta University and Moi University) schools of education. Despite the improvements in student enrolment and attendance in East Africa and worldwide, many children are still not achieving desired learning outcomes (UNESCO, 2013). In recent decades, a convergence around learner-centered pedagogy has been observed at a global policy level, with numerous low-income countries initiating reforms to adapt pedagogies imported from the West. Nevertheless, there has been relatively little attention paid to how teachers in low-income countries can be supported and mentored to improve the quality of their teaching (Stephens, 2007).

The overriding aim of the proposed study is to design, implement and evaluate a contextually appropriate research-informed teacher mentorship programme which would: strengthen existing methods of preparing primary and pre-primary educators; enhance newly and recently qualified teachers’ knowledge, pedagogy, effectiveness, wellbeing and retention; have a positive impact on the learning of pupils taught by mentees and mentors; bring lasting systemic effects through developing the capacity of both teacher educators and researchers across Kenya and East Africa.

Twelve school-based teacher mentors will be appointed and trained (by a leading international mentoring and mentor development authority) to mentor 48 pre-primary and primary educators in schools in two zones in Kenya which reflect differences in location i.e. urban and rural, and socio-economic status.

The project will positively impact five groups of beneficiaries: mentors and mentees working in the project schools; the children taught by those mentees and mentors; the participating two Kenyan universities through informing their initial teacher education programmes and building research capacity; the Kenyan Ministry of Education and donor communities through policy contributions to raising the quality of teacher education and development (Hardman, F et.al; Ong’ondo, 2010); and the research community in providing a robust evidence-base for the development of teacher mentorship theory.

Research outputs will include: a curriculum for a mentoring course for inclusion in Early Childhood Development Education programmes in participating ITE institutions; a strengthening of the existing teacher mentoring course at Kenyatta University, a good practice teacher mentoring guidebook; several journal articles and policy briefs; and a developed plan for scaling up the project nationally and internationally across East Africa.

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