Kenyan professor: Education is everything

Katie Roupe

Marcelina Mbuwa Mwamjala and John Mshiri, Kenyan teachers, spoke to faculty and students last night in the Kiva about their lives and the Kenyan education system.

“I really believe education is key to everything,” said Mwamjala, who teaches in the village of Bungule. “Education is everything.”

The lecture was a part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.

“Tonight we celebrate the vision for our deep understanding of people for and of the world,” said Linda Robertson, director of Center for International and Intercultural Education. “This is enriching our campus communication with people to people exchanging ideas and issues.”

In a country where education recently became free for primary school students in 2003, education has become an important part of life.

“Long ago, children expected to get an inheritance from parents, like sheep or cows,” Mwamjala said. “But nowadays, parents tend to be more selfish. So we encourage our students to realize education is the only inheritance they can get.”

Both teachers said their hopes were for their students to get a university degree. Mshiri, who teaches in the village of Kiteghe, said he saw an increase in the number of students going on to higher education.

“With the support from visitors and government we will have our dream,” Mshiri said.

To achieve this dream, student are required to speak English during lessons.

“They must speak English,” Mshiri said. “A disk is passed around to the students if they are not speaking English. Whoever has the disk at the end, gets punished.”

The disciplinary actions for students in Kenya are different from those in America. In Kenya, a lesser misbehavior is punished by having the student sweep or pick up litter.

However, for more serious problems, students dig up tree stumps.

Angie White, senior early childhood education major, said it was beneficial to learn about the different education systems.

“It’s interesting to see the correlation from schools found here and in Kenya,” she said.

In Kenya, classes are led in similar ways with the presence of discipline, physical education and teaching methods, she said.

Robertson led the audience in a traditional Kenyan way of showing appreciation. Audience members clapped their hands, snapped their fingers and stomped a foot each three times to thank the visiting lecturers.

“We can’t have a group of teachers on stage without teaching the audience something,” Robertson said.

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Katie Roupe at [email protected].