SPOKANE, Wash. – Twenty-five teachers from the Charles Lwanga College of Education in Zambia are at Gonzaga University for two weeks as part of a program Gonzaga designed to help them realize their dream of turning their school into an independent university. Gonzaga hopes the effort will assist the College in transforming teacher education in Zambia.
Gonzaga adapted its Master’s of Education in Leadership and Administration program to be delivered on-site, online, and in Spokane. A requirement from the Zambia Ministry of Education for their two-year school to become an independent, four-year university – authorized to grant bachelor degrees – is that the teachers hold master’s degrees. Located in the southern province of the Republic of Zambia, the school currently grants two-year degrees for aspiring elementary school teachers.
Jon Sunderland, who spearheaded the initiative as dean of Gonzaga’s School of Education, described organizers’ hopes.
“Our hope is that when we train their instructors in strategies and methods that are atypical for Zambian schools of education, and they then teach and train the future elementary and middle and secondary teachers in Zambia using these same methods, it will have this exponentially growing benefit to Zambia’s educational system,” Sunderland said. “It will create a different form of education that places more value on developmental education, and teaching and learning.”
The program, which will conclude in December 2014, is a hybrid of Gonzaga School of Education courses in the Master of Education and the Master of Leadership and Administration programs, along with teacher education courses. The program also includes a class in second-language acquisition. Gonzaga faculty travel to Zambia for a week at the start of each course and meet with students daily before leaving them with assignments to be finished online for the remaining seven weeks of each course.
Gonzaga is providing room, board and tuition for the two-week summer component; the students are required to pay only for their airfare, insurance and visas. The initiative demonstrates Gonzaga’s response, as a Jesuit apostolate, to meaningfully engage in the service of faith and promotion of justice where it’s most needed in the world, as directed at the last worldwide meeting of the Society of Jesus, the 35th General Congregation in Rome (2008). Decree 3 of the General Congregation identifies Africa among regional preferences for special attention. Gonzaga’s initiative also responds to a long-extant twinning agreement between the Jesuit provinces of Zambia-Malawi and the Oregon Province, which includes Gonzaga, promoting mutual advancement.
“The greatest hope for individual, societal and intellectual advancement, for meaningful development, for the chance to build a better and more peaceful world, lies in the possibilities that higher education brings to the world and its people,” said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh. “In very important ways, our students and faculty are engaging with those that the Society of Jesus has asked us to effectively engage with and support – people who truly need us, but whom we need as well.”
The genesis of the program traces to 2007 when President McCulloh (then vice president for administration) visited the Jesuit Province of Zambia-Malawi with Rev. Patrick Lee, S.J., at that time Gonzaga’s vice president for mission. Rev. Lee is now provincial of the Oregon Province.
That experience spawned a fact-finding trip to Zambia by Sunderland, along with faculty colleagues Raymond Reyes and Susan Norwood. Financial support from Gonzaga Trustee Don Herak and benefactor John Rudolf proved foundational. Reyes and GU education Associate Professor Deborah Nieding were Gonzaga’s first faculty in the program. Nieding continues to teach in the program while Reyes has worked with Sunderland to make the program a reality. Associate Professor Jonas Cox taught there last summer. Relationships blossomed as Gonzaga conducted four-week, faculty-led study abroad trips to the school the past two summers, allowing GU students to interact with the Charles Lwanga faculty. The program was officially approved last year and began in spring 2013.
At a breakfast welcoming the students Monday, President McCulloh thanked everyone involved in supporting the program, including Rudolf, who attended the event. President McCulloh also thanked Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who was in attendance, for her continued support of higher education.
For more information, please contact Peter Tormey at (509) 313-6132 or via email.