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Thursday, September 23, 2021 – American teachers will be sent to Kenya and Tanzania in early 2022 for a five-week benchmarking program. 

The 14 teachers from Northern Illinois University (NIU) will visit the two East African countries to learn local languages including Swahili and the challenges of teaching in Africa.

The university announced early today that the 14 tutors will benefit from the institution’s program dubbed Educate Global.

Of the 14, seven will be undergraduate teacher-licensure candidates and seven graduate students who are practicing teachers.

Other than learning the challenges and participating in educational activities, the American teachers will also be tasked with understanding social cohesion in Africa and how racism affects the US. 

College of Education faculty official, James Cohen, encouraged American teachers to change their perspective, evaluate how race affects US citizens, reflect on themselves differently as cultural and racial beings and use the opportunity to grow. 

“The United States is a highly racialized society, and despite the fact that both Kenya and Tanzania were colonized, they’re more tribal than racial. 

“The people we’re going to be taking there, having been raised in the United States, all have racialized perspectives, whether they acknowledge them or not.”

“What we’re hoping is to remove race, in a sense, from the equation – and to see how our students can actually interact with their students as much as possible by mediating that racialized perspective. 

“It’s going to be an experiment,” Cohen stated. 

He hoped that they would look at individuals from a knowledge perspective rather than colour or race.

The teachers will also interact with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and meeting local leaders in Kenya and Tanzania to learn more about the culture and tradition of residents. 

Teresa Wasonga, a Presidential Engagement Professor at NIU and co-founder of Jane Adeny Memorial School in Kenya, urged American teachers to get first-hand experience on the African culture and challenges and how they can learn from them.

Her school, Jane Adeny Memorial School, will serve as one of the sites hosting the American teachers. The school is an all-girls boarding secondary institution. 


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