Guest Editorial: Meredith Fenton | Aga Khan Academies

Guest Editorial: Meredith Fenton

As the University of British Columbia’s new Director of the International Baccalaureate Program for the Faculty of Education, I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to partner with and learn alongside the Aga Khan Academy (AKA) in Mombasa, Kenya, and in particular, the Teacher Preparation Programme (TPP). Our team of adjunct faculty look forward to working collaboratively with six new AKA teacher interns and their school mentors over the course of the next 18 months.

Beginning to build relationships from afar and learn about who these teacher interns are as people and emerging educators is our priority. In early January, we had the pleasure of meeting via Skype new AKA teacher interns Lucas Mwafusi, Maurine Akoth, Fiona Makena, Oliver Baya, Iyad Yuka and Phelly Nekesa. They are an enthusiastic and committed group much like the teacher candidates here in our programme in Vancouver! We also enjoyed meeting Tom Abuto, the TPP Coordinator, as well as Jonathan Marsh, Manager of Professional Development, Aga Khan Academies. Most recently, we shared the biographies and photos of our 6 new interns within our faculty as a first step in warmly welcoming them to our global learning community.

What is unique about our pilot programme is that each AKA teacher intern will be thoughtfully paired with an experienced UBC IB adjunct faculty member who has expertise or interest in their teaching subjects. Over the course of the programme, it is hoped that this one-one relationship will be a powerful and innovative learning experience for both UBC and the AKA, providing a unique lens through which to reimagine and reshape teacher education in a cross-cultural context.

Last spring, the Aga Khan Academy, International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) and University of British Columbia entered a partnership agreement to recognise the AKA’s Teacher Preparation Programme (TPP) in Mombasa. Within this agreement, UBC faculty members will evaluate teachers engaged in the TPP in order to be recognised as IB educators.

Over the course of several months, our IB team consisting of past Director, Gary Little and IB adjunct faculty, Shanaz Ramji-Motani, Isobel Willard, David Andrews, Glenda Kukulowicz and Luke Modder, worked together, in consultation with Jonathon Marsh and the IBO, to develop assessment criteria which will be piloted with the teacher interns. The newly created IB Certification Criteria is comprised of four sections, reflecting the domains of knowledge outlined in the IB certificate in teaching and learning: Curriculum Processes, Teaching and Learning, Assessment and Learning, and Professional Learning.

As the programme unfolds, UBC IB faculty will check in regularly with the teacher interns and their mentors via Skype and provide feedback as the interns prepare their portfolios for final submission in June 2019. Upon successful completion, the AKA teacher interns will be eligible to receive an IB certificate in teaching and learning (IBCTL) from the International Baccalaureate.

Such a partnership between the AKA and UBC brings the combined capabilities and expertise of both organisations to bear on improving the educational opportunities available to young people in Africa and promotes a deeper and better informed global perspective among teachers and students in British Columbia. It reflects the true spirit of international mindedness and global citizenship, two key tenets of IB, and pluralism, so central to the work of the Acadamies, that we, as teacher educators and learners, aim to model and to which we aspire for the benefit of our teacher candidates and future generations of children in their care.

As one of the world’s top research universities supporting international initiatives designed to improve the quality of teaching and learning globally, UBC IB Education is honoured to partner with the Aga Khan Academy in this pilot project which has the potential to impact the lives of both children and teachers alike across continents.

By Meredith Fenton