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Teacher Education Project wins Quality of Education in Africa Award

Frances VavrusThe Teaching in Action program, initiated by associate professor Frances Vavrus, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, has received the Ashoka Changemakers Champions of Quality Education in Africa award. The award, sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlitt Foundation, went to three programs drawn from a pool of 400 international entrants.

Teaching in Action is based at Mwenge University College of Education in northern Tanzania, and it brings together Tanzanian and U.S. educators to help the country's high school teachers use more inquiry-based, student-centered methods in core teaching subjects. The goal is for the university's faculty and the participating high school teachers to become models of active, participatory pedagogy in a country where rote memorization and formalistic teaching are the norm. The program grew out of the sabbatical Vavrus spent at Mwenge University as a Fulbright Scholar in 2006-2007. Teaching in Action is funded by AfricAid, a non-profit organization that promotes girls' education in Tanzania.

This year, two CEHD Ph.D. students--Brent Ruter and Matthew Thomas--accompanied Vavrus and helped to facilitate the program. They were joined by associate professor Lesley Bartlett of Teachers College, Columbia University and Bethany Hinsh, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Vavrus also received support from the University of Minnesota to explore further collaboration between the University and Mwenge University. She was the recipient of a CEHD grant for international engagement and a summer travel grant from the Office of International Programs.

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