Selkirk College is joining a consortium of Canadian post-secondary institutions on a project that aims to develop leading edge curriculum with industry-relevant outcomes in an effort to create a more vibrant economy in Kenya.
Funded by the federal government’s Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Colleges & Institutes Canada, Selkirk College is partnering with Humber College (Toronto) as the lead, Vancouver Island University (Nanaimo) and Durham College (Oshawa) to work together on one aspect of the Kenya Education for Employment Program. It’s part of a three-year initiative that will strengthen post-secondary opportunities for youth and provide industry-ready education in the East African nation.
Selkirk College Dean Pat Bidart will be traveling to Kenya in mid-June as part of a four college consortium funded by Global Affairs Canada that aims to enhance educational opportunities for youth that are focused on building the African nation’s infrastructure and economy.
“Canada is seen as a leader in these types of projects, but most importantly we are seen as a relationship-builder,” says Pat Bidart, the Dean who is leading Selkirk College participation in the consortium. “We don’t go into these countries and tell them what they need to do, Canadian post-secondary leaders work really good as partners. We learn from them and they learn from us. I think our partners are very appreciate for this approach.”
Selkirk College Responsible for Curriculum and Capacity Building
The four colleges each have specific areas of expertise they bring to the $1.67 million project that includes three Kenyan schools—Kisumu National Polytechnic, Kisii National Polytechnic and Sigalagala National Polytechnic. Humber College will focus on the Mechanical Engineering Program, Vancouver Island University will bring knowledge from its Building Technology Program, Durham College will assist in establishing a vibrant research and innovation centre to help develop infrastructure expansion, and Selkirk College will be responsible for curriculum and capacity building through Competency Based Education & Training.
With the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa, Kenya has put a priority on post-secondary education in recent years to help continue the progress.
Selkirk College is currently involved in a major college-wide project to update and revise all program curricula with a focus on learning outcomes. Through the Selkirk College Teaching & Learning Institute, faculty who will be involved in the Kenyan project are trained in applied teaching strategies, skills-based curriculum development, online learning and innovative instructional strategies. By working through lessons learned in its own project, Selkirk College faculty and staff will be able to further advance the project being undertaken in Kenya.
Selkirk College’s track record with Competency Based Education & Training includes the Post-Graduate Diploma in Resort & Hotel Management Program and the Post-Graduate Diploma in Culinary Management Program which were recently created based on the most current job growth data. Selkirk College reports back to industry partners to determine whether graduate competencies are aligning with the workplace realities of employers.
“Development projects like this are a great way for the college’s faculty to get global experience,” says Bidart. “We have the expertise and we need opportunities for international education. This project will show that Selkirk College is interested in working on more international partnerships in the future.”
A Lead With a Wealth of Experince
With a passport full of international education projects on her resume, Bidart arrived to the region in the summer of 2016 to take on one of four Dean positions at Selkirk College. The veteran educator is currently the Dean of the School of Industry & Trades Training, School of Hospitality & Tourism, School of the Arts, and the Teaching & Learning Institute. With a post-secondary career that stretches more than 30 years, Bidart arrived to Selkirk College having worked on projects in China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Belize, Jamaica, Suriname and Dominican Republic.
“What makes me passionate about the work is that you get to be involved with people that live there on a day-to-day basis and you learn about their culture,” says Bidart, who first waded into international education in 1999. “When you do a project like this, you get immersed in the culture and that is the best way to find success.”
Bidart will be traveling to Kenya in mid-June to get started on the first phase which includes an inception plan developed by subject matter experts from all four Canadian colleges. The plan will look at current programs to see what needs to be developed, set key learning objectives and do a labour market study to assess needs. The project will then proceed until the new market-driven curriculum is designed and tested.