75 years  

Education for Developing Countries 1973-1985

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Dr Janusz Tomiak : lecturer in Comparative Education in the Institute of Education 1966 – 1988, including time in DICE from 1985-1988.

Janusz considered particularly the cooperation between the Institute of Education and some of the Universities in Africa during his time in the Institute, including DICE.

"Close educational links and effective academic cooperation between the different Institute Departments and a number of higher education establishments in the countries of the Commonwealth have for many years, indeed, decades been an important feature of the Institute’s international role. They included a variety of forms of involvement.

A good example of it constituted regular visits by the members of Departments of Education in the Developing Countries and of Comparative Education, as well as other Departments to universities and teacher training establishments in Africa, particularly Nigeria and Kenya.

I myself was fortunate enough to take part in the professional courses for the upgrading of teacher qualifications in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and Kenyatta University College, Nairobi, Kenya in the summer months in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Together with other colleagues from the Institute, such as Elwyn Thomas and Roy Gardner from the EDC, Margaret Roberts from the Child Development Department and Michael Underwood from the Science Teaching Methods Department I participated in intensive summer courses for practising teachers in Ahmadu Bello University in 1977, 1978 and 1979. The exact character of our courses was decided upon by negotiations between Professor Reg Honeybone and the Director of the Institute of Education in Ahmadu Bello.

I myself conducted a series of lectures / seminars in the Foundations of Education, that is discussing the important philosophical, social and economic aspects of education and their practical implications. My earlier involvement in the PGCE lectures / seminars in the Institute in these fields as well as the teaching of Comparative Education at the levels of the Academic Diploma in Education and the MA were all very relevant and useful. However, I was very aware of the fact that I had to make a special effort to relate my task to the teachers’ work in the developing countries, particularly, by taking into account the social and economic features of education in the West and East African countries. I therefore decided to make a much fuller use of the works of education thinkers and analysts specialising in the problems of the Third World and the developing countries. As a particularly important consideration I took it upon myself to develop a proper appreciation of the ethnic, linguistic, religious and economic peculiarities of these areas to give a more relevant and meaningful content to my lecturers and the seminar discussions which followed. Our work culminated in setting questions for the final written examination and marking the exam papers. All in all it certainly was a time- consuming process. Yet, the useful character of these courses seemed to me beyond doubt. 

I myself benefited considerably from my own participation in the process in that I came to a much better understanding of the work of the teachers in African primary and secondary schools and could properly appreciate the problems difficulties of teaching and learning in a cultural and natural environment which was very different from the one prevailing in Europe or in the USA, where I was also privileged to teach Comparative Education in Kent State University, Ohio. My lectures and seminars in Comparative and International Education in the following years in our London Institute and my subsequent contributions to educational journals and international conferences and congresses could also be enriched in an appreciable way. Looking back now, more than two decades later, I can see the enormous value of that part of my professional experience."

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Compiled and edited by Clare Bentall and Angela Little. First issued Spring 2005.