Focus on education


(l-r) Godwin Nnko, Kassim Dadi, Patrick Makokoro and William Pastory at the McPherson Library in March 2018.

Donor support helping to support educators worldwide

Four students from Africa are completing PhDs at UVic with the help of donors and UVic’s Faculty of Education. Godwin Nnko, Kassim Dadi, William Pastory and Patrick Makokoro are receiving support from the Millennium Futures Fund and the Dr. Jean Downie Dey Memorial Award.

Patrick Makokoro
PhD Candidate, Zimbabwe

“Words cannot truly express how grateful I am,” Patrick Makokoro says. “Your support is what enables students like me to build a better future where all children of the world have access to basic education and lifelong learning opportunities.”

Makokoro grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe as the eighth child in a family of 16, “We didn’t have a lot but my father worked hard to get us basic education,” he says. “The rest was up to me.”

Makokoro first earned a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s, taking time off to work in between semesters to help his brother pay for school. It was while working in an orphanage that he discovered his true passion.

“I saw first-hand how many kids had no one to advocate for their education or provide them basic learning tools,” Makokoro explains.

Makokoro founded a non-profit, called Nhaka Foundation, to make early education more accessible to orphaned or vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. Since its founding in 2007, the program has established early childhood programs in 10 of Zimbabwe’s provinces. “I am so proud of the work Nhaka has done—but there is still so much work to do,” Makokoro says.

And that’s where UVic comes in. Makokoro completed his graduate diploma through the School of Child and Youth Care remotely in 2016 and stayed in contact with his professor, Alan Pence. It was through their friendship he learned of the opportunity to complete his PhD.

“Studying at UVic is giving me an opportunity to learn how different models for early education have benefitted Canada,” Makokoro says, “The goal is to share what I have learned with Zimbabwe and other developing countries to help influence policies on education.”
Patrick Makokoro is a PhD student at the University of Victoria. From Zimbabwe, Patrick received donor funding to help him pursue his doctoral work in creating better access to education in Africa. Listen as he talks to Megan Lowry about what inspires him.

Godwin Nnko, Kassim Dadi and William Pastory
PhD Candidates, Tanzania

“Education has the power to change everything,” Godwin Nnko explains. “You are not just supporting one person—but a community, country and world.”

Nnko, and his colleagues Kassim Dadi and William Pastory, are all working toward their PhDs at UVic thanks to a partnership with Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)—a constituent college of the University of Dar es Salaam—and support from donor funding. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are very humbled by this opportunity,” says Nnko, whose PhD research interest is emergent literacy in early childhood education.

While at UVic, they are hoping to research ways to influence the education system in Tanzania to increase the accessibility of quality education at all levels.

One of the challenges teachers face in Tanzania is breaking down the barriers between teachers and students. “It is not uncommon to see a big class size at a university,” Nnko explains, “When you have such a context, it is hard to personalize your curriculum to each student.”

Dadi, who has been teaching at the university level for several years alongside Nnko and Pastory, and whose PhD research interest focuses on issues of student voice in the secondary school curriculum, says many African countries including Tanzania struggle to empower students to advocate for their own education.

“Many schools operate on a top-down mentality where teachers direct and students follow,” Dadi explains. “We cannot truly provide a system that works for each student if they are not free to express needs and opinions in matters that affect their learning and learning environment.”

Together Dadi, Nnko and Pastory hope their research can not only address the needs of the educational system in Tanzania, but also better prepare future teachers to create a learning environment that supports all students. “As teachers, we have to learn to that a student’s social experience and mental health are connected to how they learn,” says Pastory.

The partnership between DUCE and donor support through the Dr. Jean Downie Dey Student Mobility Award is also allowing several UVic education students to complete an exchange in Dar es Salaam. “The sharing of ideas through this partnership is exciting for us,” says Pastory. “We hope the students who visit Dar es Salaam University College of Education will be as excited to experience our culture as we are to be here.”

Four students sit at UVic and look into the camera
(l-r) Makokoro, Pastory, Nnko and Dadi in the UVic library.


In this story

Keywords: philanthropy, education, international

People: Jean Downie Dey, Godwin Nnko, Kassim Dadi, William Pastory, Patrick Makakoro

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