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September 1995 - Issue No. #20 (p.20)

Language Learning with a Difference in Kenya

by Agalo Jerry (Moi University, Kenya)

I am delighted to inform other readers of the Global Issues Newsletter that the English Department in the School of Social, Cultural and Development Studies of Moi University, Kenya has embarked on the teaching of language for Peace Education. It is the first time in the history of university education in Kenya that such an extra-curricular programme has been mounted in tightly scheduled university academic programmes.

While most of our students in this programme are English and Literature students, the programme has attracted students from other Social Sciences - Geography, French, Swahili, History, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology. Most of these students take English as an optional course.

At the beginning of this year, our first programme was tried in a class of 117 Bachelor of Education students taking English in their third year at university. It all started well, although those students who felt not enthusiastic dropped along the way. However, more students from other departments joined the programme with the idea of learning something in peace education. Presently, the programme is taking root and interest seems to be mounting among students. We now have 48 students, mostly in their 3rd and final years. Final year students are getting more attracted to the issues contained in the programme than others.

Interestingly enough, we now have some final year students applying for funds to enable them to do the Masters Degree Course in peace education at the University of London, England. This is a sign of the success of our efforts. We hope to strengthen our commitment to peace education programmes and extend our approach to Kenyan high schools.

I have included aspects of peace education in the course I am teaching - English Prosody - to raise students' awareness of conflict in African societies. We have taken the situation in Kenya as a mirror on which traditional diversity is dissected to expose the differing traditional practices and how these are expressed in poems, narratives, political discourses, intonational contours and paralinguistic gestures.

Some of the factors extracted from prosody courses have proved to be of significant contribution to peace education. We are also keenly observing student interest in how the teaching of English can be used creatively for the purpose of peace education in a multilingual setting such as in Kenya where more than 40 languages are spoken. I hope to inform the readers of more developments in future.

Agalo Jerry, Dept. of English, Moi Univeristy, PO Box 3900, Eldoret, KENYA Fax: 0321-43047


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