A team of three staff members and four post-graduate students from the School of Education recently attended and presented at the International Summer School and Staff Workshop at Bremen University in Germany.
The initiative was hosted under the theme “Diversity and Inclusion in Teacher Education,” and staff members from the Department of Applied Educational Sciences in the School of Education collaborated with academic staff members from other universities to co-present on common themes of interest.
According to the Head of Department for Applied Education Sciences at the University of Namibia (UNAM) and one of the presenters at the workshop, Dr Enock Simasiku, the workshop was a necessity for both lecturers and students as it adds value, specialized knowledge, and intercultural approaches to teaching.
Staff workshop presentations
Dr Simasiku explained that the workshop was an interactive exercise whereby colleagues from various universities pre-paired on common themes of interest before the workshop took place. The collaborating pairs then worked on sharing research findings of studies they conducted in line with the theme of the workshop.
“This arrangement was very instrumental in expanding the staff’s horizon in various areas of research and it also exposed them to parallel and diverse findings of research areas across countries,” said Simasiku.
The three staff from UNAM presented the following research papers during breakaway parallel sessions:
Encouraging reflexivity in teacher education: Dr Enock Simasiku (UNAM) and Prof Yasemin Karakasoglu (Bremen University).
Addressing cultural differences – the example of indigenous and migrated groups: Dr Cynthy Haihambo (UNAM) and Katya Ferguson (University of Minnesota).
Inclusive diagnostics between individualized support and special need labels: Eva Kleinlein (University of Bielefeld, Germany), Dr Emilia Mbongo (UNAM), and Prof Thomas Schrei (University College of Education in Vienna).
Four graduate students pursuing programmes in the field of inclusive education at UNAM had interactive sessions with fellow international graduate students from the other universities and also attended parallel sessions for presentations of their choice.
One of the students, Helena Jasper, explained the experience as educative and informative. “We shared our different teaching experiences with students from other universities which was an eye opener on how our country still has a long way to go in terms of classroom inclusivity.”
Jasper explained how they visited a primary school in Bremen City of which a class consists of 19 students, 2 class teachers, 2 special education teachers and one psychologist. “Each class had a separate room where learners with severe learning difficulties go to in order to receive extra support which, I think, is different from our Namibian schools. This, however, is a model that we can strive towards to ensure we are providing inclusive education and are catering to the needs of every student”, said Jasper.
Future plans for collaboration
This workshop was part of a fruitful MoU between UNAM, through the Department of Applied Educational Science (DAES), and Bremen University (German), Department of Inclusiv Pedagogik with funding from DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).
DAAD has further committed to continue funding for the next international collaboration project “International Teacher Training mainstreaming diversity and inclusion” which is expected to run from 2023 to 2025. The project seeks to address the internationalization of teacher training curricula on diversity and inclusion.