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International Research and Development Outreach


John Burton, Patricia Kelly, and Mary Alice Barksdale

South Sudan Higher Education Initiative for Equity and Leadership Development; 2013 - 2015, (1.2 million - Higher Education in Development/USAID.

Patricia Kelly, Kerry Redican, and Josiah Tlou

“Global Health Professional Exchange between Malawi and Zambia and the U.S. 2010 – 2012; ($440,326 – US Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Malawi and Zambia share many things in common.  They have a common border, and they once were one country under the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.  The people near their borders share cultural norms and language.   During the colonial period under the British rule, the development strategies were very similar, with the exception of the development of industry: in Zambia, the colonial power emphasized mining while in Malawi farming was the mainstay.  Both countries have similar challenges regarding development issues. The majority of their people live in rural areas. Both countries face high levels of poverty with more than sixty percent of the population living on less than $2 per day (World Vision, 2009). In Zambia, for example, one in five children is underweight and 46% of the population is undernourished. In Malawi, nearly 53% of the people live below the poverty threshold, and nearly 75% of secondary school aged children are either working or staying at home to care for their siblings instead of going to school.  The chronic food crisis is a major cause of malnutrition and has increased the risk of diseases.

Virginia Tech partnered with World Vision (Zambia) and Malawi Health Equity Network.  Zambians and Malawians from the health, education, and journalism sectors were selected for two US exchanges. US participants were selected for two exchanges that connect them with counterparts in Zambia and Malawi. The US Exchanges involved seminars, discussions, on-site visits, internships, home stays, and cultural experiences. Each participant developed a project designed to increase the health literacy of women and children in urban and rural settings. Given that at least a portion of the projects were to center on using radio to disseminate information, the messages could reach millions of people. The evaluation is both quantitative and qualitative as we gather data on the impact of the exchanges as well as the outcomes of the projects.

Reports: Phase One, Final

2011 Zambia Projects (more than 138,380 people impacted)

2011 Malawi Projects (approximately 6,800 people impacted)

2012 Zambia Projects (approximately 100,000 people impacted)

2012 Malawi Project (7,500 people received direct benefits)

Josiah Tlou, Patricia Kelly & Jerome Niles

“Transformation of Trial Schools in Malawi into Professional Development Centers,” 1999-2001. ($100,000 – HED/USAID)

The purpose of this grant was to conduct a study of the teaching and learning culture in Malawian primary school settings.  Three primary schools from different cultural regions in Malawi were central to this project (one in the north, one in the central region, and one in the south).  The research team spent over 400 hours observing teachers, with a focus on how teachers teach, how children learn, and the interplay between teaching and learning and culture in these specific contexts.  The researchers worked with the teachers to create booklets on different methodologies used such as direct instruction and small group instruction.  This project culminated with a conference in which the teachers and researchers came together to share their findings about teaching and learning in Malawian primary schools.  The booklet that was produced during this project has become a model for the Malawian Ministry of Education and is now used in professional development and in-service activities in Malawi.

Jennifer Sughrue & Josiah Tlou

Teaching Educational Research for Teacher Training Colleges in Malawi,” 2000-2002. ($100,000.00 – HED/USAID)

The goal of this grant was to provide Malawian teacher trainers with skills for establishing research questions, designing research projects, collecting and analyzing data, and coming to conclusions about school-based problems and questions.  Jennifer taught an introductory course in educational research methods for instructors from the Teacher Training Colleges (TTC), the Malawi Institute of Education, and Domasi College of Education.  Two cohorts of twelve students (24 total) were taught the course during successive summers.  The courses were taught in three-week intensive sessions, after which the students designed and conducted research projects in educational settings in Malawi.  The courses focused on principles of qualitative and quantitative research and analysis of school-based data.

Josiah Tlou and Patricia Kelly

“Teacher to Teacher Exchange: An Enrichment Project for the Teaching Profession,”  ($66,000 - Fulbright Hayes Grant)

The goal of this grant is to connect local elementary teachers in Virginia with primary teachers and primary school classrooms in Malawi.  This summer, fourteen local teachers will travel to Malawi and their study of Malawian classrooms and culture will be centered at the Malawi Institute of Education.  These teachers will visit classrooms in different sections of Malawi, making observations and talking to teachers about their work with primary students in Malawi.

Patricia Kelly, Josiah Tlou, and David Hicks

Citizen Exchange between the United States and Kenya,” ($239,000 –US Department of State)

Kenya is a young democracy, having attained its political independence from Britain in 1963 but keeping a one-party dictatorship until 1992 when it legalized other political parties. However, not until 2002 was a president elected from an opposition party. Elected on a platform of zero tolerance for corruption, the party has yet to institute approaches for transparency and accountability by top government officials. It is within this context that we began to develop and foster a dialogue on the theme, “Responsible Governance,” between Kenya and the United States through a Citizen’s Exchange.  The multi-layered, four-phase project has provided educators, community leaders, and government professionals the opportunity to live and work in each other’s environments. The two broad objectives were (1) that Kenyan participants would gain an understanding of the rights and responsibilities inherent in a democratic society and (2) that Kenyan and U.S. participants would understand the cultural context in which responsible governance is defined and practiced in both countries.

Virginia Tech has partnered with Kenyatta University in Nairobi and the Center for Civic Education in California to provide a series of seminars in Kenya that examine the practices, policies, and processes that encourage or discourage transparency and accountability in governance. In addition, ten Kenyan participants came to the United States to learn first-hand the governance at national and local levels as well as engaging with U.S. citizens with internships in agencies and schools, living with host families, learning the importance of volunteers in the work of community agencies, and taking part in several cultural events. These ten Kenyans became trainers and also implemented small projects upon their return. The outputs of the Exchange directly impacted over 500 people.



University Partners for Institutional Capacity Building in Education – (UPIC), 2001-2006 - USAID


Primary Education at Domasi College

Jerome Niles, Patricia Kelly, & Josiah Tlou ($2,789,912)

The UPIC Project is a teacher education grant sponsored by USAID that involves the Malawi Institute of Education, Domasi College of Education, and Virginia Tech.  The primary goal of this project is to establish a capacity for provision of pre-service primary teacher education through the establishment of a four-year Bachelor of Education (B.Ed. Primary) degree.  In order to fulfill this goal, the project seeks to: (1) establish at Domasi College the permanent capacity to provide an appropriate undergraduate degree program in Primary Education, (2) up-grade and improve the pre-service primary education at Domasi College in a four-year professional Bachelor of Education degree program in primary education specialization to train and teach training college lecturers, and (3) establish institutional networking with the system of Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs).

As part of the project, six Malawians came to Virginia Tech as doctoral students in primary teacher education: one in English Education, one in Literacy Education, one in Math Education, one in Science Education, one in Social Studies Education, and one in Instructional Technology. Twenty-four candidates finished Virginia Tech degrees in an in-country master’s program taught by Virginia Tech professors in Malawi. Virginia Tech professors who taught in the program were Josiah Tlou, Jerome Niles, Patricia Kelly, Mary Alice Barksdale, George Glasson, Peter Doolittle, Jeff Frykholm (formerly of Virginia Tech). Some of these graduates formed the core of the Primary Education Department at Domasi College of Education that developed the B.Ed. program in primary education specialization.

A number of additional outreach activities resulted from this project. An in-depth description of the project and outcomes is presented in the Final Report.

ICET Project at Mzuzu University (UPIC)

John Burton, Barbara Lockee, & Mike David Moore ($1,495,7000)

Virginia Tech and Mzuzu University are nearing the end of the third year of a five-year project funded by USAID to train a cohort of instructional technologists who will form the core of an in-country cadre with the capacity to deliver workshops, courses, and programs at a distance. Drawing upon the expertise of its newly trained instructional technologists, Mzuzu University will be uniquely situated to deliver training not only to students enrolled in its IT programs, but also to academic staff members at Chancellor College, Domasi College, and the Institute of Education (MIE) who need these skills to be in a position to develop and deliver online instruction.

Five members of the Mzuzu University academic staff have been awarded Virginia Tech master’s degrees, and one additional staff member is in the dissertation phase of work toward a Virginia Tech Ph.D. These students will work on redesign, design, and delivery of courseware in Malawi for the two remaining project years.

Virginia Tech has a fully developed online instructional technology master’s degree program (ITMA). With redesign by the new Mzuzu IT staff to make the program culturally relevant, ITMA is to become the basis for an IT certificate program at Mzuzu University.  In the mid-range time band, course delivery is to be online from servers at Virginia Tech and long term from Mzuzu University when such technical capacity becomes feasible in Malawi.  Until such time, course redesign is underway to make it possible to deliver the program in the short term from Mzuzu using print materials with academic staff members traveling to those locations where students can assemble.