Welcome to the 2019-2020 academic year
It is my pleasure to welcome everyone here for a great academic year 2019-2020. It is at the same time an honor for me to become a part of the MIUC family and community in the current capacity of a Principal. Let me first of all confess that I have not had individual encounters or interactions with each one of you but I believe we are reading the same page. Our belief is that MIUC is a unique, amazing and special place for personal growth and for improvement.
From the Vision and Mission of MIUC, our Main or Core Business is:
- Quality Education,
- Life Skills Training and
- Research Skills.
For which Purpose? To train Agents for
- Change / Transformation & Innovation,
- Sustainable Development in the society.
So as to put you on the same page, hereby follow some important Updates:
- End of August 2019: series of meetings with different bodies of MIUC (HoDs)
- General Staff meeting (Staff room): 28th August 2019
- On 2nd September 2019, we started with registration
- Academic Council meeting: 5th September 2019
- On 9th September 2019, Lecturers began
- Medical check-ups: 9th September 2019
- Academic Board meeting: 10th September 2019
- CUEA convocation day: 12th September 2019
- Management Board Meeting: 17th September 2019
- CUEA Senate on 18th September 2019.
- Academic mass on 19th September 2019
- Registration deadline: 27th September 2019
- Graduation on 25th October 2019
Point One: MIUC answering to the needs of Quality Education today!
I am sure you have heard about Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) in Kenya. CBC developers have identified Kenyan context similar to many other developing countries in which it is believed that: “We are living in a complex, competitive, knowledge-based, information-age, technology- driven economy and society (cf. Education Reform in: https://www.edglossary.org/21st-century- skills/).”
The MIUC staff, teaching and non-teaching staff, are all excited to having students with energy and enthusiasm for learning. A Cognitive Psychologist and Constructivist, Robert J. Stahl (1983, 1992, 1995), called students “active infobits or information or infoschemata Constructors.” In this case, they are more “learners” than “students.” The latin word, “studere” changed into “Studiare” whereby we see the concept “stadium” or “studio” that would literarily mean striving to i.e. “read or learn.” Our mission as MIUC Lecturers, rather as “infobits or infoschemata or information Facilitators or Coaches” is to facilitate you or to mentoring you in the whole process of Learning and Teaching. You, in turn, as “information Constructors,” you are called to take an important role in the whole process, not only reading. Everything here is organized for you! You are to be the first beneficiaries of our endeavours and plans.
For your information i.e., I have requested the MIUC teaching staff the following:
- To prepare a Course Outline (s) of the Teaching Unit (s) they are teaching that provide (s):
- Key concepts / Core concepts / Key Takeaways of the Unit (s) for deep knowledge & understanding!
- Context (s) whereby they may apply.
- To identify the Personal and Social Skills of the Unit (s) they are teaching and teach them:
- Personal Life skills and Social skills
- Context (s) in which they can be app
- To point out to specific Values-based strategies, Behaviors & Attitudes that needed for personal growth and teach them:
- ABCs of life (real life): Attitudes, Behaviors and Characters needed in our society today
- People who have managed / are managing and lived / are living the ABCs to a higher degree.
Point Two: 21st Century Skills or Cross-disciplinary Skills at MIUC!
As I speak of the 21st Century Skills, some of you may be asking: What is that? What is (it) for? Why such a move?
We are in the 21st century, not in the 19th or 20th century whereby Textbooks were the primary source and whereby the teacher was to evaluate and assess. Schools and especially, Higher Learning Institutions today, are populated today by “infobits constructors” with multiple sources, mostly visual and electronic sources. They were born in the 1990s and 2000s and they prefer to have a Lecturer who frames, guides, facilitates the Learning process. This is what is called “Millennial Generation or Nexters,” not “Generation X (1960s – 1980s).” They are also called “Gen Y” and “Net Generation.” This generation is normally made of people who grew up with lots of praise and attention from their parents. They have high expectations of themselves and of their employers, they expect to change society or the institution from Day one. They are technically literate (almost experts in IT & Social Media), they seem to be Team-oriented and apparently social! However, because of the new challenges like the fragmentation and disengagement great diseases of this 21st century, they are disoriented. They are good at multi-tasking. They expect working structures in the workplace and they want relationships with their bosses. Millenial and Nexters (2000s) want “Feedback whenever they want … at the push of a button.” This is an idealist approach to life! This is dreaming in the day light!
According to the findings, Millenial and Nexters (2000s), they are characterized by:
- Extremely Confident
- High Expectations
- Social (interactions)
- Value Diversity
- Thrive or prosper on Challenge & Growth
- Technologically updated
- Want “Instant Feedback” (cf. David Adams Stephen’s College).
In terms of the Teaching process and the Learning process, the 21st century learners or “infobits constructors” need to be taught different skills and this calls for placing a greater emphasis on what is called “Cross-disciplinary Skills or Transversal Competencies.” In other words, learners want less of “Content-Based Instruction” (subject-area knowledge and instruction) and more of “Skill-Related Instruction.”
However, if this is the case, from the perspective of an educationist like me (2010), this debate “Content” vs. “Skill” is somehow a wrong discussion! What would be a “Content-Based Instruction (Learning Content)” that does not provide “Related Skills” and Competencies for real life or what would be a “Skill-Related Instruction” that does not rhythm or flow with or from a “Content-Based Instruction”? This sounds like “the Chicken and Egg” dilemma: Which came first?
An inventory of these Cross-disciplinary Skills or Transversal Competencies has been made by several Schools and Stakeholders. We hear now some talking about the 12 abilities, other about the 10 skills, others divide them into three categories: i) Learning skills; ii) Literacy skills; and iii) Personal Life skills. Others define what the call ‘The Big 13 skills’ which are: Team Work, Risk Management, Negotiating and Influencing, Effective Communication, Creativity and Innovation, Positive Attitude, Initiative, Organisation and Planning Skills, Problem Solving, Leadership, Making Ethical Decisions, Financial Literacy, Product and Service Design (https://www.envisionexperience.com/blog/13-essential-21st-century-skills-for-todays-students).
As we are in a Higher Learning Institution (MIUC), i.e. “Learning How to Learn Skill” is Key. This cognitive and metacognitive skill can be developed by or through what is called ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) of Lev VYGOTSKY (1896 –1934). This psychologist developed a “Socio- Cultural Theory (SCT)” to Cognitive development, and it is also called “Socio-Constructivism Theory” whereby a MKO (More Knowledgeable Other) teaches the struggling learner (novice) to move from the actual level of understanding (ability) to the potential level of understanding (capability). “If there is no sharing, said David Wiley, there is no educating.”
MIUC Teaching staff do believe that you “Active infobits or information or infoschemata Constructors” or Learners are resourceful – so “Teach someone!” The MKO is to provide the “slow learner” with “scaffolding process” to support the student’s evolving understanding of knowledge domains or development of complex skills. This is a step-by-step methodology, what Cognitivists call “Procedural knowledge” or the “know how,” and “Conditional knowledge” that would go with “if … then statements.” MKOs normally use a scaffolding process through social interactions, through stating hypotheses, testing them and verifying their validity and reliability.
This is the best way to becoming a “Reflective Practionner (Donald Shön), reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Experiments have proved true that “infobits constructors” can “learn how to learn” in a reciprocal way (cf. Cooperative Learning). I am a witness to that phenomenon as I applied ZPD when I was once Academic Dean (1999-2001). This is somehow a new pedagogy (using a-didactical situations) similar to what happened during the English Industrial revolution (17th century), whereby there was “Mutual or / and Reciprocal Teaching.” A MKO in Mathematics is not necessarily MKO in Languages, or in Social Sciences, or in Fine Arts, or in Sports, or in Music, …
We believe that a Transformative Learning process like the abovementioned one “Learning How to Learn Skill” is a transformational and transferable skill that a MKO (i.e. a Lecturer) can impart / instill in his / her “active infobits constructors.” It is a transferable skill like any other skills mentioned above (cf. the Big 13 Skills). It uses what Psychologists and educationists call “metacognitive Self-regulation strategies.” This is highly involving and highly formative.
These Cross-disciplinary Skills are better learnt / instilled by or through real-life situations more than by Books or Textbooks! “Mentor – Protegé Relationships (Anderson & Shannon),” Modelling process (cf. A. Bandura & J. Bruner)! Shaping Theory (B.F. Skinner) are proven effective! Beside the Subject Content Competency areas (i.e. Unit Key concepts), these are the very things you need to learn and to apply in real life so as to survive in the 21st century!
These are what the Kenyan society demands from Universities and Institution of Higher Learning. Stakeholders (i.e. Banking system, Telephone companies, Hubs and Malls, Industries, Civil Society, Private Sector, …) are looking for graduands with a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and Character traits in the employees. These are the 21st century Skills that MIUC wants to provide to you. You (learner / active infobits constructor) can acquire them and be fit in the Kenyan and global market and ensure a meaningful career for your life.
Once these Cross-disciplinary Skills or Transversal Competencies will appear in our New Academic Handbook (2019 – 2020), we shall advertise you to these Institutions and ensure that you can be employed! Think also at becoming an employer! This is our dream and, as the known musician John LENNON (1940 – 1980) sung, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” So, it is our dream!
Point 3: MIUC’s readiness & goodwill to embark on a number of Educational Initiatives & Activities that will promote 21st century Skills building!
MIUC administration wants the learners and “active infobits constructors” to use: i.e.
- Group work or Cooperative Learning
- Student-Directed: Debate, Discussions and other Oral interactions
- Audio visual material for learning (i.e. youtube)
- Student-directed inquiry-based learning: i.e. Outdoor classes with observation
- Experiential learning activities
- Mentorships / Coaching / Modelling
- Service Learning or Community Services
- Individual Portfolios-Based Learning and e-Portfolios (individual websites)
- Project-oriented teaching methods or Project – Based Learning and
- Research-Based Learning / Problem – Based Learning (PBL).
Since yesterday, 24th September 2019, I have asked Lecturers to start by ascertaining and determining your skill level (s) vis-à-vis the various skills or competencies each Teaching Unit (s) can have and to set up teaching objectives, rather teaching outcomes and goals for growth and improvement. I wish such skills and / or competencies can be combined with the ABCs of life:
Attitudes, Behaviors and Character traits. In this way, we can form and train agents for change and transformation. Are you aware that this is a long and hazardous project! Are you ready?
Believe me! At MIUC we have great Teachers and Lecturers and we shall encourage them to spend time planning these Learning Outcomes by creating classroom activities (contextualized learnings) that will engage you (students) in learning and researching. I want them to challenge you, particularly in Research-Based best practices and in developing individual e-Portfolios-Based Learning which are like a combination of reflection and self-assessment (Formative Assessment), something like “Coursework Assessment.” You need to evaluate yourself before anybody else evaluates you with end of Semester examinations! This will prove that you are a self-directed and self-motivated learner!
As Kenyan CBC talks about new Learning Areas that are interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, cross- curricular, transversal (vs. longitudinal) and the like, we shall offer you such opportunities for self- development. We believe that these Cross-disciplinary skills are highly cognitive and non- cognitive skills to some extent! Some even speak of “soft skills” and / or applied skills. By the way, all of these terms and terminologies are related and interchangeable! They all mean a set of transferable, practical ‘real life’ skills and qualities that young people need to face the future with confidence. These are the tools MIUC, in aligning itself to CBC here in Kenya (ESDs & GCEds), wants to develop in its new Academic Handbook (2019 – 2020) for your success in today’s world, careers and workplaces. Note that an Appreciative Inquiry mentor, Dr. Peter Drucker, said it all: “The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time.”
Point Four: What are the Research-Based best practices?
I wish I could talk in-depth about Portfolios and Research Based best practices but, due to time, I don’t want to enter into this area. For your information, I have consulted a Team made of Br. Vincent de Paul Kouassi, Br. Peter Awoh, Sr. Dr. Ngozi, Mrs. Githinji, and Mr. Samuel Mbogo to see to that learners / students and staff are involved in Research best practices. Besides the fact that we have a good and voluminous Library (cf. Rachel), inter-library system with CUEA and other Constituent Colleges and a Marist Research Centre within our compound, I wish, every Semester, we conduct one or two days dedicated to “learning how to do research” and to publish. In other words, we wish to plan Workshops every Semester, one at least for Staff, another one for Learners. This will soon appear in the College Calendar!
On one hand, MIUC personnel, all of us actually are committed to providing you with the best educational and the best instructional experiences possible and we wish to prepare you for a global and international society … Just let us know how we can help!
You know it very well, on the other hand, that Lecturers cannot do the work without you. Lecturers shall strive to challenge each learner / student to grow in his / her academic abilities and to become a self-motivated or self-directed learner / student. In your turn then, you are requested to be more engaged in such contextualized learning environments. Do not give time to the Teaching Staff to relax! We are at your service. Your needs are our priority! Your sponsors will be happy to see you becoming “somebody” who can sponsor others.
Some requests to conclude:
- Attending lectures
For your own good, MIUC administration will monitor closely this aspect and apprehend whoever misses classes. If need be we shall make necessary follow-ups with parents and / or guardians. Lecturers are to keep the attendance sheets and be responsible! Students, rather learners and “active infobits constructors” should remember that “Learning is a journey, not a destination.”
- College Involvement and Communication
As I speak of Involvement, I want also to talk about “Communication.” Communication & involvement are extremely important for us. In any institution, you know, Communication is key but, unfortunately, this is the point we fail quite often. ICT personnel and other MIUC Management structures shall look at how to make everyone connected and communicating well.
Take also this challenge with you: find a day per week or an hour per week to volunteer in the MIUC services … your support will make a huge difference. This will be part of your e-Portfolio’s CV. This challenge goes straight to MIUSCO and the Dean of Students. In anticipation, I wish to “Thank you” all for such commitments in helping make MIUC an amazing place for “active infobits constructors” to grow and learn!
- Strengthening the bond of unity and service
Togetherness is a value. And the Gospel says in Mt. 12: 30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” This is a call for / to unity in diversity. Let us remember what John Luther King, jr. said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their characters.” I hope we shall not judge anybody on the basis of his / her nationality, his/her tribe, his / her height or weight, the color of his / her skin, his / her academic performances … but by the content of his / her character. In doing so, we can serve and find happiness in serving others.
Last but not least,
- Dress code:
In the student handbook, it is clearly stated that we are regulated by our own rules. Your right should not undermine anyone else’s right (s). There will be checkings not only from the Main Gate as you enter in the compound, but also in the classrooms. Whoever does not adhere to such regulations will provide an explanation to the Management!
By concluding, I am honored to serve you as the Principal. It is truly a privilege to be a part of this community where the teaching and non-teaching staff and “active infobits constructors” care for each other and strive to build a positive relationship that supports our academic and social growth. I am standing here as one who strives to becoming a Reflective Practitioner (Donald Schön), a Team Builder and Strategist Implementer. There is no need to delay what is achievable today! It is “here and now.”
Let’s be pragmatic, daring and hopeful. Let’s make 2019-2020 a great year! Let us know any way we can serve better your educational needs during this year and the coming academic years. And, please, feel free to contact me.
Br. Dr. Albert NZABONALIBA (fms) MIUC Principal
Tel (WhatsApp): +254 720 947 037