South Africa/Kenya (CERM-ESA)

10 Master’s Scholarships awarded in Eldoret

The East and South African Centre of Excellence for Research Methodologies and Management (CERM-ESA) awarded 10 scholarships for its new Master’s Programme in Education Research at Moi University, Kenya. Of the 63 applications from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, 21 students were shortlisted for a personal interview on 10-11 February. The selection committee, which consisted of members of all five CERM-ESA partner universities, namely Moi University, NMMU (South Africa), UMI (Uganda), UDSM (Tanzania) and Oldenburg University (Germany), was impressed with all the interviewed candidates, of which only 10 could be selected. The successful candidates were awarded the scholarship on the 13th February 2017 by the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Laban P. Ayiro and DAAD’s Dr. Dorothee Weyler. The VC acknowledged the scholarship holders’ diversity representing various regions within Kenya as well as its neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda. This showed not only that the unique Master’s programme on education research is very attractive beyond Eldoret, but also that the selection procedure went fair and provided an opportunity for all Kenyans to be awarded with a scholarship. The Vice Chancellor in his speech thanked DAAD and wished the students all the best in their studies.


Left to right-scholarship holders (standing): Ann Wanjiku, Ekiru Simon, Mark Sirimbiri, Rose Njage, Ida Jaribu, Roba Godana, Nelson Mandela, David Lagat, Evans Mos

Left to right (seated): Dr Dorothee Weyler (DAAD), Prof. Laban Ayiro (Ag. VC- Moi University), Dr Susan Kurgat (CERM-ESA Coordinator Moi University), Malve von Mollendorff( CERM-ESA Coordinator Oldenburg University)

Note: one scholarship holder, Dorcas Ngenoh, could not be present for the award ceremony

CERM-ESA announces 10 Master Scholarships of Education in Research funded by DAAD

The East and South African-German Centre of Excellence for Educational Research Methodologies and Management (CERM-ESA) has announced 10 Scholarships for a Master of Education in Research.

For application Details see


Narrating my first data generation experience

Sarah Jemutai and Janet Chipchirchir Ronoh are DAAD/CERM-ESA Master’s scholarship holders from Kenya registered at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in South Africa. Here, they narrate what they experienced as they conducted their field work and generated data for the first time as postgraduate research students.  Sarah’s study focuses on ‘the effect of using a six-brick duplo block guided play approach on pre-school learners’ visual perceptual abilities’, while Janet’s is exploring ‘indigenous knowledge in the school curriculum: teacher educator perceptions of place and position’. Both students are conducting their studies in South African and Kenyan schools and have successfully defended their proposals in May 2016.

Sarah’s narrative on introducing her intervention and testing visual perception abilities

I conducted my field work and generated data with five to six year old pre-school children in a middle income primary school in Port Elizabeth using a mixed-methods quasi-experimental pre-post-test design. I began the data generation process by administering a written pre-test on the learners’ visual perceptual abilities where learners had to discriminate between patterns which progressively became more complex. The same test will be used as a post-test after the six-brick Duplo block guided play approach intervention has been completed.

Prior to the testing, the class teacher introduced me and Ms Amina Brey, who had worked with the learners previously, my supervisor, Prof Paul Webb, and five fourth year psychology students who assisted with the pre-testing. We took out the Lego bricks and displayed them to the students, explaining that those were colourful toys which we were going to use for playing. We talked with them gently so that they were not intimidated by our presence. The learners were very disciplined and patiently waited for instructions to be given. The experience was a huge learning curve for me as I had mixed feelings before the pre-testing. I had imagined that the learners might be nervous, but to my great surprise, they were carefree and seemed fascinated by the toys and what they could build with them. Without the support of my supervisors, Prof Paul Webb and Prof David Serem, Ms Amina Brey, the psychology students, as well as the learners and teachers in the participating schools, I would not have progressed as well as I did and I would not have successfully administered the tests.



Janet’s narrative on using an imbizo as a method

I had my first data generation experience at a comprehensive South African university where the study participants were isiXhosa speaking academic staff who were familiar with the story of Nongqawuse and the cattle killing episode of the history of amaXhosa. An adaptation of John Peires’s historical account of the 1856/7 account of the ‘Conundrum of the Xhosa Cattle Killing’, which was written in English and then translated into isiXhosa, was employed as a stimulus to investigate the teacher-educators’ perceptions about indigenous knowledge and the school curriculum. A similar stimulus story indigenous to Kenyan teacher educators will also be used when I conduct data generation in Kenya.

My research employs a descriptive case study research design with questionnaires and a modified focus group workshop called an imbizo to further probe the issue of place and position of indigenous knowledge in the school curriculum. The particular focus on an imbizo as a data generation tool was motivated by the need to develop and utilize research tools and methodologies that are indigenous and reflect the African experience. In the Xhosa culture and other Nguni cultures, an imbizo is a formal gathering or meeting often called by the village chief to discuss pertinent issues in the community and to seek solutions to problems. An imbizo was deemed appropriate in this study and more fitting than the conventional interview or focus group discussion often used in scientific research because of the imbizo’s orientation towards seeking a local and authentic experience of a particular historic-cultural experience. The Kenyan equivalent of an imbizo is known as baraza and will be employed among the Kenyan participants.

The participants were invited to participate in the imbizo via email and face-to-face to allow for the personal African approach in building relations between the primary investigator and the respondents. I also visited the participants in their individual offices and introduced myself, said where I came from, why I was undertaking such a study, and told them why their contribution would be important in the study. I was anxious and nervous about whether they would attend the imbizo as it was the end of the semester and the lecturers were very busy with administration of exams but, to my surprise, I had 100% attendance!

During the imbizo, a traditional meal of umngqusho (samp and beans), vegetables and mutton stew was served to the participants to welcome them and make them ‘feel at home’. The participants and I were seated on a circle and the imbizo protocol with topics of discussion was distributed. Some of these topics of discussion included investigating:

  • the isiXhosa Indigenous Knowledge (IK) that the participants know about and whether they feel that they should be included in the school curriculum
  • asking what and how much IK should be included in the curriculum – how does one choose (i.e. what constitutes school knowledge in South Africa (how is it chosen)
  • asking how should the chosen IK be integrated with the existing content in the curriculum (or should it not be integrated but be a separate subject)?
  • asking the group how one might define and validate knowledge for the official curriculum in the face of multiculturalism, globalisation and the internationalisation of knowledge – what are the principles to be used.

I am pleased that this first data generation process via the imbizo approach was such a success. I also had the privilege of meeting the historian and author Professor Jeff Peires in Grahamstown from whom I learnt more about his writings on Nongqawuse. I am also thankful that I attended the Autumn School programme on research methodologies early in the semester as it prepared me for the proposal defence and the data generation experience.


Excitement as academics are introduced to Photovoice and Drama in Educational Research in Eldoret, Kenya



As part of the CERM-ESA Staff Development Programme, two workshops on innovative methodologies for conducting educational and social science research took place at Moi University lately.

Drama in Education

Last Friday, Prof Logan Athiemoolam from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) introduced staff members of Moi University’s Faculty of Education to using drama-in-education techniques not only in teaching university students but also, for research purposes. The participants were amazed at how tableaus and frozen images could provoke stimulating discussions and reflections that enabled the development of new teaching and management strategies. After a number of exercises and practical assignments, the participants were convinced that using drama in education was an effective and innovative technique to employ in Action Research designs in school and school management projects. For instance, one of the participants said: “We benefitted a lot from the workshop and we will not forget the ‘tableaus’ as a method of data generation.” The facilitator also added that drama in education is not only effective for action research purposes but that it can promote a humanising pedagogy and makes learning fun.

Participatory Visual Methodologies

In May already, Prof Naydene de Lange of NMMU facilitated the first part of a workshop on Participatory Visual Methodologies: Photovoice.

The fifteen participants who enrolled for the Saturday 28 May workshop were introduced to Visual Participatory Methodologies and the idea of research simultaneously enabling both knowledge production and social change. The origins of photovoice were highlighted and examples of how photovoice has been used in various contexts in Africa to bring about social change.  The participants – working in three groups – tried out photovoice and were asked to “Take photographs of challenges and solutions to addressing HIV”. The photographs were printed and used to create poster-narratives which opened up interesting discussions. There was great excitement in taking the photographs and working with them.  One participant commented on the possibilities it opens up for real dialogue about crucial and sensitive issues. Another said that the photovoice process enabled her to talk about condoms to a male colleague without being embarrassed. Another participant commented on how all the participants worked together in their groups, shared their ideas, and how it seemed to act as an equalizer.

Prof Rose Ruto-Korir, Director of the Institute for Open Learning, said, “It was exciting to co-host the photovoice session and we are already thinking about how to engage with this emerging opportunity”. She continued, “I posted a piece on my fb page and people are asking me photo-what? I love the experience of exposing others to it!” The participants are looking forward to the second part of the photovoice workshop that will take place on the coming Saturday, 10 September.

Autumn School on Educational Research Methodologies

Autumn School on Educational Research Methodologies
in African Contexts
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, April 2016
Port Elizabeth, April 2016 – The East and South African-German Centre for Educational Research Methodologies and Management (CERM-ESA) staged the first intensive learning phase for its Master’s and PhD scholarship holders and for associated students who work on CERM-ESA related topics. 25 postgraduate students from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa engaged themselves with research paradigms and theoretical frameworks, qualitative and quantitative methodologies and immersed deeply into issues of ethics, participatory and mixed-method approaches in educational settings. Not only the students benefited from the courses and discussions: 15 members of the CERM-ESA Faculty – staff members of Moi University School of Education, NMMU, Oldenburg University, Uganda Management Institute and University of Dar es Salaam – who are supervisors of the CERM-ESA scholarship holders, actively participated in the courses. Reflecting on the two weeks at NMMU, one Moi University supervisor said: “The inputs and discussions helped us to better assist and supervise our students and we learned a lot about new and creative methodologies that we have never applied before.”
For the eight Kenyan scholarship holders on Master’s level, the Autumn School was only the start: they are enrolled in the Master’s in Education / Research programme at NMMU and are staying for 3 months in Port Elizabeth to work with their supervisors. Various courses are offered to them during this period, for instance an intensive course on internationally comparative educational research methodologies. “This is an excellent opportunity for us to engage with research and not only learn about it, but apply it in our own projects. We are working very hard and our dream is to come to Germany next year to present our findings at a research conference” Ezekiel Chemwor says, who is one of the Kenyan students in Port Elizabeth.

East and South African German Centre for Educational Research Methodologies and Managment (CERMESA)

As one of the newer centres (since 2014), the East and South African German Centre for Educational Research Methodologies and Management (CERMESA) aims to satisfy the need for excellence in educational research, training and management in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme includes a Master´s, a PhD programme, as well as an exchange programme for lecturers and students. There is a partnership with the University of Oldenburg.

Read more about the centre here: