SUNY Oswego’s vigorous partnership with educators in Benin continued this summer as a faculty team under the leadership of Professor Alfred Frederick delivered seminars in the West African nation and a group from Benin traveled to Oswego for additional training.
The six faculty members constituted the second team of U.S. subject-matter experts to spend several weeks in Benin delivering training to school inspectors and teacher trainees. The first team went in the summer of 2006.
This year’s team included four Oswego professors — Patricia Clark of the English and creative writing department and Bonita Hampton, Harrison Yang and Frederick of the curriculum and instruction department — as well as Geneva Gay of the University of Washington and Cynthia Ewers of the University of New Mexico and formerly of Oswego’s curriculum and instruction department. Frederick described Gay as a well-known educator and founder of the multicultural education movement.
They conducted seminars and workshops in Benin in such areas as culturally responsive teaching, curriculum development, health science for educators, educational technology, English composition, and learning disabilities and special needs.
Among the more than 200 teacher trainees, school inspectors and inspectors in training at Benin’s Ecole Normale Superieure and Institut National de la Jeunesse, de l’Education Physique et du Sport where the seminars and workshops were held, “the level of motivation was like I’ve never seen before,” Frederick said.
He and Hampton accompanied 13 school inspectors from Benin to Oswego, where they participated in Project SMART, the college’s 21-year-old professional development program for schoolteachers. They stayed in Moreland Hall on campus and joined the nearly 50 teachers from Central New York and New York City in activities, said Marcia Burrell, co-director of Project SMART.
Among the activities were visiting area schools, a Head Start program and Oswego County BOCES. Vocational training is of growing importance in Benin, said Benoit Ahle, one of the group from Benin, which also included Evelyne Sossouhounto-Kaneho, former minister of primary and secondary education in that country. “There is so much we can learn from the BOCES experience,” Ahle said.
This summer’s collaboration between SUNY Oswego and Benin was part of Project CLIMB (Collaborative Link for Instructor Mentoring in Benin), which evolved out of research conducted by Frederick as a Fulbright Lecturer and Fulbright Visiting Specialist in Benin.
“Dr. Frederick started all this,” said Ahle, commending Frederick for his work. “We like this partnership — everyone in Benin wants it to go on forever.”