Mauritius PhD cohort student graduates
Ms Aruna Ankiah Gangadeen, who graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Education, is the first PhD graduate among a group of more than 30 who are part of a programme emanating from a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) and the School of Education.
According to Gangadeen’s UKZN research supervisor, Professor Michael Samuel, the programme supports candidates through a site-based supervision cohort model using supervisors from South Africa and Mauritius.
‘The PhD students are largely staff members of the MIE and are researching areas of innovation and development within teacher education on the island,’ said Samuel.
Asked about her pursuit of the degree, Gangadeen said: ‘I had always planned to do my PhD and when I met Professor Samuel who spoke about his own study - which was on teachers’ lives - I was both intrigued and interested. I was also fascinated by his research methodology, namely life history. All this was new to me and provided the impetus for me to embark on my PhD.’
Gangadeen’s study focuses on the experiences of Early Childhood Education teachers in the formal schooling system.
The specific challenges of addressing a multilingual and multicultural education system are the focus of the study.
The thesis develops a model of teacher professional development drawing together resources of biography, pedagogical practice and experience.
She believes her research findings are significant to teacher educators as they highlight the need to value and draw from teachers’ knowledge.
‘As I say in my study, by acknowledging and considering the teachers’ knowledge of the context and of learners, teacher educators pave their way towards a better understanding of those whose education they seek to enhance.’
She hopes her research will be useful to policy makers to ‘bring out the potential limitations of adopting an “outside-in” model whereby more importance is given to goals established by international agencies at the expense of the local reality, be it in terms of resourcing or learner profiles.’
Gangadeen praised the inspiration she received through interaction with UKZN staff, and the MIE cohort. She visited and spent time working on the Edgewood campus and interacting with UKZN-based PhD staff and supervisors.
Gangadeen a Lecturer of English language teaching and learning at the MIE, holds a BA (Honours) and an MA from the University of Delhi in India, and a MEd TESOL from Leeds University in London.
She plans to do further research. ‘I have just discovered “ethnodrama” and, with a few colleagues, am currently working on a performance that will be staged during a conference in April. I am also involved in curriculum development and another of my passions is the production of textbooks and other curriculum materials.
‘This is something I will be devoting quite a bit of time to in the near future. And, who knows, my post-doctoral studies may be round the corner - but right now my family remains the priority.’- Melissa Mungroo