URI faculty, students to raise money for teaching instruction in East Africa

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Event to be held Nov. 8 at Courthouse Center for the Arts, West Kingston

KINGSTON, R.I. — Oct. 22, 2013 — A local nonprofit group is trying to improve the schools in East Africa, and now members are reaching out to the South County community for help.

The Africa Teacher Foundation will hold a fundraiser Friday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Courthouse Center for the Arts, 3481 Kingstown Road, West Kingston. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

Bill Molloy, founder of the nonprofit and an adjunct education lecturer at the University of Rhode Island, says he expects a big crowd of URI professors and students who support his organization’s work.

“The faculty and staff from URI who have worked on the celebration of learning and teaching in East Africa through art, music, and film for the last six months are very excited about the evening,” says Molloy. “The event will give a snapshot of the work the Africa Teacher Foundation is doing. Faculty and student support are very important to the foundation. We think it will be a great evening.”

A documentary, “Kujifunza: The Work of the Africa Teacher Foundation,” will be shown at the event. The film chronicles a month Molloy and his volunteers spent in Kenya advising teachers how to teach reading, math and writing.

Molloy started the organization after a trip to a Nairobi slum eight years ago. He visited a grade school, where children could barely do their ABCs or count past 10. Some students were suffering from end stage HIV/AIDS and living and dying in their classrooms.

Over the years, Molloy’s nonprofit has trained 1,000 Kenyan and East African teachers to teach the basics. Molloy, of Portsmouth, says he has reached 40,000 students through these teachers.

The volunteers for the nonprofit are retired teachers, including those who graduated from URI’s School of Education and are currently faculty members in the department. The group pays for the teachers’ flights and living expenses, but the teachers, who visit in the summer, work as volunteers.

Theresa Deeney, associate professor of education at URI, says she plans to attend the fundraiser to show the importance of supporting better schools worldwide. She traveled with the nonprofit to Kenya last summer to provide teacher training in literacy.

“We have so much in this country,” says Deeney. “It’s crucial to give back to countries that are struggling with their schools. A good education should be available to everyone. I’m honored to be a part of the foundation and its great work.”

For more information about the nonprofit or the film, visit http://www.africateacherfoundation.org or email Molloy at wmolloy48@cox.net. Refreshments will be served at the Nov. 8 fundraiser, and Kenyan crafts will be for sale.

Anne Seitsinger, associate dean of the Department of Human Science and Services, is another supporter of Molloy’s work: “As education expert Diane Ravitch reminded us at the URI Honor’s Colloquium, John Dewey said, ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.’ The work of the Africa Teacher Foundation broadens our view of community and enhances our democratic values of great schools for all children.”

“Bill Molloy has spent his life improving the lives of Rhode Island students by improving their teachers,” says Kat Quina, associate dean of URI’s Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education and a professor of psychology and women’s studies. “Now he is making a difference in the lives of thousands of children through the Africa Teacher Foundation. We at the URI Providence campus are pleased to be able to help make this extraordinary training program possible again this year.”

Pictured above: Teachers and participants involved in the nonprofit group, The Africa Teacher Foundation, which helps train teachers in Kenya. Bill Molloy, the group’s founder, is at the bottom, second from right.