East Africa – School of Nursing and Midwifery

Countries in East Africa suffer from a drastic shortage of healthcare providers, especially in the rural regions. For example, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda currently have desperately few nurses and midwives to serve their populations. In many communities in developing countries, nurses do what doctors would do if they were available: treat wounds and illnesses, prescribe medications, set bones, bandage sprains, and deliver babies. But there are far too few nurses available to serve these countries’ populations.

Aga Khan University (AKU) School of Nursing and Midwifery was created to upgrade the qualifications of working nurses from the designation Enrolled Nurse to that of Registered Nurse and from Registered Nurse to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing level. The skills taught in these university programs are desperately needed to meet the health needs of the region.

Enhancing the Student Experience – Nursing and Midwifery

In 2012, AWB undertook a project to enhance the quality of nursing education at the AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa, through a faculty-development program that promotes student engagement in the learning process.

The volunteers assisted faculty members in several ways:

  • Increasing their use of student-centred education, discipline, and evaluation mechanisms
  • Lesson planning, in-class observation, and co-teaching
  • Launching a comprehensive faculty-development plan
  • Developing a new curriculum, research planning and design, and student feedback and faculty-evaluation mechanisms

Thanks to the success of the first phase of this project, AKU asked the volunteers, Marilyn Chapman and Pammla Petrucka, to return, extending the project to the summer of 2015.

Upgrading Faculty Research Skills – Nursing and Midwifery

Marilyn Chapman returned to AKU in Nairobi for two subsequent working visits in 2013 and 2014, focusing primarily on helping faculty members use learner-centred and interactive teaching strategies. The project also involved overseeing the development of the curriculum for an innovative, inter-professional undergraduate program – a collaborative project between the nursing and medical nursing studies programs. Marilyn also continued her work with AKU faculty in helping them write articles based on research projects undertaken in 2012.

Pammla Petrucka also continued her role as a faculty mentor, focusing on expanding the research capacity of AKU faculty members. In November 2013, she made a working visit to AKU in Dar es Salaam, and in May 2014 she returned to work on each of AKU’s three East African campuses. In addition to continuing her work mentoring faculty members, she worked with the faculty’s senior leadership on the faculty development plan and the expansion of the nursing program.

Date: 2012-2018


  • Pammla Petrucka, Associate Professor, the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Marilyn Chapman,, Retired Professor, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, British Columbia
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Indonesia – Creating Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

In many countries, especially in the developing world, the disabled are neglected and often hidden away, because of the shame connected to disability. It is difficult for them to play a useful role in their societies. Moreover, many of them end up at the bottom of the social pyramid, poor and neglected.

AWB sent Marion Steff, who had just received her Ph.D. from McGill in Educational Psychology, to Indonesia for a year to work at the Centre for Disability Studies and Services at the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga, in Yogyakarta, the only centre for disabled students at an Indonesian university.

The university is part of a system of Muslim universities in Indonesia. It attracts mostly poorer students from rural areas, where people tend to be more religious. These universities are very influential in Indonesia and the work in the Centre has the potential to make an impact, not only at the university at which Marion worked, but also throughout Indonesia.

Marion, with the very important support of the rector, the students, and the staff of the university, worked to make the Centre more useful for the visually impaired students enrolled at the university. She also raised awareness among the students and faculty, who will inform the public outside the institution of the problems facing the disabled, and more importantly, what they can contribute to the society.

Jarot Wayudi, the Director of Human Resource Management, at UIN Sunan Kalijaga said,
“The expert chosen by AWB was excellent. Marion…worked very hard for the centre…inspiring the students to develop the centre and to create linkages with other institutions. She is also good in negotiating and communicating with UIN leaders…. It had a positive impact on the development of the center and the university. UIN stakeholders became more aware of “difable” issues and more open to prospective difabled students.”

The project was so successful that the Centre’s staff members want to continue the work as AWB volunteers to help other universities in Indonesia set up similar centres.

Date: 2011-2016


  • Marion Steff, Policy Advisor for Social Inclusion, Sightsavers, Melksham, Great Britain
  • Lisa Fisher, consultant on development
  • Earllene Roberts, Disability Resource Centre Coordinator and Diversity Advisor, Student Services and Development, University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, British Columbia

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2009 – Monrovia, Liberia

Providing institutional strategic planning advice to the president of the university.

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2010 – Cape Coast, Ghana

Completing a needs assessment on the potential for development and delivery of a transitional doctoral program in Computer Science and Information Technology.

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2010 – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Worked with the staff of the newly established Centre for Disabilities Studies and Service to develop programs for students with visual impairments.

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2010 – Concepción, Chile

Assisting in setting up support services for disabled students.

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2010 – Monrovia, Liberia

Providing an integrated IT plan tying together the disparate components of IT with a program for reliable maintenance.

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2010-2011 – Kigali, Rwanda

Reorganizing and enabling the registrar’s office to efficiently provide administrative services (recruitment, admissions, & management of student records).

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2011 – Windhoek‎, Namibia

Helping establish academic support programs for students; giving seminars for faculty on collaborative teaching and learning and the peer review process.

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2011 – Cape Coast, Ghana

Providing instruction to faculty to upgrade their ability to offer the first PhD program in Computer Science in Ghana.

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