Spotlight: Judith Okoth, Lecturer, Department of Food Science and Technology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

Date: 7 December 2017

Related Project: Partnerships to strengthen university food and nutrition sciences training and research in Eastern and Southern Africa

Judith Okoth is forty seven years old and lives in Nairobi. She is a lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in the Department of Food Science and Technology, teaching research methodology, food processing and preservation as well as maternal and child nutrition among other Food Science and Nutrition  courses.  Furthermore, she conducts research and supervises both undergraduate and post graduate research projects as well as proposal writing to attract research grants.

The Project and its relevance
This is a collaborative project undertaken by the Food Science Departments of Makerere University, JKUAT and Stellenbosch University with Makerere University as the lead partner.
The aim is to strengthen postgraduate food science and nutrition programs and thus produce more competent graduates that can meet the market demands for well trained professionals.

By sharing expertise and experiences among the three universities it is foreseen that the following actions would be achieved: (I) Review of curricula (ii) short term training of academic and technical staff (iii) collaborative teaching by staff from the three universities (iv) installation of virtual teaching systems (iv) joint publications (v) improved stakeholder engagement

The project is very relevant to Kenya because it improves the quality and the relevance of the university education in the department of Food Science and Technology since it builds on the capacity of lecturers and facilitated the review of curriculum with the input of stakeholders.  It also facilitated collaboration of staff within the consortium. This was achieved through joint publication of papers and staff being able to teach in one of the three universities other than their own. JKUAT was therefore able to benefit by having lecturers with enhanced skills which implies that the students will have a better quality education. In addition during the training some books were acquired which can be shared by members of the department.
 

How did you become involved?
As an academic staff of the Food Science and Technology department, l received teaching materials and participated in joint publications with colleagues from Makerere and Stellenbosch universities. I also participated in curriculum review and the PASUFONS-KIFTS workshop. I attended the ADA Summer School at Stellenbosch University for the Comparative research design and comparative methods course.  Apart from what l learnt I received teaching materials and in addition l attended the ANH Academy week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was taught the use of Optifood, mixed methods in process and impact evaluation and options for achieving optimal diets in resource limiting settings among other topics. This is useful for my research. I also wrote a chapter (Traditional African Foods and

Their Potential to Contribute to Health and Nutrition: Traditional African Foods) in a book entitled, "Exploring the Nutrition and Health Benefits of Functional Foods",  in collaboration with authors from Makerere  and Stellenbosch  universities in Uganda and South Africa respectively. Further I benefited from presentations that we received from Stellenbosch University through satellite.  I also participated in all the curriculum review forums. Further l attended the PASUFONS-KIFTS workshops and registered to become a member after  networking and listening to research outputs.    

What are your expectations from the results?

My expectation was that our capacity as personnel would be enhanced and our teaching facilities would be improved. The project improved our technical and professional capacity, our networks and collaboration. We also acquired some teaching materials.

Have you identified any impact to date?
I have acquired new and improved old skills.  I have a new perspective towards research. I now teach research methodology that l never used to teach. Besides which l have new networks that I can jointly work with on research projects.  
My students and the university benefit from my new and improved skills. The university also benefits from the fact that l teach one more unit for which we used to get outside personnel to teach.

As a result of entrepreneurs and other stakeholders being involved in the curriculum review,  our curriculum has also been improved to meet the needs of the students, industry and other potential employers.

 

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