Sr. Janet Christine Kiden, MSBVM from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, was the first sister to obtain a Ph.D. through ASEC’s scholarship program. Her dissertation focused on her passion for ministry and community, by researching exactly what was needed to improve education in Africa. She published multiple articles that explored topics such as quality education and training for teachers, enhancing the quality of public secondary schools, leadership development in education and various quality assurance applications.
Through her dissertation research, completed in October of 2021, she found a severe shortage of qualified academic staff, obsolete curriculum were used, unqualified students were being admitted into universities and lecturers were only using the lecture method of teaching rather than more interactive methods. She discovered challenges in the universities’ implementation of an Internal Quality Assurance Policy, including lack of funds, infrequent audits, irregular salaries and a lack of commitment from academic staff.
Along with her discoveries, Sr. Janet provided insights to the universities to better the quality of education. She recommended a review of education programs by university authorities to ensure the relevance of education programs to societal needs. She suggested employment of more qualified lecturers, quipping libraries with updated teaching and learning resources and providing Wi-Fi to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at universities. By reviewing student recruitment and admission policies, improving infrastructure, splitting large classes to reduce size and organizing regular workshops for academic staff to continue their own education, Sr. Janet’s findings are improving the quality of undergraduate education.
Launched as a pilot program in February 2020 due to a lack of doctoral-level degrees held in African countries, Sr. Janet Kiden is the first sister to obtain a Ph.D. through ASEC’s Scholarship Program. The doctoral scholarships provided by ASEC make it more accessible for sisters to obtain a doctorate which creates opportunities for the sisters going forward. Opportunities include disseminating knowledge and contributing to the literature, increasing competencies and leadership capacities in conducting applied research to inform ministries, and increasing capacities to strengthen congregations and more effectively carry out missions.
While obtaining her Ph.D., Sr. Janet was on leave from her career. She plans to return to the Catholic University of South Sudan and utilize her doctoral-level education and successes to improve her work, where 1,500 students are served annually.
In an interview with ASEC in November 2021, Sr. Janet discussed her experience in the Scholarship Program. She stated she will use the program planning and teaching skills upon returning to the Catholic University of South Sudan. She also believes her skills and knowledge obtained through ASEC will benefit her congregation as well.
When asked what the most valuable part of her participation in the Scholarship Program was, she replied that she enjoyed being accompanied along during her education. For example, her preliminary courses helped her feel prepared.
Sr. Janet’s dedication to serving others in her community is commendable. Her education and success will be crucial in improving her work and her students’ education.