Dr. Wawire’s Longstanding Collaboration With LSI Continues With Her Role As Research Faculty

June 13, 2024

By Larissa Martins, LSI Communications Assistant

Brenda Wawire’s journey with the Learning Systems Institute (LSI) began during her time as a Ph.D. student at Florida State University when she enrolled in a class co-taught by LSI Associate Director for Research and faculty member Dr. Stephanie Zuilkowski. The course, titled Literacy in International Settings, marked the beginning of Wawire’s longstanding collaboration with LSI where she is now research faculty.

Dr. Wawire’s commitment to developing curriculum and instruction for second language education stems from her own personal experiences growing up in Kenya. Her research aims to support and strengthen literacy skills among children learning to read across multiple languages. She envisions creating structured interventions that support these children in reaching their full potential by developing their biliteracy and bilingualism.

“I became interested in these fields because of my own learning experiences as a multilingual speaker, as a learner coming from a multilingual context,” stated Dr. Wawire. “My interest was sparked by some of the systemic challenges that I kept witnessing in the education system in Kenya.”

Education has always been a central theme in Dr. Wawire’s life. Being raised by parents who were both educators, she understood early on that education is a powerful tool for escaping poverty and achieving empowerment. This belief has led her to seek opportunities for improving educational outcomes for learners in low-income contexts.

Currently, Dr. Wawire is involved in the USAID Strengthening Teacher Education and Practice (STEP) Activity in Malawi. The aim of the STEP Activity is to strengthen pre-service teacher education programs on early grade reading instruction and teaching practice activities of all teacher training programs and provide pathways for continuous professional development for teachers.

Using data from the STEP baseline Survey Assessment she is leading a manuscript that examines the  level of content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and self-belief across the literacy constructs among teacher educators in Malawi."Dr. Wawire and Dr. Fesmire posing at a Tunoze Gusoma event in Rwanda."

Dr. Wawire is also playing a role on the USAID Tunoze Gusoma (Schools and Systems) Activity in Rwanda. The activity supports the Ministry of Education in ensuring that the Kinyarwanda literacy environment for all pre-primary and lower primary schools and classrooms is high-quality, inclusive, and utilizes best practices in teaching and learning foundational literacy skills. 

In the future, Dr. Wawire hopes to lead a project that dives into the root causes of persistent poor learning outcomes in low-income contexts. By identifying contributing factors, she plans to collaborate with education stakeholders to create new models that offer mainstream support for learners in need.

“Currently, instruction is just targeting all learners,” Dr. Wawire said. “I hope to work with colleagues at LSI to structure interventions that really help build capacity for teachers to provide instruction while considering individual needs.”

Dr. Wawire is delighted to be a part of a community of educators dedicated to the betterment of our world. She values the strong collaboration between LSI and stakeholders globally and is optimistic about the future in international education development.

“LSI has made a mark here domestically and globally in terms of the support that it has provided countries,” Dr. Wawire stated. “Without that support, many countries may not have had the capacity to do that on their own.”

LSI is at the forefront of developing innovative solutions that bridge theory and practice in education. For over 55 years, LSI has delivered systems that measurably improve the learning and performance of organizations and individuals in Florida and globally. Our experts' advanced research provides state-of-the-art methods and a clear path for implementation. To learn more about LSI, please visit LSI.FSU.edu for information.