BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 4, 2012 – Josiah Tlou, professor emeritus of education at Virginia Tech, has been named Distinguished Global Scholar of the year by the National Council for the Social Studies. The award was presented at the annual conference of the International Assembly.
Tlou, co-principal investigator on several U.S. Agency for International Development grants, started at Virginia Tech in 1978 and, as professor emeritus, continues to specialize in education in Southern Africa. A native of Zimbabwe who speaks several languages, Tlou is an internationally respected educator with a reputation for getting things done. He planted seeds for intercontinental partnerships when he worked to develop a social studies curriculum in Malawi from 1996-98. At that time, he also advised Malawi’s newfound government on civic curriculum for primary grades to include the principles and beliefs of democracy.
Since then, Tlou has embarked on a series of teaching-and-learning collaborations for the School of Education that have extended into Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa. Results for the almost $5 million in grants that Tlou has triggered can be measured in various ways. Many host-country respondents have described examples of new teaching methods they have learned. These include active learning, critical thinking, participatory and interactive teaching-learning techniques, increased use of the Internet, and community service learning.
Other capacity-building impacts range from establishing a digital library server with 10 million volumes at Domasi College in Malawi, hand-washing systems placed at schools, implementation of organic-farming techniques, tree plantings, and even a small business center in Kenya. Tlou was most recently involved with a global health initiative with Zambia and Malawi.
While active on both sides of the Atlantic, Tlou maintains ties to his home country, where he recently completed a five-month consultancy for UNICEF to develop the Road Map of the Curriculum Review Process for the Zimbabwe education system. He is also working with the New Partnership in Africa's Development which is overseeing the placement of optic fiber cables which will eventually connect 600,000 schools on the continent of Africa.
Through Tlou’s service to the International Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies, the organization established connections to the Mwanje Primary School in Malawi. The Adopt-A-School Project has provided backpacks to school children for several years. Tlou’s colleague, Patricia Kelly, delivers the backpacks with her students during an annual education abroad trip.
Tlou earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Urbana, his master’s from Illinois State University, and his bachelor’s degree from Luther College. He also holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Luther College (2003).
The 2012-13 edition of Spheres, the magazine of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is online.