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Ferris professor lends expertise in Iran

BIG RAPIDS – Thirty years after first traveling to Iran, Dr. Katherine (Kitty) Manley, a professor in the College of Education and Human Services at Ferris State University, returned to Tehran as part of a four-person team of international experts eager to lend a helping hand.

The trip’s mission for Manley and her teammates as part of the multi-faceted, two-week mission was to review the existing Iranian vocational-technical education delivery system against appropriate international benchmarks. Additionally, the mission included assisting the government in the development of the principles and methods of an outcome-oriented standard-setting and assessment framework. Manley was familiar with Iran having lived in the country during the 1970s for four years. The trip was a fact-finding, planning mission funded by the World Bank with potential for possibly a larger project to implement the team’s recommendations.

Manley, who was selected for the trip largely due to her extensive background in career and technical education in the United States, along with her familiarity with Iran, was excited to return to Iran after 30 years and see the changes in the country.

“It was one of the most professionally stimulating experiences I’ve had as I discussed strategies with the incredible team of international experts,” Manley said. “The plan the team presented to Iran is exciting and could help reduce Iran’s high youth unemployment rate and decrease the technology gaps in their existing delivery system.”

During the trip, Manley’s team reviewed existing Iranian vocational education systems for setting up occupational standards, developing training curriculum, and administering testing and certificates against relevant international benchmarks. Special attention was given to issues of employer involvement, responsibility for curriculum development, modularization and learning methods. The group visited many Iranian technical schools, met with many employer groups and spent time researching educational delivery options from other developing countries.

A report that offered the Iranian vocational educators options to improve the delivery system was presented by the team. Currently, Iranian educators are reviewing the team’s report to select the most appropriate strategies from the list of options. Once Iranian educators select their options, then Manley and her teammates will develop a step-by-step procedures manual for Iranian educators to use as they begin to implement the selected strategies.

Manley plans to make a second trip to Iran in May to train the educators in the selected procedures.