Dr. Macrina Lelei

Contact Information:
Office: 4137 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
E-mail: macrina@pitt.edu
Phone: 412-648-2058
Professional Biography
Contact Information:
Office: 4137 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
E-mail: macrina@pitt.edu
Phone: 412-648-2058
Dr. Lelei is an educationist, administrator and researcher. She trained as a teacher in her undergraduate education at Kenyatta University and taught English as a Second Language and African Literature & Society in secondary schools in Kenya before pursuing graduate education in the United Kingdom (University of Leeds), and in the United States (University of Pittsburgh). She is currently the Acting Director of the African Studies program, University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. The African Studies program promotes the interdisciplinary study of Africa through teaching, research and outreach—bringing together students and scholars from across the disciplines and professions and community members to study and share knowledge about Africa on topics that span the historical and cultural experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. Dr. Lelei holds an appointment as adjunct Assistant Professor of Education, where she teaches courses on Education in the Department of Administration and Policy Studies. In addition, she is the Faculty Director for the summer study abroad panther program “Pitt in Tanzania”, which she established in 2009 and has been running since then with more than 70 students participating. The Pitt in Tanzania program comprises three course components: Swahili language instruction and immersion, introduction to East African culture and society, and health issues in East Africa. The courses are team taught by faculty from Pitt and the University of Dar es Salaam complemented with guest lectures by local experts on selected topical issues and field trips and excursions to places of historical and cultural significance.  The program is designed to provide ample opportunities for classroom instruction, experiential learning and cross-cultural exchanges and immersion. We highly encourage our students to seek opportunities for study abroad, internship, or other forms of experiential learning in an African country. 
Education and Professional Work Experience:
Dr. Lelei earned her doctoral degree (PhD) in 2002 from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, with a concentration in International and Development Education. She received her primary and secondary education in Kenya as well as her undergraduate education from Kenyatta University (KU) where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Upon graduation from KU, she taught at Kapenguria Boys High school (1987 -1988), and at Pemwai Girls’ High School (1988 – 1989). In 1990, she was awarded a British Council Technical Assistance Scholarship to pursue advanced training in “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” (TESOL) at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. After completing the program at the University of Leeds she returned home to Kenya where she obtained a teaching position in the Department of Communication and Technology (COMTECH) at Maseno University. In 1994 she was awarded a World Bank Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Upon completing her master’s degree, she returned home to Kenya where she worked for the British Council in Kenya (1996–1997) as outreach program coordinator for a rural education development program in Western Kenya. Her responsibilities included working in close partnership with the rural community schools to provide teaching and learning resources to provide quality education and improve education outcomes for disadvantaged students from poor homes. She was also responsible for organizing in-service training for teachers during school holiday breaks as part of teacher professional development. These in-service or professional development programs were very relevant particularly in a vast changing environment and in situations where not all the teachers in the schools are trained. Dr. Lelei was alos responsible for ensuring provision of mobile library services for the benefit of rural schools and communities. Resources are a big part of improving learning and it is important that rural communities have access to library resources. Although Dr. Lelei was passionate about what she was doing promoting the quality of education in rural areas, she had to leave her job with the British Council to return to the United States to pursue her doctoral degree in Education at the University of Pittsburgh where she was awarded a Graduate Student Assistantship scholarship. She completed the program and graduated in 2002. The research topic for her dissertation was focused on the role of communities at the grassroots in providing access to education for their children. Although she did not return to continue her professional pursuits in her home country, she is still actively involved in promoting educational opportunities for disadvataged members of the community. Since 2002, Dr. Lelei has worked at the University of Pittsburgh as an educator, researcher and administrator.
Research Interests:
Her research focuses on education improvement in developing countries with specific interests on issues of educational equity, access and opportunity; gender equality; community participation; and education reform. Her interests stem from her passion for education, and predominantly the education of girls and women. Being the first person in her family to graduate from University she clearly acknowledges her experience in formal education as having been invaluable in her life and strongly believes that education is very important both for one’s personal and professional growth, and is key to success in life and in the empowerment of an individual and community. Countries should invest more in sustainable strategies that will transform education systems to make them more accessible to marginalized populations, and relevant to development needs of the society. Most African countries in particular, need to invest in good quality education that will help in the fight against ignorance, poverty and disease. As Julius Nyerere once said “Education is not a way to escape poverty, but it is a way to fight it along with other ills that plague our society.” There are many practical steps that can be taken to improve education and to reduce inequalities based on gender, and other factors that hinder the potential to reduce poverty and achieve high levels of well-being. These include strengthening opportunities, increasing access, providing more resources for children including access to books, investing in infrastructure, guaranteeing rights, eliminating inequality in employment, increasing women's representation in government and reducing violence against girls and women.
Lelei, Macrina C. Weidman, John C. and Sakue, Katsuki. “Free Primary Education in Kenya: Opportunities and Challenges.” In Comparative International Perspectives on Education and Social Change in Developing Countries and Indigenous Peoples in Developed Countries, edited by Gaetane Jean-Marie (forthcoming, 2015). Information Age Publishing.
Picard, Louis A and Lelei, Macrina C. “Achieving Sustainable Development in Africa: A Governance Perspective.” In Sustainable Development and Human Security in Africa: Governance as the Missing Link, edited by Louis A. Picard, Terry F. Buss, Taylor B. Seybolt and Macrina C. Lelei.  Taylor and Francis Publishers (forthcoming 2015).
Lelei, Macrina C & John C. Weidman. “Education Development in Kenya: Enhancing Access and Quality”, in Quality and Qualities: Tensions in Education Reforms, edited by Clementina Acedo, Don Adams and Simona Popa, 143-162. Sense Publishers, 2012.
Lelei, Macrina C. “Girls’ Education in Kenya: Problems and Prospects in the Global Context.” In African Women and Globalization: Dawn of the 21st Century, edited by Jepkorir Rose Chepyator Thomson, 153-181. Africa World Press Inc, 2005.
Weidman, John C. Chapman, David W. Cohen, Marc, and Lelei, Macrina C. “Access to Education in Five Newly Independent States of Central Asia and Mongolia: A Regional Agenda. In The Challenge of Education in Central Asia, edited by Stephen P. Heyneman and Allan J. DeYoung. Information Age Publishing, 2004.
Lelei, Macrina Chelagat. Expanding the Discourse on Grassroots Provision of Basic Education in Kenya: Listening to the Voices from Emgoin Village. PhD Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. 2002.
Professional Affiliations:
Association of African Studies Programs (AASP)
African Studies Association (ASA)
Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)
International Studies Association (ISA)
Public Service:
Member of the Advisory Board - Union of African Communities of Southwestern Pennsylvania-since January 2012
Member of the Board of Directors – Workforce Development Global Alliance (WDGA) – since January 2013
Chairperson – Kenyan Women in Pittsburgh advancing social development opportunities – since December 2014
Member of the Board of Trustees – Brothers Brother Foundation (BBF) since January 2015