Back to His Roots: Professor Geo-JaJa to Build Education in Nigeria

McKay School professor is one of 17 scholars chosen to go to Africa with the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship.

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McKay School of Education Professor MacLeans A. Geo-JaJa is getting a chance to bring his work back home. He is returning to his native Nigeria to assist the University of Port Harcourt to incorporate human rights and community respect into a new form of education.

Geo-JaJa is one of 17 individuals to receive the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship, which allows scholars who were born in Africa to partner with African universities for a wide range of academic projects. He expressed how honored he felt to receive the esteemed fellowship and the support of Dean Prater of the McKay School of Education.

“I’m very excited because it’s a very prestigious fellowship,” said Geo-JaJa. The host university’s project and the scholar’s professional achievement and passion for his subject matter must be approved by the organization granting the fellowship.

Geo-JaJa has a BS in economics from Moorhead State University, an MS in development economics from Indiana State University, and a PhD in development economics and education economics from the University of Utah. His research has centered on alleviating education poverty, developing human capability, and bringing human rights into education.

“I’ve developed the transition from 'rights to education' to what I call 'rights in education,'” he said. “It is not only the quantity of education that makes a difference in sustainable development or poverty alleviation. That which matters most is the quality of education.”

MacLeans A. Geo-Jaja

During his time in Nigeria, Geo-JaJa will work on creating new curriculum in the economics of education and integrating it into the educational process. He will also continue his research on ethics of humanity in development.

“The tenure of this fellowship will make it possible to enlarge the understanding that development can never be externally created or imposed on people—that development is only made possible by people in their own society,” Geo-JaJa said.

Geo-JaJa looks forward to contributing to his native country as he revisits his own academic roots. “I think I’ll make significant contributions to retool and rethink the perspectives of my old colleagues and also to infuse new ideas into curriculum development—particularly in economics of education and international development of education,” he said.

With this fellowship, Geo-JaJa’s goal is to champion a model of education and development that will assert the universality of human rights and provide the tools that guarantee equitable and inclusive access to benefits through continued system restructuring while developing community interests.

“My core driver is to share the important role of integrating basic inalienable human factors and ethics of humanity into a framework that is indispensable for development with security,” Geo-JaJa said.

Writer: Kirsten Clancy

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922