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Driving Innovation

IDI’s research agenda draws on the strengths of Humber College’s polytechnic identity. It leverages Humber’s world-class Centers of Innovation and the creativity of faculty, staff and students from multiple disciplines. It is rooted to Humber’s vision for a campus environment that drives innovation, connects communities and prioritizes people, both at home and in the Global South, to create and share knowledge that brings global communities together.

To produce and support collaborative research that bridges theory and practice and generates knowledge that contributes to positive change in the Global South. Our mission is rooted in the following values:

  • Ethical conduct of research
  • Respect for local knowledge
  • Participation of our partners
  • Dissemination of knowledge to promote change

Research Projects

Embedding Gender Equality in RPL

Gender Strategy for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in Kenya

The Young Africa Works in Kenya-TVET-02 Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) project aims to support the development of a gender-responsive National RPL framework in Kenya, which is used to identify, assess and certify a person’s knowledge and skills acquired in informal settings, such as work or life experience.

RPL policies are critical as women with inequitable access to education and training systems lack a voice in policymaking. To ensure the new system would be inclusive to women, the Humber and Kenyan team consulted a diverse selection of stakeholders, from public agencies to women in the community, and used qualitative research methods to create an innovative, evidence-based gender strategy for new RPL practices.

Two men and a woman working over a solar panel

Impacting Gender Equality and TVET Education (Ongoing)

First Operational Breastfeeding Facility Developed at a TVET Institution in Kenya Under the Kenya Education for Employment Project (KEFEP-02)

Kenyan national polytechnics have made great efforts to recognize inequalities and create gender initiatives that create safe institutions for women to pursue TVET education. As part of the KEFEP-02 project, polytechnics such as Sigalagala NP set up gender committees to continuously advocate and improve accessibility and safety for female students, including the opening of the first breastfeeding facility at a Kenyan National Polytechnic.

When Sigalagala NP opened its doors after national lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, many female trainees returned to the institution pregnant or having recently given birth. Many had little or no support and had to bring their young infants to the institution, hoping a fellow student could watch them during their class. The lack of a reliable care system forced many women to miss classes, risking dropout and losing out on learning. To support women, their children, and their education, SNP and Humber College created the breastfeeding facility for female students to care for and breastfeed their children between class, leave them with a dedicated caregiver when needed, and build a supportive community with other female students facing the same challenges.

The number of students using the facility increased from 18 to 43 after sixteen months of operation. Many users have noted that the facility has helped them to continue with their training because they otherwise would not have a safe space to leave their babies while attending classes. They have also reported that the location is beneficial because it allows trainees to visit their child throughout the day, reducing travel time if they were at an off-campus daycare. Trainees have also said that the facility has enabled their children to interact with other children while allowing caregivers to socialize with other caregivers and created a stress-free environment for trainees to complete their TVET education.

“In my case, I would have struggled. Before I knew there was a breastfeeding facility at school, I did not attend classes because I was at home taking care of my child. Now, I can attend my classes comfortably because I leave the child at the facility and go to the class, and I can check on her anytime.” – female trainee and breastfeeding facility user

“… my community, being a female TVET student is empowering. When someone sees me [a woman] in a TVET institution, I can inspire someone who is younger than me. It can inspire other women like me.” – female trainee and breastfeeding facility user.

Large group of people in front of daycare centre

Clearing Waterways in Kisumu

First combined water hyacinth harvester under the Kenya Education for Employment Project (KEFEP-02)

Under the KEFEP-02, faculty at the international partner institution, The Kisumu National Polytechnic (TKNP) in Kenya, received support to complete the first combined hyacinth harvester in Kenya, which will clear waterways from the invasive water hyacinth weed in Lake Victoria.

Water hyacinth is an invasive aquatic plant found worldwide. It rapidly reproduces and blocks sunlight from reaching oxygen levels in water systems. The invasive species affect water ecosystems, slow down water flow, obstruct irrigation canals, delay hydroelectric and water treatment plants, and interfere with recreational activities such as fishing.

Innovator Samson Obuya at TKNP spent 21 years planning and designing the water hyacinth combine harvester. Obuya made the harvester a class project for students to use their skills in a hands-on environment through welding, fabrication, wiring, chemical testing, plumbing, automation and painting.

With funding from the KEFEP-02 project and support from Humber’s Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology, the water hyacinth combine harvester will harvest the weed, clear the waterways, clean the water, and open the water for transportation and the fishing industry. It will also turn the hyacinth weed into crops to produce animal feed, manure, and weeds for biogas and mulching.

Image of a boat in a river surrounded by grass

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Kakamega

Intelligent Solar PV-Powered Drip Irrigation System for Improved Agricultural Productivity in Shinyalu Sub-County

Partner institution Sigalagala National Polytechnic (SNP) combined solar pumping with drip irrigation to address the agricultural gap farmers face. Farmers produce 70% of the worlds’ food needs, yet many farmers live in rural areas without basic agricultural tools and training. Through the Kenya Education for Employment Program (KEFEP-02), SNP formed a relationship with One Acre Fund, a multinational group of agricultural experts whose activities are located in the western region of Kenya.

Population increases, unpredictable climate patterns and the need to secure food for the population require special efforts to guide the agricultural sector towards environmentally sustainable consumption of water, selection of technology, use of chemicals or fertilizer and safe waste management of farms. One Acre Fund will provide Sigalagala National Polytechnic with training and experience to address the lack of basic agricultural tools and training, while SNP supplies irrigation through the Solar PV-Powered Drip Irrigation System. Using solar pumps and micro-drip, the system will maximize the amount of land that can be irrigated and use optimum water storage and delivery systems. It will also use optimum fertilizer delivery rates and serve numerous families with a single pump and irrigation system.

Research Papers

Conference Paper, 2023

Schroeder, R. and Schroeder, K. (2023). Where is the coastline? Interdependence and scale. Paper presented at the 2023 FECUN Conference: Reimagining Interdependence, 14-15 April, 2023.

Journal Article, 2022

Bray-Collins, E., Andrade, N and Wanjiru, C. (2022). Gender and TVET in Africa: A review of the literature on gender issues in Africa’s TVET sector. Futures of Education, Culture and Nature - Learning to Become Volume 1(2022), 151-171.

Book Chapter, 2019

Schroeder, R. and Schroeder, K. (2019). Declarations of interdependence: Unexpected human-animal conflict and Bhutanese non-linear policy. In R. Boschman and M. Trono (eds.), On Active Grounds: Agency and Time in the Environmental Humanities (pp. 287-304). Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press.

Occasional Paper, 2018

Schroeder, K., et al. (2018). Bridging the Gender Gap: Entrepreneurship education and equitable economic development in Indonesia. Toronto, ON: International Development Institute Occasional Paper, Humber College.

Schroeder, K. (2018). Re-thinking entrepreneurship through the lens of culture: Implications for sustainable entrepreneurship education in Bhutan. Paper presented at the Seventh International Conference on Gross National Happiness in Thimphu, Bhutan.

Gross National Happiness seventh International Conference

Re-thinking Entrepreneurship through the Lens of Culture: Snapshots from Indonesia and Bhutan and their Implications for Sustainability by Kent Schroeder.

Discussion Paper, 2017

Schroeder, K. (2017). SEDS Lessons Learned Discussion Paper: The Influence of Applied Entrepreneurship Curriculum on Student Businesses: Lessons from Indonesia. Toronto, ON: Humber College.