‘How can we do this in a vacuum?’ Stakeholder perspectives in 3 regions in Ghana to the introduction of the ‘Partners in Play’ project

Jane Cullen; Kwame Akyeampong; Joyceline Alla-Mensah, Open University, UK

Changing practice in schools is complex and reflects competing and conflicting pressures on schools  However, project  partnerships often assume an unproblematic relationship between introducing new practices (alongside developing staff for new approaches to teaching), and the establishment of the new practices in the classroom. This paper focuses on the responses of stakeholders to the introduction of the large scale Right to Play  ‘Partners in Play’ (P3) project in Ghana, designed to improve the quality of education for Ghanaian girls and boys aged 4-12 through a scalable and replicable Learning through Play (LtP) model supported by the Government of Ghana. Participants in 3 regional validation workshops explored many of the challenges to implementation. This paper speaks to the disjuncts between attitudes and practices, for example, between teachers’, headteachers and parents’/caregivers’ attitudes to play as a social activity and the extent to which they judge play to be a learning activity.

The paper points forward to the potential for improving take-up and attitudes to new initiatives in terms, for example of alignment with other related previous and current initiatives, of greater orientation to more inclusive and autonomous models of professional learning  such as offered through professional learning communities, and to more fully including  stakeholders such as headteachers, parents/caregivers, and representatives of local and regional communities in the planning and decision-making of new initiatives.

How do Public-Private Partnerships work in conflict settings? A realist evaluation of the Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA) project in Adamawa, Nigeria

Kenechukwu Nwagbo, University of Cambridge

The evidence on the effectiveness of PPPs, especially in conflict-affected settings, is scant, mixed, and inconclusive (Aslam et al., 2017; Crawfurd & Hares, 2021; Patrinos et al., 2009). This limited evidence base is dominated by experimental research designs, where “partnership” is treated like a ‘black box' with the assumption that collaboration had occurred as intended. Consequently, it is unclear how “partnership” actually occurs between public and private actors, especially in societies marked by weakened government capacity as seen in conflict-affected settings; and moreso, how this variable contributes to the mixed results observed around the world.

The failure to scrutinise the power-relations in PPPs is a critical oversight as there is no universal definition for this term, leading to diverse partnership models and results. Nevertheless, very little attention has been given to how the conceptualisation and distribution of power between traditional stakeholders and their new private counterparts affects the outcomes of PPPs operating in a traditional government monopoly such as education.

My research addresses this gap by conducting a realist evaluation of a nominally successful PPP implemented in conflict-affected north-eastern Nigeria. Using an exploratory research design comprising literature reviews, document analyses and key informant interviews, I apply the context-mechanism-outcome tool of realist evaluation to elicit the ‘theory of partnership’: identifying how stakeholders worked together, and the internal and external forces that conditioned these results. Finally, I introduce, and then apply, the 3-Ps Framework for the classification of PPPs to identify the type of partnership that occurred based on the articulated programme theory and distribution of power amongst partners.

By conducting a realist evaluation of the TELA programme, this research moves beyond reporting the outcomes of PPPs to uncovering the intricate processes and circumstances that condition these results. Ultimately, the findings of this research offer transferrable lessons on the nature of partnerships that succeed in providing education in fragile, conflict-affected settings.

Towards VET Africa 4.0

Simon McGrath, University of Glasgow; Stephanie Allais, University of the Witwatersrand; Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University; David Monk, George Openjuru, Gulu University; Presha Ramsarup, University of the Witwatersrand; Jo-Anna Russon, Volker Wedekind, University of Nottingham

The current dominant approach to vocational education and training (VET) does not work in theory, policy or practice. Nor is it fit for future purpose. Instead, we need to imagine new VET futures and this paper is an attempt to move this process forward. We locate the question of VET futures specifically in the African context, drawing on a large-scale, multi-partner research project involving case studies of VET in various multi-actor contexts. Stressing the importance of history, we briefly outline three waves of theory and policy on VET in Africa since independence. Then we describe what we consider to be the major features of a new approach, which we term VET Africa 4.0. This includes a multiscalar approach that is grounded in relationality and local social ecosystems for skills incorporating all forms of vocational learning and actors therein. Whilst the economic dimension remains important, we both critique the currently dominant VET toolkit and “skills for employability” focus and stress the need to think about VET that is designed to benefit people and the planet. In so doing,  we combine political economy and political ecology as a foundation for skills system analysis and development. We discuss the implications of an ecosystem approach to VET which foregrounds relationships, networks, and partnerships. We then make some suggestions on how to practically shift towards a relational model that is capable of addressing current and future locally contextualised realities and needs.

Problematising Academic-Agency Partnerships for Pedagogical Development

Michele Schweisfurth, University of Glasgow

In the context of SDG 4 and the quest for quality education, teaching and learning processes are an important focus of attention.  However, research has demonstrated that very different ways of thinking about pedagogy prevail within the academic and policy literature (Schweisfurth, Thomas and Smail 2020).  One logic is that classrooms, schools and education systems are all open and complex systems and that pedagogy is profoundly influenced by cultural traditions, teacher and social beliefs, structural legacies, and political histories.  These are of interest in themselves, and are best understood through qualitative, especially ethnographic methods.  The alternative logic is that teaching methods are amenable to intervention and that understanding ‘what works’ can make them a lever for improvement of learning outcomes and therefore development.  The so-called ‘learning crisis’ and the ‘learning losses’ in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have lent urgency to this quest for answers – especially apparently cost-effective ones that travel across contexts.  These separate and sometimes binary logics manifest in a range of ways, including the research funding agendas of international organisations, and disciplinary and academic journal priorities.  This presentation will explore the implications of this bifurcation for partnerships between academics in the field of comparative and international education and funding agencies concerned with education in the global south.  It will also ask:  how could partnerships be enhanced to integrate the best from both worlds?

Schweisfurth, M; Thomas, M and Smail, A (2020) Revisiting comparative pedagogy: methodologies, themes and research communities since 2000.  Compare, 49

Intergenerational Identity formation and Child welfare ; Plight of Children from the Urdu-Speaking Bangladeshi Community

Dhimoyee Banerjee, Leeds Trinity University

The Partition of India necessitated the migration of Muslims from the provinces of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to erstwhile East Pakistan in large numbers to avoid religious persecution. However, they became the ethnic minorities in their new country. This was not to their immediate disadvantage as they spoke in Urdu, which had been declared the official language of both East and West Pakistan. However, the Urdu-speakers were harassed and persecuted for their opposition to the Bangladeshi liberation. While a select number of Urdu-speakers were able to integrate in Bangladeshi society, most of the community were placed in camps. Using classical definitions of diaspora the Urdu-speaking Bangladeshi community make an interesting case where they satisfy all necessary conditions despite there not having been an event of migration. However, the conditions have limited applicability to children within the community born after 2008, who have been granted Bangladeshi citizenship. Their treatment as migrants by the larger Bangladeshi community and their continued residence in the refugee camps raise questions regarding education, welfare of children and intergenerational identity. Article 17 of the National Constitution of Bangladesh states that all Bangladeshi children are entitled to free education until secondary school. Not only does the children not have very limited access to education within the camps but their scope of education outside is severely restricted as their identity cards state ‘Urdubhasi’ in them. An analysis of existing literature in combination with interviews shows a conscious attempt by the State to otherise these children from their constitutional right to education which thereby has further implications on issues of child welfare. The paper will further examine how education not only acts a fueling factor to the existing divide between the two communities but seeps into questions of rights and welfare of children within the community.

Navigating dilemmas around children’s voice and parental agency in the education of children with disabilities: perspective from Southern contexts

Basirat Razaq-Shuaib, University of Cambridge; Nidhi Singal, University of Cambridge

Globally, the rhetoric for the co-optation of children’s voices and participation in research has been on the increase. These developments can be traced to the ratification of various international treaties and conventions such as the UN (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, despite the importance of children’s voices, the way parental agency draws on children’s voices in decision making concerning their education remains vague. For children with disabilities, this is of greater relevance considering the significant role that parents play in determining their educational journeys.

The right of parents to be consulted and included in the education of their children with disabilities has been established within the Salamanca statement. Furthermore, parental practices which are driven by parents’ aims, values, aspirations, as well as socio-cultural contexts, have been known to positively influence children’s education. While parents of children with disabilities are known to significantly invest time and resources in the education of their children, what remains unclear is how parental decision making is shaped by the voices of these children and how children’s explicit desires inform schooling decisions.

Using a systematic review of the literature, this article critically appraises the various discourses on how parental perspectives and their styles influence the way voices of children with disabilities are heard in Global South contexts in matters relating to their education. The review covers the last 20 years and focuses on children from the age of 6 years to 18 years. The objective is to explore the conflicts and dilemmas around listening to the voices of children with disabilities in family structures within the broader context of the dominant socio-cultural and religious practices.

Partnerships between university and school in teacher education. A comparative analysis of support for the practicum in Germany, France and England

Lindsey Waine, UCL Institute of Education

Teacher education in most European countries has been the subject of intense debate and reform over the past two decades, and the challenges of teacher recruitment and retention are ever-present. Teacher educators and their counterparts in schools are tasked with equipping student teachers with an ever-increasing repertoire of knowledge and skills for today’s diverse and inclusive teaching and learning environment. However, the twenty-first century student teacher is by no means a tabula rasa and many enter teacher education with fixed ideas about teaching. The reality of classroom practice is embodied by the practicum, and effective support for student teachers is key to the development of confidence and competence.

This paper will focus on the practicum from a comparative perspective by evaluating different models of partnership between university and practicum school in Germany, France and England. In particular it will explore the roles of the many actors involved in supporting and assessing student teachers. It will draw on recent empirical research undertaken with student teachers, (by myself and other education researchers), which elicits their views of the practicum, the support they receive, and how the development of professional autonomy is fostered or hindered.
The three countries under review have all witnessed recent reforms to initial teacher education, including the introduction of teaching standards and the extension of the practicum duration. How they organise their partnerships and promote collaborative working between university academics and school-based mentors is of particular interest. It will be shown that student teachers in each country narrate very different practicum experiences that indicate some divergence in their perceptions of the two (or more) institutions involved. A similar divergence is mirrored in the roles of school mentors and university tutors supporting student teachers and how conflicts of interest between them might be resolved.

In and against the State? Reforms in the Youth Service in times of Multiculturalism and ‘youth riots’ in England, 1970s-1980s

Max Schellbach, University of Birmingham

Amid the worldwide struggle of social movements for a racially just society in recent years, a comparative analysis of local anti-racist politics in interaction with state structures is necessary. Despite a growing body of literature responding to this question, a historical analysis of the political cooperation between local actors and the state is still underrepresented.

The topic of the master’s thesis fills this research gap by conducting a historical case study focussing on the political protest of the local minority youth group ‘Asian Youth Movement’ (AYM) in Birmingham in the 1970s and 1980s. The research shows that the AYM was not only critical of racist structures in the fields of work, education, and immigration. They also dismissed the British government’s policy of multiculturalism and its anti-racist funding policies in favour of ethnically distinct groups. To contextualise the attitude of AYM towards the state, my research includes the analysis of local progressive actors of social work and their response to the politicised Asian youth.

In doing so, the results of my thesis are deeply connected to the themes of the conference. In accordance with the main conference topic, my research challenges the normative pursuit of the partnership of independent political youth movements with state structures by illuminating their ambivalent operating from a historical perspective. In line with the sub-theme ‘Experiencing Education Partnerships’, my local analysis indicates that the welfare state approach to multicultural development was not only a technocratic undertaking of financial funding but also characterised by an educative project that was progressive in operation.

The research reveals how the interaction of independent youth movements with welfare structures amid post-Empire modernisation of the UK has implications for how we understand the multicultural ‘pedagogy’ of the state. This provides a critical framework for future comparative and international research of political (youth) movements.

Understanding educational transfer: an analysis of the Japanese influence on China’s vocational education

Yijun Yang, the University of Sydney

Educational policy transfer has become one of the most important themes in contemporary educational research but has not been explored fully in vocational education. China has long been a recipient country of vocational education systems or elements borrowed from developed countries or international organizations. Despite the intense debate among researchers about contemporary vocational education transfer, very little attention has been paid to the transfer of vocational education that existed in China in the late Qing and early Republican periods.
This article examines the process of China’s borrowing Japanese vocational education from 1894 to 1922 from the perspective of educational policy transfer. The Contextual Map of Cross-national Attraction proposed by Rappleye and the Four Stages of Educational Policy Borrowing framework proposed by Phillips and Ochs are employed to help analyze the detailed process of how China borrowed vocational education from Japan.
This study serves as a unique example in educational policy transfer research where historical sources offer the possibility of testing the applicability of the Contextual Map of Cross-national Attraction and the Four Stages of Educational Policy Borrowing framework.
This research relied heavily on published primary sources in the form of government documents, journals, newspapers, diaries, and speeches. In order to critically analyze these sources, four criteria including authenticity, reliability, representative, and meaning are carefully examined.
This study elucidates some of the analytical limitations discovered by this study while applying the Contextual Map of Cross-national Attraction model and the Four Stages of Educational Policy Borrowing framework to this study. It implies that more theory, particularly on the issue of the complex interaction between structure and agency, about the nature of educational policy transfer is needed to comprehensively and sophisticatedly analyze the complex process of educational transfer.

Research partnerships for strengthening learning across language transitions

Angeline Mbogo Barrett, University of Bristol; Rachel Bowden, University of Bristol and TU Dresden

The use of a European language as the language of instruction (LOI) has been the subject of ongoing academic and political for decades. Most education systems in sub-Saharan African now transition from using an African LOI to the use of a European LOI midway through the basic education cycle. This paper draws on a recent literature review (Bowden and Barrett 2022) to propose an agenda for research on language transition.

Multilingual learning and teaching practices are prevalent within mass education systems where there is a transition in LOI midway through the basic education cycle. Policy often prescribes a subtractive approach, where students’ main language is withdrawn from teaching and learning. However, there are also examples of teachers developing additive approaches, that maintain the main language alongside introduction of English. To evaluate different approaches, we consider their potential for developing mastery of the language practices required in postsecondary education and training.

We found a strong consensus in the research literature for additive multilingual education. However, we also found a need for research that addresses the complex planning, practice and resource demands of additive multilingual education. To make a difference, we propose partnerships between researchers, educators and curriculum designers. Priorities we identify include:

Investigation of the role of language in making school subjects relevant and meaningful to diverse learners;
Identification of language practices required for a range of postsecondary education and training; and
joined up planning of language learning across the curriculum based on realistic evaluation of opportunities for language learning.


Bowden, R. and Barrett, A. (2022) Theory, practices and policies for 'late exit' transition in the language of learning and teaching: A literature review. Bristol Working Papers in Education #02/2022. (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/education/research/publications/bristol-working-papers-in-education/)

Private Sector Financing Higher Education in India: Models and Issues

Sangeeta Angom, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, India

Finance occupies an important place in functioning of an institution. However, financing of institutions has multidimensional problems; for while the sources are extremely limited, the needs are disproportionately too many, creating hurdles to fulfil the objectives of an institution, particularly in the context of demands of the developing society and the role that such institutions have play to meet the various needs of the country (Ghosh,1983). One of the important dimensions of distinction between public and private higher education is financing besides ownership. Government support public institutions, therefore they receive a major share of funding, while private institutions seldom receive financial aid from public authorities. Worldwide, there are many models of funding private higher education and in large majority cases; institutions are financed by tuition payments from students (Altbach, 1999). The private universities in India, established through state legislature, are self financing institutions. Tuition fees from the students form the financial backbone of such universities. The total income of private universities is determined, therefore by the number of students and the rate of tuition levied.

In this context, the present paper deals with the role of new and existing private sectors in supporting educational finance by exploring their funding models for higher education. Besides, the paper will try to address some of important questions like -How are the private sectors supporting education in India? Are the private players integrated within the educational systems and at which level do they operate? What mechanisms they used in financing and what challenges they do face? Are there any form of new partnership emerges in financing higher education in India? The paper will be mainly based on empirical study conducted by the author on private universities in India.

Key Words: Financing, Private Players, Higher Education in India

Loan-supported educational reform in Bangladesh: Who supports whom?

Masud Siddiqui, University of Warwick

Abstract: Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign state in 1971. Soon after, various International Financial Organisations (IFO) and transnational agencies came forward in rebuilding the country. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB) are two of them that, unlike other organisations, have been carrying on their involvement in various sectors of development including but not limited to education until now. With their partnership in these reform initiatives, the country’s reform policies have been significantly converged into those that are inspired by neoliberal ideologies. With regard to the widespread concern about the quality of education which is arguably the outcome of the seemingly never-ending reforms in and experiments with the secondary education sector, questions are raised about the justification of such reform initiatives, as well as the motives of those advocating these. Whether instilling reform ideas from overseas are done through voluntary borrowing or coercive lending has also come to the forefront of the debate. On this backdrop, using the theoretical lens of policy borrowing and lending, this paper aims to examine the claim that IFO-financed initiatives are designed to serve the loan provider’s interest rather than that of the receiving country, and that banking business is the principal driver of these initiatives rather than the seemingly philanthropic interest. Drawing on interviews with policy actors and academics along with analysis of relevant policy documents, I will focus on how anticipated economic gains, rather than developing the concerned sector by addressing genuine needs, is emerging as the unstated driver of reform, and what strategies are followed in pursing that motive. I will also show how these strategies produce a vicious circle of dependence on international loans that ultimately leads to reinforcing the perpetuation of inequality. (Word count: 284)
Keywords: Neoliberal educational reform, International Financial Organisations (IFO), Educational policy borrowing and lending

A Fast Track to Success: How Kosovo’s Private Schools are Reproducing Social Inequality?

Tringa Kasneci, University of Edinburgh; Andi Haxhiu, University of Edinburgh

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018 ranked Kosovo students below the average in reading, mathematics, and science. Despite sporadic critical voices concerned about the situation of the education system in Kosovo following the declaration of independence in 2008, it was only the 2018 PISA results that marked a major discursive shift that produced a widespread national debate on Kosovo's institutional failure to establish a stable and inclusive education system. Therefore, it has only recently become evident that education has become a central rhetorical device for political campaigning, showcasing power dynamics and, most importantly, increasingly displaying public and political relevance.

Considering the growing relevance of education in Kosovo's public and political discourse, this research paper will explore the impact of socio-economic status on overall student performance. Despite that PISA 2018 results indicate that "disadvantage is not destiny," we will extensively investigate how prestigious international scholarships like Chevening Scholarship, Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF), and Fulbright Graduate Fellowship significantly favour students educated in private schools and universities. For this reason, this research attempts to explicate how internationally sponsored fellowships in Kosovo play a substantial role in reproducing and deepening both social and economic inequality (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977; Savage, 2015).

This research engages in an in-depth analysis of the role of the private schools in Kosovo and, despite performative acts of inclusion and equality, empirically explicates how the intake is dominated by the wealthy. Furthermore, this research will attempt to analyse how private schools in Kosovo offer a fast track to better undergraduate and postgraduate studying opportunities for their students. This is manifested in the form of an entrenched privilege for particular social and economic elites. Finally, this research will attempt to empirically justify how the existing structure of the education system is unjust and deepens the inequality gap.

‘I’m now more capable of learning strategically’: Chinese international student’s multifaceted, contextual and dynamic engagement at UK universities

Dangeni, University of Glasgow

Existing research on the growing number of Chinese international postgraduate students’ learning tends to take a narrow view of their experiences, mostly identifying challenges and barriers, yet lacking insights into their nuanced and multifaceted experiences, particularly regarding what they bring to this international learning experience and how they make sense of their experiences and interactions. This study employs the meta-construct of student engagement to explore Chinese international students’ experiences at two UK universities in order to gain a more holistic understanding. Key stakeholders were invited to contribute to this qualitative exploration through three phases: 1) document analysis, classroom observation and debriefing with programme organisers were conducted to identify institution-provided opportunities for learning; 2) the monthly audio diaries of 22 Chinese students were analysed to capture their everyday learning throughout the academic year; and 3) a visually-guided interview method, i.e., Rivers of Experience was employed with students and semi-structured interviews with staff members to gather their reflective views. Thematic analysis was conducted guided by Kahu’s conceptual framework of Student Engagement, which enabled a holistic understanding of institutional and student-related factors and is considered helpful and insightful to illuminate and indicate contextual trajectories, student engagement and success. In particular, the research findings provide rich and detailed insights into Chinese international students multifaceted state of engagement, i.e., intertwined emotions, cognitions and behaviours in everyday learning, and suggest nuanced categories of influential factors from multiple perspectives (i.e., institutional and student). This presentation intends to share a conceptualisation of student engagement in HE developed from this study to unpack the complexity of international learning and development. Moreover, suggestions for key stakeholders involved, including HE institutions, programmes, staff members and international students as to how international students can be best prepared for and supported in their international developmental trajectories will be discussed.

Non-DAC scholarships: Student voices on China’s higher education provision in the Global South

Tingting Yuan, University of Nottingham

This paper is based on an empirical study that seeks how the future professionals in the Global South perceive China’s scholarships and university study.

In the international provision of scholarships, SDG 4 monitors the scholarships offered by Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors to developing countries. The scholarship flow within partnerships among developing country themselves are not indicated clearly. While there are boosted studies on internationalisation of China’s higher education, limited findings analyse foreign students' ‘experience’ of China’s higher education from the scope of international development and international political economy (IPE).

Specifically, the qualitative empirical study looked at the voices of 39 university students from 26 developing countries, studying in 5 cities in China. The findings revealed an increasingly globalised higher education teaching and learning approach and some persistent struggles such as the language of instruction. The ‘Chinese degrees’ demonstrates: a strong central investment in higher education in contrast to the decentralised trend in public sectors across many Western countries, a strong embeddedness of education in national foreign strategies that emphasise shared ‘development’ experiences, a strong language and culture ‘shock’ to students that contrasts university studies taught simply by a global language (English); and a strongly perceived good value for students’ employability or future life plans.

By analysing findings from a critical cultural political economy of education (CCPEE) approach, the paper looked at four moments of education, from the practice to the politics of China's higher education provision. The students’ voices reminded us to rethink the nature, space, and capacity of current knowledge transformation in universities. The paper calls for a further critical examination of higher education and its relation to international development in an increasingly ‘normalised’ global context but towards a more uncertain future.

Partners in school and course decisions: Factors that influence young women’s decision to study Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics in Technical pathways.

Alice Amegah, University of Cambridge

The paper examines the underexplored factors that influence young women’s decision to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses in upper secondary school-based Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes. Although a considerable research body accounts for why young women do not study STEM, a few studies examine the factors that influence young women’s decision to study STEM-TVET (Mcdool and Morris, 2020). The study drew on the expectancy-value theory of achievement-related choice (Eccles et al., 1994). And methodologically, it drew on the life histories of twenty-seven young women in four technical schools in Ghana’s Central and Northern regions. Interpretation Phenomenological Analysis revealed five factors that influenced young women’s decision to study STEM-TVET. These factors were concrete occupational goals, validation, invalidations, influencers and underminers. Concrete occupational goals were long-term career plans linked to young women’s interests and abilities. Validators were fathers and mothers who gave their daughters approval and support to study STEM-related. Invalidators were mostly mothers who disapproved of their daughter’s decision to study STEM-related. Influencers were friends, teachers, community, and family members that provided positive narratives and examples to help young women navigate their decision to study STEM-related TVET. Underminers were friends, community members, family and teachers that provided negative records and examples that undermined young women’s STEM-related TVET choice. Ultimately, it appeared that fathers’ validations are significant to increasing the participation of young women in STEM-related TVET courses. These findings contribute to the scarce literature concerning factors influencing young women’s decision to study STEM courses in TVET schools. It is an invitation to investigate further qualitative and quantitative understandings of why young women can choose STEM courses in TVET.

HEI and non-HEI partnerships for refugee students in Ugandan universities: formal and informal structures for participation in a university lifeworld

Rovincer Najjuma; Rebecca Nambi, Makerere University; Michael Gallagher, University of Edinburgh

Participation in higher education can be economically and socially empowering for refugee students, yet this participation is contingent on a range of structures, practices, and partnerships, many of which are not fully available to refugee students in universities.

Using the lived experiences of refugee students in Ugandan universities, alongside administrative accounts of administrators in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and non-HEIs actors in Uganda as an empirical case and drawing on a theoretical framework informed by Habermas’ lifeworlds, we examined HEIs mesa-level institutional practices and structures for refugee students’ access and how non-HEIs actors support access and participation of refugee students.

Qualitative data was generated through semi-structured interviews from 25 participants from 2020-202. The data suggests that institutional policy homogenously frames refugee students as international students. This homogenous framing and policy omission disregards the unique participation challenges refugee students face, their lived experiences with education, and reproduces complex institutional practices that limit participation and their integration into the lifeworld of the university.

However, non-HEIs actors provide a mechanism that place the complex practices of the university within the actual reach of refugee students to facilitate their participation. Further, participation in informal social structures contingent to HEIs enables refugee students to accumulate social capital for information sharing and problem solving, especially to navigate the unfamiliar and complex institutional practices and manage their own social welfare. Recommendations for institutional policy inclusion for refugee students include strengthening partnerships with non-HEIs actors to coherently surface the lifeworlds of these students, to link this to the informal social structures that refugee students depend on to manage their university participation, and to strategically mitigate barriers to meaningful participation for those refugee students in higher education.

The potential of a capability approach for collaborative research with low-fee private schools

Laura Day Ashley, University of Birmingham

This paper considers how the capability approach, developed by Indian economist-philosopher Amartya Sen, can offer a theoretical lens to inform a community-engaged and collaborative approach to research with lower-fee private schools (LFPS) in the Global South. This research field is dominated by studies that in/directly examine LFPS versus government schools on the quality and equity of their educational provision. Interpretations of empirical evidence in support of LFPS are often implicitly underpinned by a human capital perspective favouring its low-cost, high accountability, market-led model that produces individual and national economic returns. Those against LFPS tend to be informed - increasingly more explicitly - by a human rights perspective rejecting low LFPS teacher pay and conditions and wider inequities that can arise when parents (are coerced to) choose LFPS. Both perspectives have blind spots and contribute to perpetuating a polarized debate on the role of LFPS often played out on a global platform, usually disconnected from the local communities from which these schools emerge. A capability approach has potential to shift the debate to the local community. Key to this approach is the expansion of peoples’ freedoms and opportunities to live the lives they have reason to value. Therefore, an alternative conceptualization of independently-owned LFPS within a capability framework may position these schools as - arguably imperfect - manifestations of the agency and freedom of individuals to bring about changes in education that they value, both through the establishment of LFPS in communities and in terms of their support by parents who choose them. This presents an opportunity for researchers to explore more deeply the capabilities that members of such communities have reason to value through grassroots listing and facilitating reflective discussion and debate, potentially leading to the co-creation of practices on the ground that reflect these capabilities within and beyond LFPS.

Exploring multi-sector partnerships for improved participation and engagement of children with disabilities in Malawi – ‘Tiphunzire (Let’s Learn) Project

Anita Soni, University of Birmingham; Marisol Reyes Soto, University of Birmingham, Paul Lynch, University of Glasgow

Global agreements, including the UN SDGs emphasise good quality early childhood development, from birth to eight, as an international priority for all children. This includes a ensuring transitions which require children to cope with potentially challenging episodes of change and be able to adapt to different school systems.
This presentation, funded by the British Academy Early Childhood and Education scheme, explores how young children with disabilities can be best supported to participate and engage in early childhood centres, primary and special schools in a rural district in Malawi. The main focus has been seeking ways for education, health and social welfare sectors to collaboratively identify the processes to support children with disabilities and their families in moving into education. Through the use of focus group discussions with these actors, we explored three key questions:
1. How do actors from different sectors work together to identify children with disabilities?
2. What information do they collect?
3. How do they share this information with other sectors?
From these discussions, it became clear that all three disciplines identified children at the natural entry point to that sector – hospital, health centre, home or school. For example, in education, children were identified as having disabilities through school registration and in health, either soon after birth in the hospital or at the health centre or, if they attend a clinic at the hospital, at a later date. What is apparent from these discussions, is the lack of coordination and sharing of information between the sectors.
In response to this apparent need, we will discuss potential ways to improve inter-sectoral collaboration through a transdisciplinary model. Setting up a coordinated team should also lead to better sharing of information, the creation of shared goals and the delivery of support needed by the family in a targeted and systematic way.

Diverse heritage mothers’ perspectives on reforming their subjectivities and roles for their children’s education during COVID-19 in England: recognising mothers as partners in education

Aliya Khalid, University of Oxford; Lavinia Kamphausen, University of Oxford

As the international community seeks to maintain partnerships between the global and the local, a delinking often occurs when the perspectives of local actors are marginalised. This paper addresses this issue of marginalisation by bringing to the fore the educational parenting experiences of diverse heritage mothers in England during the COVID pandemic. Current literature on UK resident (and broadly) South Asian immigrant mothers depicts them as either over expecting and overpowering or disengaged from their children’s education. This literature focuses on cultural and particularly ethnic identity formation. However, such discourses highlight a particular static identity of the immigrant South Asian mum and fail to recognise their adaptability and struggles as they raise their children between two cultural contexts.

We address this issue by exploring the subjectivity of 18 diverse heritage mothers’ experiences of educating their young children during the pandemic. The research funded by the British Academy draws on one group discussion and semi-structured interviews and through narrative enquiry engages with the concepts of ‘time’ and ‘space’ (physical and psychological) to understand how in experiencing time (changing due to COVID), the mothers created and recreated spaces of learning for their children. One interesting finding is the formation and reformation of the identity of the mother in relation to a changing time and context; another one is the increased activity of philosophising about their children's education as stimulated by homeschooling.

This paper deconstructs the static understanding of the South Asian mother as an exotic cultural other fixated on preserving the cultural and ethnic identities of their children. Instead, it reimagines them as subjects in a state of flux with the changing ’time’ and ‘space’ to provide the best possible support for their children. This work urges deeper understandings of mothers’ complex and crucial roles in educating their children and produces insights to inform educational policy and practice to facilitate productive school and family partnerships as well as knowledge exchanges.

Peace- and war-makers: teachers against the background of armed and unarmed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Namashunju Samuel Matabishi; Jean-Benoît Falisse; Gauthier Marchais; Cyril Brandt

Since its independence, and even before that during the colonial period, the DRC has been a 'conflict-ridden' country. These conflicts are linked to various factors, which often reinforce one another, including tensions around political and customary leadership, communal and land disputes, ethnic and family identities. Young people tend to be active parties in such conflicts, through armed groups, political parties, and religious denominations, and school and out-of-school environments, including institutions of higher education, are also marked by the persistence of conflicts.

The persistence of violence and conflict as well as the non-respect of human rights call for in-depth reflection on the mechanisms that enhance a culture of peace and positively change the attitudes, behaviour, and practices of individuals. South Kivu, a province hosting a population drawing from several ethnic, tribal, and linguistic backgrounds, will serve as a case study and we will discuss the findings of a mixed-method project looking at teacher education in 72 schools. The paper explores the ways in which teachers and educators act and are seen as actors in the conflict; it seeks to better understand when teachers are agents who exacerbate conflicts and when, on the contrary, they act as key resources for pacification and hold true to the idea of schools as "forming free beings whose values are not accumulation and domination, but free association in terms of equality, sharing and solidarity, and who cooperate towards common and democratic goals. In particular, we analyse peace and teaching through the three key roles schools play: imparting knowledge to learners; teaching how to that knowledge; and teaching how to benefit from that knowledge and being a citizen.

The role of international networks and partnerships in enabling access to and learning outcomes from early childhood education (ECE) in Uganda

Bea Simpson, University of Cambridge; Ricardo Sabates, University of Cambridge; Mary Goretti Nakabugo, Uwezo Uganda

Early childhood education (ECE) is considered vital for development within the 2015 sustainable development goals and it is also associated with significant socio-economic and environmental benefits for society. However, despite these significant benefits, ECE remains under researched and underfunded, especially in the global south where the ontological and epistemological variations within the corpus on ECE render it even more composite. Access to and learning outcomes from ECE remains under researched especially among hard to reach populations such as protracted refugees. We use the 2018 Uwezo citizen-led survey data and employ logistic regression to examine access to and learning outcomes from ECE among protracted refugee juxtaposed against Ugandan children living in the same geographical locations in Uganda where more than half the refugee population are children of school going age, competing for the same educational resources. The results indicate:

46% of refugee children had access to ECE compared to 27% of Uganda children.

Children with access to ECE were associated with greater odds of better learning outcomes in both population groups, with odds ratios ranging from 1.31 to 6.51 for access to ECE.

In all age cohorts (except for English among the 6-8 year old nationals), refugees children had better learning outcomes.

While socio-economic factors had an effect on access to and learning outcomes from ECE, it was evident that these effects were mitigated among the refugee and had less impact on their levels of access to and learning outcomes from ECE when compared to Ugandan children.

We explain the above population differences between refugee and Ugandan children by the effects of investments made in refugee education by international partners highlighting the criticality of international networks in catalysing positive effects of access to education and attainment in protracted situations.

IUG / Northumbria – an interdisciplinary partnership for sustainable peace

Amani Elmgadma, Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine; William Guariento, Northumbria University; Caroline Burns, Northumbria University

An interdisciplinary research team from IUG (Gaza) and Northumbria (UK) have completed the CUSP-funded* project Development of Intercultural Competencies for women engineers: a Story Circles approach. In Gaza, a “protracted crises” context (The Red Cross, 2019), engineering is crucial and increasingly attractive to female students, however intersectional barriers restrict employment / career-advancement. Similarly, the UK’s Engineering Council Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes report (2020) recognises that female career-progression is a particular issue. Research on women, peace, and security indicates a strong connection between women's empowerment and gender equality with sustainable peace. Therefore, this partnership recognized the importance of addressing women’s empowerment to achieve peace by using the Story Circles methodology (Deardorff, 2020) for the sharing of experiences and strategies for overcoming barriers in professional life. The PI is Amani Elmgadma, Head of International Relations at the Islamic University of Gaza; she holds a Masters degree in development policies and practices and a bachelor's degree in engineering herself and will present the main findings.

British Council funding is allowing the team to consolidate their partnership and build on previous findings. An EME-focused investigation into barriers facing female engineers began in April 2022 and will explore how English as a Medium of Education is experienced by participants in Gaza, and how this might relate to employability. EME is a global phenomenon, linked to the internationalisation of higher education and employability, yet its rapid spread has outstripped empirical research (Galloway, 2017). We are exploring participants’ language preferences when discussing personal challenges and emotion, giving the option to run the Story Circles in Arabic, challenging the assumption that international research projects should be conducted in English, and giving value to a decolonial approach in the former British colony. The projects contribute to UN SDGs 4, 5, 16 and, crucially, 17: Partnerships for Goals.

* https://www.cuspnetwork.org/about-us/our-project/

Developing a comparative and interdisciplinary education research network to explore education in the wake of Covid-19: a report on work in progress

Elizabeth Hidson, University of Sunderland; Benoite Martin, Ulster University; Olga Trunova, Christos Tseronis, Sidra Asghar, Amirdhavarshini Padmanabhan, Masayo Watanabe, Xin Zhang, Iuliia Selivanova, Dora Tot, Abdelmagid Sakr, University of Bologna, Italy; Emma Jackson, University of York; Sara Ganassin, Newcastle University; Patrizia Fattori, University of Bologna, Italy; Una O’Connor Bones, Stephen McClean, Priyank Shukla, Ulster University, Northern Ireland

Covid-19 has led to a ‘perfect storm’ as educators around the world have battled to provide education in the wake of a pandemic. Organisations such as the OECD, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank have collaborated to collect and process high-level data from government authorities around the world on key factors such as lost learning, distance education, support of students and educators, assessment and funding (OECD, 2021). Knowing what has happened is important but understanding why and how is key to actionable learning from the pandemic. A comparative and interdisciplinary education research network (CIERN) was established in 2021 with an initial goal of exploring this topic from the context of early career researchers with personal and professional interests in ten countries around the world. Starting by disaggregating published secondary data and re-applying a critical lens to individual countries, the network reconstructed a preliminary report to identify key themes for a further survey and semi-structured online interviews. The three major themes of interrupted education, differential inequalities and digital poverty resulted in the production of a thematic heat map and interview protocol underpinning the second stage of the research to be carried out with educators in each of the ten countries. This will allow for a series of triangulated international case studies to illuminate high-level quantitative data using a mixed methods joint display analysis approach. However, the product of the research was not the only goal. The process of establishing the network, of developing an international partnership of experienced and early career researchers prepared to cooperate and collaborate online to develop collective research was the other goal. The resulting process and product are examples of interdisciplinary and global interconnectedness.


OECD. (2021). The State of School Education: One Year into the COVID Pandemic. OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/201dde84-en.

Learning from global and local partnerships in education: insights from historical and postcolonial perspectives

Presentation 1: Michael Crossley, University of Bristol; Angela Little UCL, Institute of Education
Presentation 2: Aminath Muna, Maldives; Aminath Shiyama, Maldives National University; Terra Sprague, University of Bristol; Michael Crossley, University of Bristol
Presentation 3: Paulina Ruiz-Cabello; Betzabe Torres-Olave; Angeline M. Barrett, University of Bristol
Presentation 4: Rafael Mitchell, University of Bristol; Gamuchirai Chakona, Rhodes University, South Africa, Mustafe Elmi, Transparency Solutions, Somalia; Tigist Grieve, University of Bristol; Dan Imaniriho, University of Rwanda; Anisha Shanmugam, Indian Institute for Human Settlements; Terra Sprague, University of Bristol; Leon Tikly, University of Bristol

Symposium Convenors: Michael Crossley and Angela Little

For some decades improved ‘partnerships’ have been seen as a key to increased success in the development and implementation of education policy and practice worldwide. This can be seen in the related theoretical literature as well as in research modalities and work more directly associated with the promotion and analysis of policy and practice. Partnership discourse and initiatives continue to be at the forefront of much contemporary work carried out by local, national and international educational agencies, as well as that by theorists and advocates engaged in advancing postcolonial theory and the deep and far-reaching challenges of decolonial perspectives. This Symposium reflects upon this ‘partnership’ history, experience and ongoing challenges across a diversity of fields, activities and contexts, and in ways that benefit from critical insights drawn from in-depth historical analysis and deep engagement in postcolonial theory.

The Symposium consists of four related papers and a concluding panel discussion with participants that include a combination of early career researchers, colleagues from a diversity of backgrounds, and personnel with extensive international experience of active engagement in international partnerships in education, international development and high-level research.

While the content of each presentation differs, they all explore the history, experience and challenges of partnerships in education as a unifying theme. In doing so, the first presentation (Little) examines the Conference theme’s concern with partnerships in education, drawing upon ongoing research on 150 years of the history of education  in the Isle of Man, a British crown dependency, with a long colonial history: what types of partnership between local, national and international actors were involved in  securing ‘Education for All’ for this small jurisdiction?; and what are the resonances between this historical drive for EFA and current drives elsewhere?

The second presentation (Muna, Shiyama, Sprague and Crossley), reflects upon global-local (dis)connections through the origins, experience and challenges faced by a network connecting small states, and particularly small island developing states (SIDS) worldwide: the Education in Small States Research Group (ESSRG) (www.smallstates.net).This international partnership has evolved over 30 years, generating considerable experience that has much to offer others engaged in sustaining more ‘equitable international partnerships’, connections, collaboration and co-operation.

Presentation three (Ruiz-Cabello, Torres-Olave and Barrett) reflects on the PhD process, viewed as an international partnership between globally mobile researchers navigated within local universities, with histories of colonial domination. Hence, early career research identities are formed through a process of self-authoring and collective meaning-making with supervisors and peers within the context of a hierarchical institutional culture that subjugates the knowledge and language of the PhD researcher and research context.

The fourth presentation (Mitchell, Chakona, Elmi, Grieve, Imaniriho, Shanmugam, Sprague, and Tikly) draws on evidence from the international research network Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF). For this symposium we present original analysis of 67 TESF-funded multi-stakeholder projects led by researchers in India, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland and South Africa, and identify patterns in the priorities and partnerships for educational change within and across these different national contexts.

Together, the four presentations reveal common issues, principles, challenges, politics and theoretical implications for the international and theoretical literature on partnerships in education. In view of this, the Symposium concludes with a Panel Discussion (Chair: Tikly) designed to stimulate critical debate focussed upon what can be learned from this experience, and how this might add to and challenge existing knowledge and understandings. Panel members include a combination of early career researchers and participants who have extensive experience of influential educational partnerships in action (Crossley, Barrett, Grieve, Little, Mitchell, Muna et al ……)

Symposium of 90 Minutes.

Presentation titles:

150 years of ‘Education for All’ partnerships on the Isle of Man, a small island nation.

Angela Little, (UCL Institute of Education, UK)

Insights, challenges and achievements from 30 years of global partnerships: learning from the Education in Small States Research Group (ESSRG)

Aminath Muna (Maldives), Aminath Shiyama (Maldives National University), Terra Sprague (University of Bristol, UK), Michael Crossley (University of Bristol, UK)

The PhD as an international partnership: authoring research   identities within colonising institutions

Paulina Ruiz-Cabello, Betzabe Torres-Olave and Angeline M. Barrett ( all University of Bristol, UK)

Priorities and partnerships for transforming education: Cross-national evidence from India, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland and South Africa 

Rafael Mitchell (University of Bristol, UK), Gamuchirai Chakona (Rhodes University, South Africa), Mustafe Elmi (Transparency Solutions, Somalia), Tigist Grieve (University of Bristol, UK), Dan Imaniriho (University of Rwanda), Anisha Shanmugam (Indian Institute for Human Settlements), Terra Sprague (University of Bristol, UK), Leon Tikly (University of Bristol, UK)


Abstracts with full details of the 4 presentations are below:

1. 150 years of ‘Education for All’ partnerships on the Isle of Man, a small island nation.

Angela Little, UCL Institute of Education, UK

2022 marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the landmark 1872 Act for Public Elementary Education in the Isle of Man, a small island nation in the middle of the Irish sea. Historically, the island experienced economic, cultural and colonial connections with Ireland, Norway, Scotland and England. Its people sailed, migrated and worked globally. Its native language, Manx, is a Goidelic language of the insular Celtic branch of the Celtic language family and is related to Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic.

In the late 1860s, by which time there was a close connection with England, there was growing concern about developments on the European continent. It was the eve of ‘the second industrial revolution’ which coincided with the emergence of a unified German Empire which threatened Britain’s industrial pre-eminence. There was an increasing awareness that publicly funded compulsory education had contributed to Germany’s rapid industrial ‘catch up.’ Up until the 1870s, the provision of education in the Isle of Man, England and Scotland involved funding partnerships between the church, parents, private bodies, charities and endowments was not compulsory. In Prussia and Saxony, by contrast, education was funded by government and was compulsory.

The Isle of Man Act introduced compulsory ‘Education for All’ in 1872 in the same year as Scotland, and eight years ahead of England and Wales. It transferred control of education from the Church to the State. It paved the way for subsequent improvements in the quantity and quality of teachers, the abolition of school fees, and the extension and creation of an independent system of education. So, how and why did this landmark Act come about? How was compulsory education enacted several years ahead of England? Who resisted and who supported its creation? What types of partnerships between local, national and international actors were involved? What impact did the Act have on securing ‘Education for All’ for the children of the Isle of Man? What are the resonances between this historical drive for EFA and current drives elsewhere?

2. Insights, challenges and achievements from 30 years of global partnerships: learning from the Education in Small States Research Group (ESSRG)

Aminath Muna (Maldives), Aminath Shiyama (Maldives National University),

Terra Sprague (University of Bristol, UK), Michael Crossley (University of Bristol, UK)

Partnerships in education can take many forms ranging from partnerships between participants involved in the local development and implementation of policy and practice, to cooperation between international agencies in agenda setting, and engagement in multiple forms of research collaboration. In this presentation, we reflect upon what can be learned from the experience of an international research network that has been sustained throughout the last three decades: The Education in Small States Research Group (ESSRG). The ESSRG has grown to include over 100 members in the form of individual academics, policymakers and practitioners, international organisations and NGOs and university groups located in small states, and especially small island developing states (SIDS) worldwide. In framing our analysis with reference to the ‘international partnership’ literature, we document the origins and underlying rationale for the ESSRG, examine the changing nature of the challenges encountered by all involved, reflect upon what has been achieved and consider what we and others engaged in international partnership initiatives may learn from this experience.

3. The PhD as an international partnership: authoring research identities within colonizing institutions 

Paulina Ruiz-Cabello, Betzabe Torres-Olave and Angeline M. Barrett

This paper reflects on identity co-production of globally mobile PhD students who are part of local universities with histories of colonial domination. It draws on the experiences of the three authors, who are positioned differently (doctoral student, postdoctoral researcher, and PhD supervisor) and have been conducting and/or supervising research in the Global South while being based in a Western University.

The PhD is viewed as a process of self and collective authoring. This process is conducted within institutional contexts invested in reproducing a colonial legacy of hierarchical and competitive knowledge production. Nonetheless, within academia it is becoming commonplace to articulate aspirations to build interdisciplinarity and global-local knowledge exchange. Drawing on the concept of hybridity, the doctorate is defined as a space of international partnership with supervisors, participants, and peers, in which different knowledge systems, power dynamics, and cultures collide. Within that contested hybrid space, doctoral students’ author and position themselves by drawing on discursive and material resources to navigate and act. In this paper, we problematise our PhD roles and journeys by interrogating the barriers and opportunities we experienced within the PhD. These include experiencing a colonial culture where previous knowledge or experience of postgraduate researchers from their home country is dismissed or subjugated. We aim to reclaim the value of the collective dimension of our intersubjective academic identity and the ways we co-produce and understand social research and our roles in it.

4. Priorities and partnerships for transforming education: Cross-national evidence from India, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland and South Africa

Rafael Mitchell (University of Bristol, UK)
Gamuchirai Chakona (Rhodes University, South Africa)
Mustafe Elmi (Transparency Solutions, Somalia)
Tigist Grieve (University of Bristol, UK)
Dan Imaniriho (University of Rwanda)
Anisha Shanmugam (Indian Institute for Human Settlements)
Terra Sprague (University of Bristol, UK)
Leon Tikly (University of Bristol, UK)

The international research network Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF) presents a unique opportunity for understanding priorities and partnerships for educational change in post-colonial contexts in the Global South. With funding from UKRI and support from a large team of actors around the world, TESF (https://tesf.network/) is an international testbed for the democratisation of knowledge production in education. In 2021 TESF invited calls for proposals for sustainability-oriented, multi-stakeholder research partnerships in India, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland and South Africa. In an effort to support endogenous research priorities, submitted proposals were evaluated by a team which included international actors, but all funding decisions were made by national actors within each context. Ultimately, 67 projects were accepted. For this BAICE symposium our international team presents original analysis of the 67 successful research proposals to identify patterns in the priorities and partnerships for educational change within and across different national contexts.

Technology to strengthen partnership working in Zambian schools in ZEST

Lore Gallastegi, Mark Gaved, Clare Woodward, Fiona Henry and Kris Stutchbury, The Open University

The Zambian Education School-based Training (ZEST) programme has developed a School-Based Continuous Professional Development (SBCPD) model to support the implementation of the revised curriculum and policies for SBCPD in Zambia. Working with World Vision (Zambia), officials from the Ministry of Education and teachers and school leaders in over 400 schools, the Open University (UK) has developed a set of resources to support active teaching and learning in Africa.

A central challenge has been how to facilitate the support and monitoring of professional development activities across a wide geographical area, which were further complicated mid project by pandemic travel restrictions. Digital and networked technologies have enabled access to a wide range of participants and resources to support teachers and district officials. Open educational resources, disseminated over local network hubs accessed via domesticated technologies (smartphones) have extended the potential reach and media capabilities of learning materials. Familiar social media tools (e.g. WhatsApp) have enabled the remote support of teacher CPD during pandemic travel restrictions. However, the introduction and use of educational technologies, particularly in poorly resourced settings, faces the risk of reinforcing inequalities as much as building more equitable partnerships.

This poster will offer a representation of how an ecology of educational technologies is being used to enable meetings with schools and district officials across different locations;  to facilitate teacher group meetings within and across schools; to provide access to resources to support teachers’ skills and development, including the sharing of videos developed by teachers; and to monitor the implementation of ZEST across 400 schools. We reflect on findings from recent research, identifying the potentials of digitally enhanced SBCPD but also the challenges experienced.

Sustainable quality education: calling for partnerships on the conceptual level

Maren Seehawer, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

This contribution problematises the epistemological substance of the sustainable development (SDG) agenda, an agenda that forms the basis for many current educational partnerships between the global North and the global South. Indigenous ways of knowing have long been recognised for their sustainable potential, which results from worldviews that promote living in harmony with, rather than dominating and exploiting, nature. Moreover, it has repeatedly been argued that integrating indigenous with so-called Western knowledges in global South classrooms would provide students with a larger repository to find local, sustainable solutions, make education more relevant to students’ lived realities and thereby contribute to decolonising Eurocentric curricula. In other words, integrating knowledges should form a central aspect of educational quality that is at the core of SDG no. 4. Ironically, indigenous ways of knowing are neither mentioned in the SDG education chapter nor in the overall SDG document. Rather, indigenous ways of knowing where deemed irrelevant for the SDG agenda, or, at best, to have relevance on the local, operational level. Indigenous ways of knowing, have, however, been recognised in the 2020 Human Development Report. The report acknowledges explicitly the role of indigenous peoples and their knowledge systems for the wellbeing of our shared planet. Drawing on recent studies and analyses, this contribution problematises this acknowledgement as superficial and contributing to an anthropocentric conceptualisation of development that is grounded in 19th and 20th century European Enlightenment thinking. It is argued here that the SDG agenda is in fact unsustainable in its continued Eurocentric foundation. The conclusion here is thus an appeal for development and educational planners, policy makers and practitioners to rethink and rebuild educational partnerships to integrate indigenous and so-called Western knowledges not only on the local implementation levels, but also, and explicitly so, on the conceptual level.

Understanding research relationships with Nagas

Mili Bhatnagar, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nagas are an ethnic community, constitutionally recognized as Scheduled Tribes, most of whom reside in the Northeast India. Historically, Nagas have been primitivized by colonial-era British administrator-ethnographers and racialized and marginalized by postcolonial Indian state. These discursive images of Nagas are critical for any researcher working with Nagas to understand, but they particularly inform research relationships with a non-Naga Indian researcher like me. This interview-based study explores the differences between how Nagas and I think about the ethics of responsible research with communities otherized through research and politics. Taking inspiration from the concept of relationality in Indigenous research approaches, I conducted online interviews with eight Naga young adult professionals, who were also friends of mine, and seven native Naga scholars to explore how they understood research relationships. The digital interview method was shaped by the reality of Covid-19. I specifically focused on how friends and scholars understood colonial knowledge constructions about their community by non-Naga outsiders, and how they understood my positionality as a non-Naga outsider researcher. Based on these interviews, the paper argues that, when devoid of community members’ participation, discussions risk framing research relationships as static entities divided by binaries of dominant researcher versus subjugated researched, or colonized recipients versus decolonized agents. When a researcher tries to understand research relationships, including their positionality, in this individualized way, they may inadvertently ascribe sole power to themselves to define relationships. This may cause them to consider possible harm to a community but ignore the critical process of earning trust. Such way of understanding research relationships, devoid of community member participation, can thus reproduce the very binaries and power relationships that critical researchers seek to avoid. The paper concludes with implications for partnerships and collaboration in educational research which will speak directly to the theme of this conference. I hereby submit this abstract for open sub-theme.

Building Partnerships Across Disciplines: Using Learning Science to Research and Support Children’s Cognitive Development in Rwanda and Beyond

Stephen H. Bayley, University of Cambridge

Tackling many global education challenges requires that researchers, policymakers and practitioners break down the traditional barriers between disciplines to identify new solutions for understanding and advancing children’s learning.  Increased engagement and partnership with learning scientists, child psychologists and neuroscientists, in particular could offer valuable insights for laying essential foundations for pupils’ early educational outcomes and later 21st-century skills (Abadzi, 2016).  However, to date, the vast majority of psychological and neuroscientific studies have hailed from high-income countries and overlooked the reality of children’s experiences across the Global South, including the adverse effects of extreme poverty.

This paper presentation considers the potential relevance and application of the learning sciences to international education, with reference to an empirical study of children’s cognitive flexibility in Rwanda.  Cognitive flexibility concerns the ability to think ‘outside the box’, adapt to changing circumstances and see things from multiple perspectives (Diamond, 2014).  It provides an important basis for students’ more advanced competences like creativity, planning and problem solving.  Specifically, the research used established measures in four urban public primary schools to assess Primary 1 and 4 pupils’ cognitive flexibility and explore its relationship with outcomes like literacy and non-verbal reasoning.  Semi-structured interviews and lesson observations were also undertaken with teachers to understand their practices and behaviours to foster learners’ adaptability.

The findings reveal that children’s cognitive flexibility significantly predicted their non-verbal reasoning but not their reading outcomes, in contrast to research in higher-income settings.  Within lessons, teachers used group-based exercises and practical activities to nurture their pupils’ flexibility, while frequent code switching might have also inadvertently helped them to adapt.  The presentation concludes by recognising some of the barriers currently limiting collaboration with learning scientists in the Global South, and with proposals for building more equitable, effective and interdisciplinary partnerships to support children’s holistic development in the future.

Different approaches to the curriculum mapping of mathematics through the lenses of two contrasting educational jurisdictions

Nicky Rushton, Cambridge University Press & Assessment; Dominika Majewska, Cambridge University Press & Assessment; Stuart Shaw, University of Cambridge

Two different types of curriculum mapping are described in the academic literature. The term curriculum mapping is commonly used to describe the curriculum content in a single educational setting. These curriculum maps show what was or will be taught, or the expectations of learning that have been agreed by multiple teachers or schools. These maps have several uses including showing the relationships between areas of content, or between content areas and assessments. Comparative curriculum maps are used to compare the content of multiple curricula or exam specifications/syllabuses. These are used to identify similarities and differences in the content of the different curricula, and are a tool that can be used by partnerships to develop new curricula.

Although comparative curriculum maps appear in some published reports, very little research literature discusses this type of curriculum mapping. Where it is discussed, articles focus upon the process of mapping and the strengths and limitations of the documentation that can be used for this, rather than the types of comparison that can be made and how these vary according to features of the curriculum.

In this presentation, we will draw upon a mapping of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics from the United States against the national curriculum in England to discuss the four different comparisons that can be made from comparative curriculum maps: content coverage, content placement, and the breadth and depth of the curricula. In particular, we will consider how features of the curricula, such as the way in which content is arranged into year groups, can affect these comparisons. As comparative curriculum maps can be resource-intensive to produce, we will also consider whether it is legitimate to focus on a subset of the content, and how this would affect the conclusions that can be drawn from the mapping.

Are decolonial partnerships possible? Lessons from a North-South partnership supporting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Zimbabwe

Jalpa Ruparelia, Juliet Thondhlana, University of Nottingham

International educational development has been founded on ‘traditional’ North-South partnerships, reliant on funding predominantly from the North. This immediately places the North in a position of power, with an assumption that the North leads in knowledge and skills training production, and the South in data collection. More recently and in the context of internationalisation of HE, international partnerships in knowledge creation and resource sharing have become a key strategy. Thus, the nature and shape of such partnerships is also shifting as institutions are thinking about what they can do together in a more equitable, decolonial way.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, five international partners, including two UK universities, three Zimbabwean universities and a Zimbabwean NGO came together to seek ways to support IDPs to fight the pandemic in Zimbabwe. The partnership was unique as most of the UK academics were also members of the Zimbabwean diaspora, while one was of Asian origin. This led to new insights into the complexities of North-South partnerships in which all the actors involved were originally from the South, with some settled in the North. This intersection of the ‘local’ and the ‘diaspora’ negotiating a decolonial approach in our work with IDPs was unpredictable and enlightening.

The sharing of knowledge among all partners was founded on a communal understanding of the context and complexities therein. As black and brown researchers, we did not need to ‘experience [our] being through others’ (Fanon, 1986, p.82), we were able to direct the project from the ‘scholarship of black and indigenous peoples’ (Noxolo, 2017, p.318). There were challenges; complex colonial/post-colonial behaviours, working collegiately as members of the diaspora and the local, and power dynamics in research leadership and fund management. This necessitated a dismantling of colonial power structures/behaviours and a negotiation of roles that played to each individual’s strengths.

We suggest that the new relationships we experienced succeeded due to our mutual consciousness and a ‘shift away from the dreams of mastery’ (Mbembe, 2015).

Higher Education, Internationalisation, and SDG 4.7: Current Realities and Future Possibilities

Sarah R. Asada, Kyoritsu Women's University; Rita Z. Nazeer-Ikeda, Waseda University; Diana Kartika, The University of Tokyo

This paper examines the role of the internationalisation of higher education (IHE) in the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, the paper addresses SDG 4 Target 7’s call for education to provide the knowledge and skills for all learners to promote ‘a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, appreciation of cultural diversity, and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development’. The IHE supports students’ academic and personal growth through international, intercultural, and global learning opportunities Yet, an updated framework that reflects current realities remains absent.

The paper draws upon a systemic literature review  of research on higher education, internationalisation, and sustainable development. The aim is to identify, evaluate, and synthesise existing research to create a framework to understand the internationalisation of higher education in SDG 4.7. Data collection focused on journal articles indexed in SCOPUS. A total of 299 journal articles were identified. Data analysis included close readings complimented by NVivo to identify themes and make connections between and among the data.

Findings show that IHE has moved beyond the historical dominance of physical international student mobility to diverse forms that transverse physical and digital spaces inside and outside the classroom. Innovation in IHE, the return to its roots of mutual understanding and peace, and expansion of digital international learning spaces accelerated by COVID-19 gives a preview of the future trajectory of IHE for SDG 4.7. The paper proposes a framework building upon Knight’s work on internationalisation by incorporating recent themes of comprehensive internationalisation, international for society, inclusive internationalisation, and internationalisation at a distance. By doing so, the paper hopes to guide future research and insights in understanding if and how IHE is moving towards leaving no one behind and contributing to SDG 4.7.

Durable and Just Partnership for Equitable and Quality Education in the Global South: The global-Local Education Policy dialectic in education policy

Marcina Singh, Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Yusuf Sayed, University of Sussex; Gunjan Sharma, Dr B R Ambedkar University, Delhi, India; Abdi Rahman, Puntland Development and Research Centre, Somalia and the Centre for International Teacher Education, South Africa; Lynne Johns, Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Muctar Hersi, PDRC, Somalia; Jal Paul, Plan International, Ethiopia; Bang Choul, University of Gambella, Ethiopia; Aditi Desai, University of Sussex, UK and the Centre for International Teacher Education, South Africa; Ashika Sharma, University of Sussex

The impact and influence of macro global policy advocated by and through multi-lateral organisations on local practices cannot be understated. Views of organisations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO, IMF, OECD and the World Bank has become the blueprint and foundational to many (education) policies worldwide, but more specifically in the Global South, where countries require rapid social, economic and political transformation. As King (2007) astutely notes, these multilateral organisations play a vital role “in designing the architecture” for the policy agenda (p,377). The influence of these International Organisations are particularly evident in the education sector, where policies such as the Millennium Development Goals which evolved into the currently prevailing Sustainable Development Goals and Education for All has been etched into most countries’ education agenda and education policy landscape. Adopting the views of multilateral organisations into local policies has also given credence and credibility to these policies as well as to the states, resulting in funding opportunities and entry into a global fraternity of like-minded groups. This symposia discusses the effects of this influence on the governance and curriculum in selected African states. As such, this symposia consists of three papers that demonstrate the effect of global macro policy on the local experiences of teachers and learners in the Global South. The first paper, presented by Yusuf Sayed & Gunjan Sharma highlights how multilateral organisations position themselves as architects of global education policy by saturating and dominating the (education) policy space with its views and agenda and the implications. The second paper, presented by Aditi Desai & Abdi Rahman, looks at the experiences of teaching and learning in conflict areas of Somalia and Ethiopia, how global policies are localised and how it manifests in practice. The symposia concludes with a presentation by Marcina Singh and Lynne Johns, that discusses how public-private partnerships have evolved in South Africa after the call for “strengthened partnerships” at the 1990 Jomtien, with a particular focus on the experience of teachers. The findings of the papers presented here speak to the global-local dialectic in policy and the implications for the state and how this global-local dialectic shape and reshapes the work of teachers, and their the ability to provide equitable and quality learning for all.

Paper 1: UNESCO: Promising Education Multilateralism?
Authors: Yusuf Sayed (Presenter), Gunjan Sharma (20 minutes)
Drawing on a review of primary and secondary literature, this paper examines the intellectual trajectory of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) educational agenda over nearly eight decades of its existence. Tracing this evolution in four interrelated phases and critically interrogating significant education reports produced by UNESCO, this paper examines its functioning as part of the international global architecture for education development and as part of the field of global policy, in general, and education policy. The article charts how over time UNESCO’s image also changed to becoming an entity positioned as an evidence broker and monitoring agency. The analysis of UNESCO points to the need for a better understanding of how global education policy is shaped and reshaped across and between actors within the international development field and how positioning for hegemonic power discursively constitutes the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the global education agenda.

Paper 2: The Teaching and learning experiences of teachers and learners in Ethiopia and Somalia
Authors: Abdi Rahman (Presenter), Muctar Hersi, Jal Paul, Bang Choul, Aditi Desai, Ashika Sharma, Massimo Alone, Yusuf Sayed
(20 minutes)
This paper presents an empirically grounded account of the learning experiences of teachers and learners, who are displaced by conflict in Ethiopia and Somalia. It will also shed light on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the teaching and learning experiences of marginalised and vulnerable learners, intensifying and exacerbating inequalities in crises affected contexts. By building a careful and nuanced empirical account of the programme, influence by global macro policy, and the political economy context in which schools operate, the study aims to enhance national and global dialogues about strategies to increase access to quality education in conflict-affected contexts. The paper suggests that quality teaching and learning for IDP(internationally displaced persons) and refugee children are strongly contoured by learners’ and teachers’ experiences and context.

Paper 3: Teachers’ experiences of public-private partnerships in South Africa: Experiences from rural and urban schools in the Western Cape Province
Authors: Marcina Singh (Presenter) and Lynne Johns (20 minutes)

Public Private Partnerships (PPP) has been heralded as the solution to the states inability to provide good quality education to the poorest communities. Whilst PPP’s have been around for several decades, such as the Charter schools in the USA and the Academies in the UK, in South Africa and particularly the Western Cape province the approach is relatively new. The mid-decade review of the Jomtien 1990, held in 1996 noted that “As governments seek ways to decentralize responsibility for education, equalize educational opportunities, and raise more funds, they need strong and innovative allies”(p,2). Further to this, the World Bank (2019) echoes this by arguing that “Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be a tool to get more quality infrastructure services to more people. When designed well and implemented in a balanced regulatory environment, PPPs can bring greater efficiency and sustainability to the provision of public services such as energy, transport, telecommunications, water, healthcare, and education. PPPs can also allow for better allocation of risk between public and private entities.” However, very little is known about teachers’ experiences of teaching and learning within this form of education governance and even less is understood about how this form of governance promotes the affective dimension of schooling and education. The paper suggests, through speaking to teachers, that whilst much emphasis is placed on improving the quality of education through the improvement of learner performance, the lack of emphasis on promoting the values of citizenship and social cohesion suggests that PPP schools adopt a market-oriented approach to education, which has implications for equity, equality, and social justice.

Effective Partnership and Collaboration Among Different Functionaries Towards Shared Governance for Improving Schools and Schooling Experiences of Children in India: Empirical Evidences from a Participatory Action Research

Madhumita Bandyopadhyay, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, India

India has been consistently striving towards improving the governance of school education to ensure better functioning of schools and for improving children's participation as well as learning outcomes. Many studies have emphasized on the 'meaningful access' of children, which is not only determined by the quantitative expansion of education but also by the qualitative expansion which considerably impacts on children’s regular attendance, learning, retention, transition and school completion. Education policies in India have stressed on quantitative and qualitative expansion of education which warrants for development and sustenance of a strong educational management system involving different stakeholders at the different administrative levels. With this backdrop, drawing references from a recent participatory action research conducted in six Indian states, the paper discusses different issues involved in schooling access and participation of children at the elementary level. The paper throws light on how various initiatives jointly taken by different functionaries could help selected government schools to improve their functioning ensuring effective participation of children enrolled in these schools. It will also reflect on specific actions taken during and post COVID-19 for educating these children. Finally, the paper recommends appropriate steps for further improvement of school governance, in the specific contexts of these schools which in turn will improve children’s school participation and learning outcomes.
This paper is based on a comparative study of different collaborative and collective initiatives taken by sub-national level government functionaries, school heads and teachers in different states, as a part of a participatory action research. Thus, the paper would be more connected to the main theme of the conference rather than any specific sub-theme making it appropriate for the 'open theme' category.

The ‘support web’ of the Deaf Education in Sri Lanka : Now and beyond

Thilanka Wijesinghe, University of Cambridge and University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

The ‘residential Deaf schools’, originated in 1912 as an derivative of the colonial regimes are the educational settings for the ‘Deaf’ or the ‘profoundly hearing impaired’ student populations in Sri Lanka. In the post-colonial era, even though grouped under the non-formal education category, labelled as ‘government-assisted schools’ and provided with less than usual state support, and associated with ‘low academic achievement’ following the similar Deaf education trend in the global South (Knoors, Brons & Marschark, 2019), these educational institutions continues to hold ground and remain as long standing formal educational service providers to the Deaf communities in the country. The support for these schools are generically associated with the ‘local government’ and ‘non-government, religious organizations’.
In an exploratory mixed methods study on literacy skills acquisition of Deaf students in the Sri Lanka, the theme on ‘supports for the Deaf schools’ was explored by engaging with key educational stakeholders comprising 16 Deaf school principals/head teachers and 61 primary, Deaf school teachers by using self-administered questionnaires and twelve telephone interviews.
The findings on ‘supports for the Deaf schools’, informed of an array of formal and informal support partnerships through an assortment of support ‘sources’ and myriad ‘types’ of supports received at the classroom and the school level, changing the initial simplistic binary view of supports and partnerships associated with these Deaf schools. The pandemic related contextual influences and key changes in the supports and partnerships of the Deaf schools were also identified. As implications of this exploration, while acknowledging the value of existing supports and partnerships, and employing the empirical findings as a basis, recommendations and pointers for sharpening the ‘equitable and sustainable Deaf education’ in the Sri Lankan context will be discussed.

Working in partnership with local stakeholders to support learner-centred teaching in the new Zambian curriculum

Lore Gallastegi, Kris Stutchbury, Fiona Henry, Clare Woodward and Mark Gaved, The Open University

From 2017, The Open University (UK) and World Vision (Zambia) have developed a model of School-Based Continuous Professional Development (SBCPD) for primary teachers. The Zambian Education School-based Training (ZEST) programme supports the implementation of the revised curriculum and policies for SBCPD.

Zambia has established structures and roles in place to support SBCPD through Teacher Group Meetings, School and Zonal In-service Coordinators and District and Province support teams. However there is a lack of resources to foster professional discussions around teaching and learning the regular Teacher Group Meetings.  Using an iterative co-design process, ZEST has developed online resources, which are being used in over 400 schools in Central Province and are freely available, to support active teaching and learning in Africa.

Through collaboration with local province, district and zonal officials as well as school leaders and teachers, ZEST has collected stories of the impact that collaborative planning of teaching activities; peer support and observation; and teacher reflection, have had on learners and education professionals. With contributions from practitioners in the participating schools and districts, this poster offers a representation of how the partnership between the Open University (UK), World Vision (Zambia), education officials and teachers has matured developing each participants’ skills and competences to contribute to successful SBCPD and achieve more learner-centred teaching in schools in Zambia.

Student Teachers’ Internship Teaching Expectations and Experiences in China: Through the Lens of Gender

Kaining (Helen) Chen, University of Edinburgh

Identifying a literature gap addressing student teachers’ internship expectations and experiences regarding gender in China, this research strived to explore and interpret a university’s English language student teachers’ teaching expectations and experiences through gender lens during a three-month high school internship in South China. Employing semi-structured in-depth interviews and reflective accounts, a qualitative case study of 7 participants was completed and two major findings emerged: First, the participants typically expected and experienced teaching concerning collaborations with peers and mentors. As suggested by Rigelman and Ruben (2012), the effectiveness of peer collaboration relied heavily on the degree of empathy and mutual trust between student teachers. Specifically, the peers’ emotional support between many participants (4) based on mutual trust and understanding were found to be effective buffering emotional exhaustion during the teaching internship, which paralleled Voss and Kunter’s (2020) research findings with a group of German secondary mathematics teacher candidates. In addition, most participants (5) conceptualised their collaboration with mentors in relation to professional adequacy development. As believed by Bullough (2015), mentors’ feedback during teaching collaboration facilitated and accelerated some participants’ (3) focus shift from their own behaviour to student learning in the classroom. However, the unequal power relationship between the mentor and the student teacher also led to a loss of individuality and autonomy in one participant’s teaching practice. Second, gender differences were found when participants conceptualised interactions with students. In particular, a task-people difference was identified regarding student progress that males concentrated on problem-solving strategies whilst females focused more on interpersonal relationships. Results of this research suggest a need to consider English language student teachers’ teaching expectations and experiences in respect of gender characteristics when preparing them for and supporting them through teaching internships in a high school context in China.

Reconceptualising knowledge production in Higher Education research through collaborative collaging

Mitali Dutta; Joy Cranham; Hannah Hogarth, University of Bath

In this paper we will present collaborative collaging as an innovative form of knowledge production. We would like to share our ongoing and emerging story as a collective partnership which began a couple of years ago when we were working from home and conceptualising ways to understand commonalities between ours and others’ research into child/hoods using visual and verbal snapshots to share insights from our research. Collaborative collaging emerged as a method of knowledge creation (Cranham et.al. 2022) and continues with our ongoing praxis including workshops at several educational research conferences and events where relational childhoods and adulthoods were explored.

A collage brings together different stories into an emerging picture - complex, dynamic and messy. Inspired by contemporary relationships with technology and based on multi-sensory experiences, collaging stimulates emergent, embodied, material knowledge-creation. Collaging is a participatory and collaborative methodology where the outcome is undetermined and assemblages of materials give rise to non-hierarchical, holistic and non-linear ways of knowing. In these practices we are resisting accelerated modes of knowledge production which dominate neoliberal systems of higher education (Mountz, 2015) and make space for a feminist collaborative creative deceleration enabling care for self,  becomings and matterings (Taylor, 2020). As Culshaw (2019) notes, “...alternative approaches such as collage can upset our assumptions, making the familiar seem uncomfortably strange”.

Drawing on empirical data from our ongoing praxis, we would like to reimagine education as a tool for producing multiple ways of knowing rather than a mechanism for transferring knowledge, thereby dismantling traditional hierarchies.  Collaborative collaging is a relational, generative process of slow scholarship which we would like to take forward as a post humanist feminist pedagogy (Taylor 2016). This approach has the potential to be utilised in multiple educational contexts - locally and internationally - offering ways for more just, inclusive and ethical research and practice.



Cranham, J., Dutta, M., Hogarth, H., Boukhari, S., Govaerts, F., Neiada, E., & Krayem, M. (2022).  Collaging childhoods’ relationships, BERA Blog Publications.  https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/collaging-childhoods-relationships

Culshaw, S. (2019) ‘The unspoken power of collage? Using an innovative arts-based research method to explore the experience of struggling as a teacher’. London Review of Education, 17 (3): 268–283.

Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Loyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., Basu, R., Whitson, R., Hawkins, R., Hamilton, T. and Curran, W., 2015. For slow scholarship: A feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4), pp.1235-1259.

Taylor, C., 2016. Edu-crafting a cacophonous ecology: Posthumanist research practices for education. In: C. Taylor and C. Hughes, eds. Posthuman research practice in education. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 5-24.

Taylor, C.A., 2020. Slow singularities for collective mattering: new material feminist praxis in the accelerated academy. Irish Educational Studies, 39(2), pp.255-272.

Sustainable development needs system thinking, but how to achieve it?

Thomas Hoffmann, Leuphana University, Germany; Sanskriti Menon, Centre for Environment Education, Pune, India; Wendy Morel, Humboldt University, Germany

According to UNESCO´s conviction, systems competence is one out of eight key competences which should be developed by each individual learner in the context of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Within these eight key competences systems competence has an extraordinary meaning for ESD because it creates the conditions to perceive and understand environmental-societal interrelations and contributes strongly to the development of all the other seven key competences. Though there is a long tradition of systems learning and competence development (e.g. Meadows Rempfler/Uphues 2011; Fögele/Mehren/Rempfler 2020) a concise and interculturally designed learning course to develop the intended systems competence in the context of sustainable development is missing.

The aim of the creative session is to fill this gap by introducing a way how to achieve systems competence of the learners by following ten subsequent steps of teaching. Each step focuses on a specific aspect of the intended systems competence such as perceiving daily use items and recognize them as element(s) of more or less complex systems, the design of concept maps as the visualization of systems or the identification of leverage points to change systems in the sense of sustainable development, just to name a few.

To enable the learners to cope with the challenges of the singles steps, each of these learning units is combined with suggestions for supporting learning methods. By means of two examples (Jeans and Chips) the participants will gain an insight into the adaptation of the theoretical based learning course ten steps towards systems thinking. This learning course has been developed interculturally by the international think tank on ESD “ESD Expert Net”. The learning course considers the demands of the educational systems in Mexico, South Africa, India and Germany.

Within the interactive phase of the creative session, the participants will identify suitable topics for an own systems thinking learning course. The suitability of the suggested topics will be discussed commonly with all participants. On the base of this discussion, the participants will develop a rough sketch of their individually chosen topic through the ten steps towards systems thinking. A final discussion and a general reflection on the suggested learning course will round up the workshop.

The creative session of 90 minutes is divided into four sections:

Introduction into the 10 steps towards Systems Thinking. During this section, the participants will know how are these ten steps integrates and how it can be applied.
Adapting the learning course along an example.
Identification of suitable topics – The participants will work in small groups and define a suitable topic to apply with the ten steps.
Final discussion / reflection on 10 steps Towards Systems Thinking

At the end of the creative session, the participants will be able to identify suitable topics and have a general idea how to design a concise learning course for the development of systems thinking competence

Thomas Hoffman teaches geography, history, political sciences and economy at Windeck-Gymnasium in Bühl, he also works as Head of Geography Department at the Teacher Training Center Karlsruhe,  he is a Honorary Professor for ESD at Leuphana University in Lüneburg as well as Lecturer for Geography Didactics at Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT).

Sanskriti Menon is Senior Programme Director, Centre for Environment Education, and is based in Pune, India. She anchors CEE’s Urban Programmes and is involved in a range of urban issues including mobility, waste, ecosystems, and climate change. Sanskriti’s main interest in Systems Thinking is facilitating multi-stakeholder processes that enhance systems understanding and collaborative action for sustainability in the context of collaborating governance systems.

Wendy has worked in formal education in Mexico for more than 20 years. Currently, she is carrying out her doctoral research at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in the field of ESD.

All the facilitators are members of the working group “Developing learning materials” within the ESD Expert Net.


Meadows, Donella H. (2008): Thinking in Systems London

Rempfler, A. & Uphues, R. (2011). Systemkompetenz im Geographieunterricht: Die Entwicklung eines Kompetenzmodells. In C. Meyer  (Hrsg.), Geographische Bildung: Kompetenzen in Forschung und Praxis. Gemeinsames Symposium des GEI und HGD, (S. 36‐48). Braunschweig: Westermann.

Fögele, J., Mehren, R. & Rempfler, A. (2020): Tipping Points – Schlüssel zum tiefgründigen Verständnis komplexer dynamischer Systeme auf Seiten von Schülern? Zeitschrift für Geographiedidaktik. 48 (3), 83‐100.

Hoffmann, T., Menon, S., Morel, W., Nkosi, T., Pape, N. (2022) Ten Steps towards Systems Thinking – An Education for Sustainable Development Manual for teachers, educators, and facilitators. Centre for Environment Education. India.  https://esd-expert.net/teaching-and-learning-materials.html

SDG 4 and the Construction of Knowledge

Clara Fontdevila, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and University of Glasgow; William C. Smith, University of Edinburgh; Sotiria Grek, University of Edinburgh; Elaine Unterhalter, University College London

Symposium Summary:

This 90-minute symposium explores how and what knowledge is constructed, with a focus on the creation and implications of SDG 4. The construction of SDG 4 has been regarded by some as one of the most inclusive, consultative processes in UNESCO history. In bringing together voices across a variety of sectors, the early dialogue and discourse that built up to SDG 4 illustrates the challenges of consensus making. Collaborative attempts to bring together actors with various perspectives provided some moments of hope, next to regular fragmentation and competition. The three papers presented in this panel examine the decision-making journey that led to the formulation of SDG 4, how the understanding of quality and inclusion has changed over the formulation and implementation process, and how non-knowledge is understood and constructed, in SDG 4 and through other examples from international organisations.

The symposium will consist of three presentations of 15 minutes each followed by a 10-minute discussant. This will leave approximately 30 minutes for open discussion.


Clara Fontdevila, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona/University of Glasgow
William C. Smith, University of Edinburgh
Sotiria Grek, University of Edinburgh
Elaine Unterhalter, University College London (Discussant)

Paper Abstracts:

‘Not the destination but the journey’: Competing decision-making structures in the formulation of SDG 4

Clara Fontdevila, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona/University of Glasgow

The advent of SDG4 put an end to the duality of education agendas that had characterized the prior decade as a result of the coexistence of two separate goal sets –the Education for All (EFA) goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Crafting SDG4 thus meant, in practice, combining the decision-making procedures specific to the EFA architecture with the myriad of negotiation processes set in motion within UN circles as a continuation of the MDGs. This proved a challenging endeavor, for it required finding common ground between different normative assumptions and expectations on the legitimate locus of power. Thus, some of the major persistent disagreements that emerged during the making of SDG4 did not revolve around the very content of the targets – but on the decision-making structures and deliberation scripts on which their negotiation relied. Drawing on a corpus of 99 interviews with key negotiators of the SDG4 agenda, this paper analyzes some of the key issues around which such tensions crystallized. The presentation hence systematizes the main sources of divergence that riddled the process, and identifies a number of consensus-building mechanisms that proved key in the emergence of a unified architecture and the harmonization of competing demands – namely, role-blurring, delegation and nesting.


Inclusion as Quality? Inclusion or Quality? – A look at SDG 4

William C. Smith, University of Edinburgh

Three main concepts are including in the overarching aim of SDG 4 – “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” – (1) inclusive, (2) equitable, and (3) quality. Whether these are treated as separate components or necessary for, and thus indistinguishable from, each other has significant ramifications for how education plays out in practice. Reviewing documents from key meetings the fed into the development of the Sustainable Development Goal for education, this research explores how quality and inclusion were defined and related in these precursory meetings. The formalization of SDG 4 in 2015 appeared to mark a milestone in inclusive education – transitioning from a narrow movement focused solely on special education to a broader recognition that barriers are present and must be removed for a wide range of learners. Unfortunately, as the principle of inclusion in SDG 4 was put into practice, the big tent coalition and understanding of inclusion as quality appears to have broken down. Results suggest that renewed efforts are needed to move beyond competing agendas and re-center inclusion at the heart of quality.

Constructing known un-knowns: International Organisations and the strategic making of non-knowledge

Sotiria Grek, University of Edinburgh

Although scholarship has devoted a lot of attention to statistical knowledge production by organisations like the OECD, the World Bank, UNESCO and many others, we know far less about parallel processes of construction of ‘non-knowledge’. This article’s focus is on the enactment of ‘non-knowledge’ in the governance of education and well-being; or, in other words, the strategic prioritization of certain knowledge versus other. Specifically, through a focus on two empirical examples (including one from SDG 4), the paper examines the construction of non-knowledge as an essential part of the measurement process: rather than the opposite of knowledge however, or its reading as a binary, the paper views the construction of both knowledge and non-knowledge as a symbiotic relationship, necessary for balancing out and achieving equilibrium of the metrological field.

Equity for Women in STEM Subjects: Empowering Graduates in Engineering from Ethiopian Universities

Jerusalem Yibeltal Yizengaw, Bahir Dar University; Ricardo Sabates, University of Cambridge

Women graduates of STEM subjects continue to face social and economic challenges in the labour market in many countries in the Global South. This is particularly the case in Ethiopia, where women make up a minority of STEM graduates and they transition into a labour market mostly dominated by men. Yet, there is limited evidence of the processes linking completion of higher education with employment opportunities for female graduates of STEM subjects. Using mixed methods data collected from 161 engineering graduates, 18 employers, 16 lecturers through pilot-tested questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, this paper finds that female graduates spend significant time in job searching activities (more than their male counterpart) and are more likely to find employment in the public sector. Additionally, the support offered by higher education institutions varies, yet it is limited in terms of being gender sensitive. Overall, higher education institutions should create partnerships with potential employers to remove the barriers that limit the possibilities of female graduates of STEM subjects to become economically active.

Keywords: Equity, Women, STEM, Empowerment, Graduates, Engineering, Ethiopia, University

Learning about language responsive teaching through Lesson Study in Malawi

Lisnet Mwadzaangati, University of Malawi; Jill Adler, University of Witwatersrand

Lesson Study (LS) is a new professional development (PD) practice in Malawi and has mainly been conducted with primary school mathematics educators. We (University teacher educator-researchers) invited secondary school teachers from two schools to participate in a collaborative PD including workshops and LS on geometry teaching, a mathematical area recognised as a challenge by both Malawi government and the teachers. During first cycle of  LS, as first step in the PD, we ran a two-day workshop where we (a) oriented teachers to exemplification, explanatory communication, and learner participation as a framework of key teaching practices to support and enable planning, observing and reflecting on lessons, (b) oriented teachers to the process of conducting LS. Included in this process was the identification of a geometry teaching and learning challenge they would like to study, the use of the framework to plan a research lesson, teach and reflect on the lesson enactment, and then replan, teach and reflect on this second revised lesson. Analysis of the transcribed lessons, lesson planning and reflection sessions indicated that while teachers expanded their example sets through the cycle, their planning for and reflection on enabling learner participation through extending communication, what is more aptly described as ‘language responsive teaching’, was more challenging. To facilitate linking this work to a focus for the second LS cycle, we developed tasks for learners who participated in first LS cycle to prompt geometric thinking related to the lessons they experienced. In this paper, we will explore what and how teachers learned about language responsive teaching from analysing their ‘post-lesson’ learners’ responses, and critically reflect on the possibilities this ‘step’ offers to the ufolding process of collaborative PD through LS.

Collaborating with the State as a New Mode of Operation within the Global Education Industry: The Case of Public-Philanthropic Partnerships in Teacher Education

Benedict Kurz, University of Bielefeld, Germany

In the last few years, we have seen the rise of a new and globalised industry sector focusing on education (Verger et al. 2016, Thompson & Parreira do Amaral 2019). One crucial feature of this Global Education Industry (GEI) is its new mix of players. Within the GEI, philanthropic foundations have emerged as influential actors. Currently, they are shaping national education systems around the world, most prominently by successfully lobbying for policies (Au & Lubienski 2016, Tarlau & Moeller 2020) and convening influential stakeholders (Ridge 2019). In line with the logics of the economy of scale, the collaboration with the state, e.g. by forging public-private partnerships (Robertson et al. 2012, Steiner-Khamsi & Draxler 2018), has emerged as one of their preferred modes of operation.

Another feature of the GEI is the penetration of new market niches, for instance, teacher education (Verger et al. 2016). Since teacher CPD, the continuous professional development of teachers, is not only a potential new market for products and services, but also an easily accessible fast-track policy tool to disseminate ideas and beliefs, it has become a new focus point for the GEI. At the moment, public-philanthropic partnerships around the world are shaping teacher CPD.

This cooperation between corporate philanthropy and state entities not only changes the GEI landscape, but also draws attention to the question of how the public sector reacts to this development and what the implications for the teaching profession might be.

In my presentation, I will outline these developments in more detail as well as present the current stage of my research. In my PhD project, I explore and compare two Public-Philanthropic Partnerships which focus on teacher CPD: one by the Bosch Foundation and the other by the Varkey Foundation.

“Nepali Youth Power”: a social media analysis of youth organized earthquake response

Phoenix Kenney, University of Cambridge

This study gauges the impact youth mobilization had in a specific humanitarian context. Using social media as a digital archive, I observed the partnership between four youth-led NGOs in Nepal after the 2015 Gorkha earthquake.

A positive youth development (PYD) framework suggests potential for individual and collective growth through activities considered accessible and inclusive to a heterogeneous population of young people. In Nepal, there has been growing attention paid to young people as they make up the one-quarter to one-third of the national population. This ‘youth bulge’ demographic trend is one seen in other South Asian contexts and is often framed by population experts as a key opportunity for development if channeled through effective education and employment planning. Also informing this study is literature from other humanitarian contexts arguing youth vulnerability can become exacerbated if adult-led interventions fail to recognize young people as a distinct population with their unique needs during a crisis. My work provides an example of a youth-led and youth-centric humanitarian response.

I conducted virtual research from the UK and the USA from January to July 2020. The COVID-19 global pandemic presented certain challenges to conducting research at this time. Social media as a source of data offered a solution to overcoming lockdowns, significant time differences, connectivity issues, and language barriers. More so, this methodology is contextually relevant as social media sites – such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – are popular among youth organizations in Nepal and played an important role in post-earthquake communications.

This study maps social media data to show young people in Nepal were successful in self-organizing three distinct phases of earthquake recovery: immediate, intermediate, and long-term recovery activities. After triangulating participant-created social media content with peer reviewed and grey literature, I reveal a connection between youth self-organization and youth-centric policy making in Nepal. In conclusion, this study encourages youth inclusive disaster planning.

Evaluating Digital Personalised Learning in Kenya: an exploratory analysis of integrating an adaptive learning tool into classroom instruction

Rebecca Daltry, EdTech Hub, Jigsaw; Louis Major, University of Manchester, EdTech Hub; Katy Jordan, University of Cambridge, EdTech Hub; Mary Otieno, Kenyatta University, WERK; Kevin Otieno, WERK; Tom Kaye, EdTech Hub; Aidan Friedberg, EIDU

In the context of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), digital personalised learning (DPL) could play an important role in ensuring more inclusive and equitable access to education, through its potential to address a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to education (FitzGerald et al., 2018). The first meta-analysis of DPL in LMICs reveals how this can have a statistically significant positive impact on learning outcomes (0.18 effect size: Major et al., 2021). However, limited research has examined the effectiveness of DPL when integrated into classroom practice.

In this presentation, we report findings from the first phase of an innovative new design-based research study focusing on integrating DPL into Kenyan classrooms - part of a wider research partnership between EdTech Hub, Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK) and EIDU (a leading DPL provider). EIDU offers a DPL platform, deployed on low-cost Android devices in pre-primary and primary classrooms. The software facilitates adaptive assessment and measurement strategies, generating continuous insights into learning. In Kenya, this is aligned with a structured pedagogy programme (Tayari), enabling the integration of digital content with classroom instruction.

At present, we are working with a sample of up to 200 participants, including pre-primary learners, teachers, headteachers and early-childhood development officers. The six participating schools are located in urban and peri-urban districts of Mombasa, Kenya; these were purposively selected based on the number and size of PP1 and PP2 classes, mean usage of the DPL tool and locality. Data were collected via classroom observations and interviews/focus groups, and analysed through systematic coding and thematic analysis. We will share insights from this exploratory phase, drawing on the experiences of participants in using a DPL tool in this context. We also explore the pedagogic and technical challenges, and look towards implications for the next phase of the research partnership and the wider research field.

Complexity and Possibility in Risk Reduction Education in Informal Settlements

Helen Underhill, Manchester Metropolitan University

Forced displacement is at a global high, pushing more of the world’s population into informal living arrangements in settlements that are characterised by a range of hazards and risks, a significant but under-documented one of which is fire. This paper presents reflections from funded research (British Academy) that applied gendered understandings of risk to fire and burns education in informal settlements in Lebanon occupied by Syrian and Palestinian refugees. After briefly contextualising the significance of this specific research to the development and humanitarian sector(s) more broadly and educators specifically, the paper examines the complexities of designing, implementing and evaluating education programmes that focus on reducing risk and are shaped by people’s varying perceptions of that risk. Examples from Lebanon highlight the uneven nature of risk and, subsequently, offer points of entry for reflecting on how risk reduction education is imagined and implemented across the humanitarian response partnership.

Drawing on the Lebanese case, I will argue that complexity generates possibility but also requires critical engagement with and problematisation of the notion of education as intervention within the humanitarian sector. Through reflexive practice and engagement with critical and radical pedagogy and navigating the different perspectives of my research partners (the practitioner-expert, the INGO, the education specialist…), I consider the complexities of operationalising ideas of education and learning within disaster risk reduction programming, particularly in a sector that has historically been defined by the provision of visible and tangible goods and services. The paper highlights the messiness of creating and providing risk reduction education in humanitarian spaces, noting the parallel with debates of performativity and measurement that continue to guide formal schooling.

Learning through the UEA UNESCO Chair partnership

Kamal Raj Devkota, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Turuwark Zalalam Warkineh, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia; Abiy Menkir Gizaw, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia; Theresa Frey, University of East Anglia; Lauren Bouttel, University of East Anglia; Qingru Wang, University of East Anglia; Hélène Binesse, University of East Anglia; Burcu Evren, Ministry of Education,Turkey; Chris Millora, University of East Anglia; Gina Lontoc, University of Santo Tomas, The Philippines; James Bridge, UK National Commission for UNESCO; Yann Lebeau, University of East Anglia; Anna Robinson-Pant, University of East Anglia; Catherine Jere, University of East Anglia

Whilst partnerships in international education are designed to address global issues, it is also interesting to look at how they may stimulate their actors in their personal and professional development. This roundtable sets out to explore and share experiences of an alternative model for South-North collaboration from those usually established through externally funded research projects/programmes. The UNESCO Chair links universities in North and South to share expertise and co-create new knowledge to inform national and international policy – based on a shared theme but without any prior committed funding.

The UEA UNESCO Chair in adult literacy and learning for social transformation is a partnership with university departments specialising in adult literacy and community learning in Ethiopia (Bahir Dar University), Nepal (Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development), the Philippines (University of Santo Tomas), Malawi (University of Malawi) and Egypt (Ain Shams University). Through investigating how or why adult literacy might facilitate or respond to processes of social transformation, researchers have been working together since 2016 to strengthen qualitative research capacity. Regular meetings, virtual interactions and webinars have enabled academics to share stimulating discussions for collaboration and grow ideas for research.

This is an innovative cross countries and multiple partners collaboration including academic and non-academic institutions like UN agencies that has promoted significant contributions over the past year. A creative and stimulating space for early career researchers (ECRs) to initiate and/or engage in collaborative research that brings researchers, policy makers and practitioners together in discussions and forward thinking.

In this roundtable, allowing for free-flowing discussions between researchers from the UEA UNESCO Chair and videos, the presenters will share their experience of learning through the partnership’s dynamics, while underlining how this institution may contribute to their own transformation. Using participatory methods, presenters will bring an object that illustrates their transformation.

Reflections include:

Tribhuvan University Nepal faculty on capacity building for MA Education students through UNESCO Chair research projects,
Bahir Dar University Ethiopia faculty on capacity building for early career researchers
(including UNESCO Chair team members),
UEA PhD and ECRs on how this partnership is a synonym for collaborative learning beyond their study,
University of Santo Tomas (UST) on roles and responsibilities of the researchers, participants, partner organisations and local government units involved in the family literacy project,
UK National Commission for UNESCO Chief Executive and UEA Chairholder on the process of developing a UNESCO Chair partnership and being part of the national and global network, within the multilateral UNESCO framework.

The discussion will also call on panel members to share their experience on challenges and opportunities in collaborative research project consisting of a multi-country partnership and navigating differing understandings and ways of decolonising bureaucratic literacy practices – including through South-South collaborations.

Decolonial and feminist writing workshop for Early Career Researchers

Eva Bulgrin, WWU Münster, Germany; Gunjan Wadhwa, Brunel University, London

Making time for writing in academia remains challenging. As initial studies have shown (Viglione, 2020), it is especially difficult for young female researchers in the current context of the pandemic, with sharp inequalities in knowledge production often at the expense of researchers in and from the global South. This contrasts with the requirement, particularly for early-career researchers (ECRs), to publish fast and in high-ranking journals to 'develop' and 'sustain' in academia.

Our workshop for ECRs takes up the conference theme of ‘Partnerships in education: collaboration, co-operation and co-optation’ to offer a shared and collective space for writing and reflecting. More specifically, we draw on the ‘public-private’ aspects of partnership and collaboration to re-conceptualise it as internal and outreach writing (Connell, 2015). Following Connell (2015, p. 12), '[a]ny research effort needs different kinds of writing, each requiring skill and judgment. It's only by combining all of them that a project is brought to fruition.' Borrowing from her, we aim to introduce participants to two types of writing: internal and outreach writing, engaging creatively with the private and the public self in academic writing (Hunt, 2013).

In taking up of our ‘selves’, we focus on the fluidity and ‘dynamic’ of writing to challenge the fixity of the social world through our work and research in education. Guided firmly by a feminist framework, enriched through post- and decolonial studies, our interest in this workshop lies in the (re)claiming and foregrounding of the ‘I’ or self to acknowledge writing as personal as well as political. By critically reflecting on the centrality of power, researcher positionality and language in writing and ‘doing’ of research, our aim is to understand and discuss the inseparability of the researcher from the writing and the im/possibilities and un/certainties of capturing truth (Wadhwa, 2021).
Approach and schedule
As ECRs ourselves, we conceptualise the workshop as a shared, collective and collaborative space to feel inspired, write, and talk about writing practices, within and beyond academia. We think collaboratively and write generatively from a feminist, post- and decolonial perspective (Ashcroft et al., 1995; Danvers et al., 2019; Griffiths & Tiffin, 2003; Richardson, 2001). The 90-minute workshop will provide balanced input, time to write and reflect, space to exchange, and cover a combination of academic and creative writing techniques for internal and outreach writing.

We begin the writing workshop with sharing and reflections from our own work and research, informed by post-colonial, decolonial and feminist understandings. Here, we tease out the complexities of writing and shaping our work and research as feminist inquiry, followed by a group conversation. We then move to introducing internal or summative writing techniques and create a dedicated writing space for the participants to work on new or existing writing projects. The workshop concludes by offering space for peer feedback and exchange in small groups to encourage ongoing conversation about writing, throughout the BAICE Conference, and afterwards.

30 min

Sharing and reflections on postcolonial, decolonial and feminist writing

Group conversation

30 min
Introducing internal/ summative writing and exercises

Followed by 25 minutes of writing

30 min
Providing space for peer feedback in small groups

Wrapping up

Our contribution
At the end of the workshop, participants will have been introduced to and experienced different forms of writing steered by postcolonial, decolonial and feminist frameworks. They will have produced some form of writing and received peer feedback on how to develop their writing further. Most importantly, they will have considered how to engage creatively with academic writing and topics, demonstrated in the creative handling of the ‘public and private’ conference themes. Overall, the workshop will contribute towards shaping of emergent feminist inquiries by encouraging future partnerships and collaborations around writing in comparative and international education.
Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (1995). The post-colonial studies reader (B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths, & H. Tiffin (eds.)). Routledge.

Connell, R. (2015). Writing for research strategies. Research Strategies, 1–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0734-3310(97)90002-1

Danvers, E., Hinton-Smith, T., & Webb, R. (2019). Power, pedagogy and the personal: feminist ethics in facilitating a doctoral writing group. Teaching in Higher Education, 24(1), 32–46. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2018.1456423

Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (2003). Empire Writes Back : Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. Taylor & Francis Group. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/suss/detail.action?docID=4976913

Hunt, C. (2013). Transformative Learning Through Creative Life Writing : Exploring the Self in the Learning Process.

Richardson, L. (2001). Getting personal: Writing-stories. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 14(1), 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/09518390010007647

Viglione, G. (2020). Are women publishing less during the pandemic? Here's what the data say. Nature, 581(7809), 365–366. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-01294-9

Wadhwa, G. (2021). Ethics of positionality in capturing Adivasi youth ‘voices’ in a village community in India. In Spencer, G. (2021) (Ed.) Ethics and Integrity in Research with Children and Young People (Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity, Vol. 7, pp. 89-103). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2398-601820210000007011

Ibali: co-creating learning spaces in and through storytelling research activities

Alison Buckler, The Open University, UK; Jennifer Agbaire, The Open University, UK; Joanna Wheeler, Transformative Story, UK


Using storytelling to understand how people make sense of their world is increasingly presented as a tool for providing richer insights into international education and development challenges. Advocates claim that it is inclusive, flattens hierarchies of power within research, connects elements of a situation, is enjoyable, therapeutic, sparks personal, social and political change, aligns with indigenous ontologies, exposes and challenges majority narratives and lifts research out of exclusionary academic spaces to engage wider publics. However, storytelling research also carries risks in relation to participant and facilitator well-being and the reproduction of static and potentially problematic ways of knowing. In this creative session at BAICE 2022, we aim to highlight and generate insights into this creative research approach.

We are a collective of academics and practitioners with extensive experience of leading and co-facilitating storytelling research projects, including our current AHRC-funded study that uses storytelling to explore commonalities and differences of how inclusion and exclusion are experienced across education systems in South Africa, Nigeria and the UK, combined with a critical, ethnographic evaluation of the storytelling research process. The study aims to understand how storytelling could be better and more ethically used in research, especially when working across socio-political and geographic boundaries.

Relevance to BAICE 2022

Our session will draw on two key features of our work that connect to the conference theme of “Partnerships in Education”. The first is our multi-country make-up as a collective of researchers from South Africa, Nigeria and the UK, and our experiences of working together to develop ideas around storytelling research.  In this respect our proposed session aligns with the subtheme “Experiencing Education Partnerships”. The second feature is the positioning of our work within a capability and sociocultural framing that draws on Etienne Wenger’s conceptualisation of learning as a participatory process of becoming. The conceptual notion of partnerships in research is also aligned with sociocultural understandings of learning in a collective such as ours which Boaventura de Sousa Santos refers to as a ‘translational contact zone’ involving the meeting, exchange, contestation and assimilation of ideas and knowledges from multiple cultural codes. It further ties into our storytelling approach itself which builds on our collaborator Joanna Wheeler’s work and focuses on lived experiences developed through an iterative group process.  Crucially, our approach views storymaking and storytelling as sociocultural activities – that is, as collaborative processes, even when the story is inherently personal. The iterative process of story generation around a specific issue is part of a process of articulating one’s own identity in relation to this issue but at the same time, through the collective process, gaining insights into how these experiences relate to wider trends. Here too our work strongly aligns with the “Experiencing Education Partnerships” sub-theme, with its emphasis on personal and collective experiences of learning: in our storytelling research, partnership is framed as co-creation of knowledge through a group process.

Our session

We propose a 90-minute workshop designed to give participants an opportunity to use a series of creative techniques that are similar to those we use in in-depth storytelling processes. In taking a learning-by-doing approach, we intend for the session to generate reflections on the use of storytelling as a research approach, how creative techniques reflect different sociocultural understandings, and what a translational contact zone feels like in practice. These issues are especially relevant given a growing interest in working collaboratively across contexts.

Participants will be invited to join at least two interactive storymaking activities involving image association, telling stories from images, developing comic strips and making storycubes. Facilitators and participants will work together to engage in these fun, art-based exercises which incorporate story elements of character, place, and emotion to surface the different ways that we interpret images and how we put these into a story. We will also screen two digital stories produced through our previous research, to help inform the overall discussion about the methodology.


Overall, we are passionate about storytelling research and are particularly drawn to its collaborative nature. However, we recognise that more critical work needs to be done to support researchers to engage in storytelling research processes – and storytelling research partnerships - that are more epistemologically, geo-politically and ethically informed. This is crucial when working across contexts and more so, under the banner of so-called ‘development’ work – under which much international education research currently sits. In this session we aim to bring the core conversations that underpin our critical storytelling research study to the BAICE community, with the intention of enriching and furthering these conversations alongside fun and interactive practical activities.

International/local research relationships: challenges and issues in researching teachers’ professional development around the world

Saraswati Dawadi, The Open University, UK; Dario Banegas, University of Edinburgh; Bart Crisp, Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE); Yusuf Mohamed Sayed, University of Sussex

Research evidence is key to developing effective responses to educational challenges. When international agencies are involved, internationally accessible research often forms an important part of the research evidence that is drawn on. However, when working in specific countries, research from within that context is sometimes not easily accessible. While international collaborations can bring benefits of funding and experience, lack of research embedded within the context, drawing on deep understandings of educational culture and practice, can lead to disconnections when interventions are planned and implemented.

This symposium seeks to explore issues related to research in the continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers and relationships between the globalised research community and research conducted within countries not normally included in that global community (e.g. in Overseas Development Aid (ODA)-eligible countries). We will have three short presentations on the topic from researchers from Nepal, Argentina and the UK. These provide a starting point to consider the multiple issues through a wider panel discussion.

The three presentations will last 30 minutes in total, providing perspectives on the topic from the different contexts. The chaired panel discussion will include the three presenters and another panel member who will represent views from South Africa, answering questions and discussing with the audience.

Presentation 1: Bart Crisp will discuss an evidence review conducted by the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE) for the British Council into the topic of effective CPD in ODA-eligible countries. This project consisted of an umbrella review (Aromataris et al. 2015) of evidence about teacher CPD programmes from around the world. The project’s foci were:

understanding whether new evidence would require an update of the previous reviews of research reviews in this field (Cordingley et al. 2015, Cordingley et al. 2020), and
exploring the scope of evidence about the design and impact of teacher CPD in ODA-eligible countries.

In collaboration with colleagues at the British Council, the team structured the scope, research questions, data synthesis and reporting approach. The literature search focused on identifying high quality reviews in a variety of contexts and aimed to locate a cornerstone study for each of South Asia, South America and Africa. This review identified a series of general characteristics which CPD should aim for in order to provide positive outcomes for learners. The evidence from ODA-eligible countries supported the wider umbrella review findings and indicated that unsuccessful programmes failed partly due to the absence of recommended features, such as access to specialist expertise, steps to identify and build on teachers’ starting points, and making direct connections with school leaders. The gap between current practices and evidence seems to be most significant around linking CPD and student success, partly because of the absence of widespread approaches to formative assessment of learner progress.

Presentation 2: Dr Saraswati Dawadi from Nepal will discuss three aspects of teacher development practices in Nepal. She will reflect on the current practices of teachers’ professional development in Nepal. She will then highlight the issues facing educational researchers from Nepal in participating in and contributing to internationally funded research, with a major focus on institutional support and research collaboration opportunities. Finally, she will discuss the main challenges that educational researchers face within Nepal and internationally, and her observations on what can be done to promote more effective global-local connections in education partnerships.

Presentation 3: Dr Dario Banegas from Argentina will discuss issues related to conducting a systematic review of CPD activities in South America. He will consider how knowledge flow operates in this region in the field of language education, particularly writing for publication as a measure of professional legitimacy and belonging to the academic community. He will draw on his recent study about English language professionals’ conditions, experiences, and (de)motivations around writing for scholarly publications. Findings from 522 participants based in South American higher education institutions show the reproduction of hegemonic practices in the research cycle as well as participants’ interest in maximising their multilingual identity to disseminate their research.

The panel discussion will also include Professor Yusuf Sayed (University of Sussex). This discussion will reflect on the presentations and aim to collectively identify conditions and activity that can improve the inclusivity and equality of international research partnerships, the relevance of research carried out, and wider access to country-led research (with particular reference to teacher education). Questions to be discussed with the audience include:

What issues face educational researchers from ODA-eligible countries in participating in and contributing to internationally-funded research?
What are the issues for educational researchers in ODA-eligible countries in securing funding, designing, undertaking and publishing research within their country and/or access to sharing findings on international platforms?
What are the specific issues in ODA-eligible countries relating to the continuing professional development of teachers, and the research into and understanding and implementation and evaluation of CPD?

From Management to Support? How to Reconnect Communities and Schools to Improve Learning

Jason Silberstein, Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford (author); Masooda Bano, University of Oxford (author); Julius Atuhurra, Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford (author); Ricardo Sabates, University of Cambridge (discussant)

Many education policies and programmes are designed around the idea that greater community involvement can help improve the quality of local schools, in particular by monitoring the kind of education they provide. This idea has become the dominant global model for thinking about the community-school relationship. It has been championed and diffused by prominent international organizations, such as the World Bank, which dubbed this relationship the “short route of accountability” in its World Development Report (2003). Within countries, this idea has achieved near-ubiquity in the global spread of school management committees which, despite differences in design, nearly all seek to monitor schools and teachers.

This session proposes a critical, mixed-methods reconsideration of the ‘management’ model of school-community partnership. The first paper examines how this idea has played-out in local schools, synthesizing the global literature on why school management committees have largely failed to improve learning (Westhorp et al. 2014) and why, at the same time, they have retained widespread global and national political support. The next two papers study how local actors have reconceived the management model, one through an ethnographic study of a leading Indian foundation’s approach to community engagement, the other through a mixed-methods study of school-level positive deviance during Covid-19 in Uganda. By bringing these papers in conversation with each other, the symposium contrasts the disconnects in the dominant global paradigm with the alternative forms of connection that are possible through organic – rather than induced – forms of school-community partnership (Mansuri and Rao 2013).

The first paper, titled “A systems perspective on school committees and alternative forms of voice”, frames the session.  The paper offers a thematic synthesis of research on school committees, engaging with a range of literatures to reflect on how they have been designed and implemented. It argues that school committees, across multiple contexts, are assigned a monitoring role vis a vis local schools, but are constrained from effectively playing this role by the pre-existing distribution of power within the systems they are introduced into, and thus fail to have a sizable impact on school processes or student learning outcomes. At the same time, school committees allow national governments to demonstrate their commitment to donor-led agendas around fostering bottom-up participatory governance, but without changing much in practice. This results in a sustained equilibrium where school committees are often isomorphic and dysfunctional, yet continue to attract policy attention and investment. The author concludes with a discussion of more promising forms of community voice in local schools.

This discussion is elaborated in the second paper, “In Need of Fresh Thinking? Lessons from Pratham About Community Participation in Education”. Pratham is one of India’s most successful education foundations. The author couples 3-months of intensive fieldwork in India, using both interviews and ethnographic observation, with a comprehensive document review. The paper first shows that Pratham has had to unlearn many of the community engagement strategies that underpin the management model. In particular, Pratham has turned away from the idea that communities will be able to hold teachers or schools accountable since, in India’s highly centralized system where power resides high-up in the bureaucratic tiers, "one is dependent on engaging with the state actors, not lobbying against them.” The paper then offers a thick description of Pratham’s alternative philosophy to community participation wherein “learning communities” take joint responsibility with teachers for cultivating student learning rather than holding teachers to account.

The final paper describes emergent forms of community-school interaction that developed during the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda, which had some of the longest school closures in the world. The study pairs descriptive baseline data from an ongoing RCT with complementary qualitative interviews in 150 communities. The authors find that the “home-based learning” that began during the pandemic has catalysed a gradual but profound shift toward a “collaborative partnership model” with teachers.  For example, there was a sharp rise in the number of teachers conducting home visits and co-developing strategies for parents to directly support their children’s learning such as through at-home timetables or encouraging older siblings to act as tutors. Through documenting the nature and incidence of these positive deviance behaviours, the paper presents a potential reorientation of the parent-teacher relationship away from management and toward support.

Authors will have 10 minutes each to present (30 minutes total), followed by 10 minutes of discussant remarks drawing out common threads between the papers, and posing open questions to the audience for their comments during the remaining 50 minutes.

The symposium members are balanced across gender; North-South origins (Pakistan, Uganda, United States, United Kingdom). Authors of papers 1 and 3 are early-career researchers.

Conflicted knowledges in education with case studies from Peru and Uganda

Expedito Nuwategeka, Gulu University, Uganda; Maria Balarin, Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), Peru; Rachel Wilder, University of Bath; Julia Paulson, University of Bristol

This symposium explores how schools assimilate or disrupt global education priorities as well as local societal patterns of inequality, discrimination and violence through school administration, curricula and pedagogical practices. We do this through two case studies by Dr Maria Balarin (Group for the Analysis of Development, Peru) and Dr Expedito Nuwategeka (Gulu University, Uganda), produced through a comparative study called JustEd: Education as and for Environmental, Epistemic and Transitional Justice to Enable Sustainable Development. The third paper will be a discussion and theoretical contribution presented by Dr Rachel Wilder (University of Bath, UK) and facilitated by Dr Julia Paulson (University of Bristol, UK). The discussion will engage presenters and the audience about the ways in which different forms of injustice and violence are visible and invisibilized in learners lived experience and in educational policy.

We demonstrate how global educational agendas and discourses dominate local schools and what this means for learners, including many who closely identify with their own community-based knowledge systems. We suggest that dominant educational practices that champion neoliberal values, including a focus on individual success and accomplishment, repress diverse localised knowledge practices and traditions and perpetuate colonial violence. Dr Expedito Nuwategeka will present and discuss research with secondary school learners in Uganda, who experience parallel and conflicting knowledge systems, between which they ultimately feel pressed to choose. Given community-based tools of sanctions and incentives, many learners learn to resist global education discourses. It becomes apparent that global educational standards serve to disconnect schools and learners from the places in which they are situated as well as to instrumentally prevent progress on social, epistemic, transitional and environmental justice.

Dr Maria Balarin will present analysis about how social and cultural tensions, including legacies of conflict and political divides, are repressed and silenced in schooling, from the perspective of secondary school learners in Peru. The ubiquitous ‘I’ in educational objectives, and concerted efforts to de-politicize curricula and discourage notions of political dissent, present a seemingly impermeable barrier that prevents learners from acknowledging, discussing and critiquing the structural features of their schools and societies that continue to inflict incredible inequality, violence and silence upon those who have become accustomed to it. That is, the young, marginalised groups such as the urban poor, rural or indigenous people, or specific ethnic groups, migrant populations, and others considered to have a lower social status (i.e. due to income, occupation, family background, etc). The results suggest a hollowed out version of schooling that does not live up to current global demands for education to be a transformative, enlightening force in children’s lives.

We propose that schooling in Uganda and Peru is unlikely to foster a generation of critical, empowered and transformative young citizens – that envisaged by the global development community as the lynchpin to a new world of social and environmental justice. A more likely outcome is more of the same. Our findings are likely relevant to many other contexts. As such, we question the assertions that education will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 13 (climate action) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

To help develop these arguments, Dr Rachel Wilder will present a third paper in the form of a response to Dr Expedito Nuwategeka and Dr Maria Balarin. With Dr Julia Paulson as discussant, we will introduce theoretical ideas around the visibility and invisibility of structural injustices and violence and we will consider if and how they help to make sense of the findings in Uganda and Peru. We will also consider more broadly what their analyses reveal about epistemic and structural injustices present in educational policies, curricula and pedagogies in Uganda and Peru and suggest that learners have difficulty identifying these injustices and their impacts on their daily lives. We will open this discussion to the audience, reflecting on the visibility and invisibilization of violence and injustice in education.

Relationships as a foundation for educational partnerships: reflections from fieldwork in Sub-Saharan Africa

Joyceline Alla-Mensah, Open University, UK; Alice Amegah; Bukola Oyinloye, University of York; Basirat Razaq-Shuaib, University of Cambridge

Partnerships in international education research are increasingly being valued by funders, practitioners, and academics as an approach to improve education policy and practice as well as drive social change. While partnerships are useful in conveying the possible complexity of research activity, the notion of relationships that necessarily underpin or facilitate them is often underemphasized.

Relationships are critical within the context of fieldwork, and Pole and Hillyard suggest that fieldwork relationship is the process of creating and maintaining rapport between researcher (s) and the researched (2016, p. 4). For them, rapport is a form of relationship “based on mutual understanding and respect, where the parties are able to communicate openly and honestly about their different roles in the field and the ways in which they interact” (ibid). Relationships, however, appear to be narrowly conceived, as occurring only between researcher (s) and the researched.

In this symposium, we extend the notion of rapport beyond the researcher-researched fieldwork interaction and holistically interrogate this and other relationships the researcher navigates in the conduct of their research: that with gatekeepers or key contacts, participants, and policymakers/government officials. This is essential as, within education research, a researcher may hold and navigate multiple relationships simultaneously, including those with their institution (e.g., ethics committees, supervisors, etc.); other researchers or practitioners and their institutions; funders or sponsors; government officials (who may need to approve the research); gatekeepers; and research participants, among others. The ability to build and maintain these relationships has ethical implications for research as it underpins successful fieldwork and lays the groundwork for meaningful future partnerships (Millora et al., 2020; Oyinloye, 2021; Pole & Hillyard, 2016).

In this symposium, four early career researchers, three of whom are recipients of the BAICE student fieldwork grant, reflect on their experiences of building relationships during their doctoral fieldwork. Each paper focuses on one relationship and discusses the strategies adopted to build and maintain rapport, the challenges faced, breakthroughs made and how rapport evolved during the process of the fieldwork. Time is allowed for questions and discussion at the end of the presentations. The symposium abstract is submitted under the open theme and fits with the overall conference theme of partnerships in education as it situates the notion of partnerships within fieldwork relationships and interrogates how the latter facilitates or constrains the generation of data across diverse contexts.

In paper 1, Bukola Oyinloye’s presentation/contribution is situated within her ethnographic research around parental involvement in formal schooling in rural communities in Northern Nigeria. She reflects on the ways in which her positionality led to a deeper interrogation of the ethical frames which underpinned the study, and how a more substantive integration of participants’ conceptions of ethics paved the way for a re-imagining of the researcher-participant relationship in her study.

In paper 2, Alice Amegah discusses the framework she developed which guided her approach to the field during the Covid-19 pandemic when access to schools was restricted. Her work focuses on the motivations of young women studying STEM-related TVET courses in four upper secondary technical schools in Ghana. She shows in her presentation that rapport with policymakers can facilitate access and it is very important for researchers to develop strategies to navigate these relationships.

In paper 3, Basirat Razaq-Shuaib uses her fieldwork as a case study to discuss how fostering relationships with potential recruitment partners can be useful at the research conceptualisation and design stages. She also touches on how nurturing such relationships can facilitate access to interview participants in the field. Reflecting on the way her relationship with interview participants leverages their relationship with recruitment partners, she draws out how this association can facilitate in-depth story sharing by participants, especially on topics that may be considered sensitive.  Basirat Razaq-Shuaib’s work explores how parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders are navigating access to education for their children in Lagos, Nigeria.

In the final paper, Joyceline Alla-Mensah draws on her experience of researching the capabilities of informal apprentices in the automotive trade in Ghana to discuss the extent to which positionality impacts how one’s research is received by stakeholders and communities of practice and subsequently attempts to initiate and develop relationships. She will reflect on her engagement with gatekeepers to argue about the importance of continued engagement (after data gathering) as a strategy for gaining legitimacy, negotiating, and sustaining relationships that can foster other forms of partnerships, including research-practice partnerships.


Oyinloye, B. (2021) ‘Towards an Ọmọlúàbí code of research ethics: Applying a situated, participant-centred virtue ethics framework to fieldwork with disadvantaged populations in diverse cultural settings’, Research ethics review, 17(4), pp. 401–422. doi:10.1177/17470161211010863.

Pole, C., & Hillyard, S. (2016). Doing fieldwork. Sage.

Millora, C., Maimunah, S. and Still, E. (2020) ‘Reflecting on the ethics of PhD research in the Global South: reciprocity, reflexivity and situatedness’, Acta academica (Bloemfontein, South Africa), 52(1), pp. 10–30. doi:10.18820/24150479/aa52i1/SP2.

Climate Justice and the University

Tristan McCowan, University College London; Rosiana Lagi, University of the South Pacific; Joy Perry University College London; Lorena Sanchez Tyson, University College London; Caine Rolleston, University College London

This symposium will critically engage with aspects of global partnerships in higher education with a focus on addressing the climate crisis.  The scientific evidence for climate change is now “unequivocal” (IPCC 2021), with research highlighting that 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that that are highly vulnerable to climate change, predominantly located in the ‘Global South’, and deeply shaped by patterns of intersecting inequalities (IPCC 2022).

Within this context, our symposium will begin with the premise that technical fixes to the climate crisis are insufficient.  Drawing on understandings of climate justice (Newell et al. 2021), the symposium will argue that education in general, and higher education in particular, has a key role to play in responding to the crisis (McCowan 2020).   Reflecting on experience in a three-year GCRF-funded project focused on transforming universities for the climate crisis (Climate-U), the symposium will share experience of shifts from ‘project’ to ‘network’ in our engagements with educational partnerships addressing the crisis.  The symposium will include contributions from: Rosiana Lagi, country lead for Climate-U’s Fijian research partner, the University of South Pacific; Joy Perry and Lorena Sanchez Tyson, two early career researchers from University College London (UCL) and Associate Researchers on the Climate-U project; and Caine Rolleston, Climate-U Co-Investigator, based at UCL. The symposium will be facilitated by the Principal Investigator of Climate-U, Tristan McCowan.

As prompts to foster debate and critical conversation, this symposium will be structured around three presentations which will engage with different dimensions of the contributions of higher education to the crisis: understanding universities as holistic spaces; engaging with student practices, attitudes and behaviours; and the role of participatory action research in transforming engagements to work with marginalised communities.   Each of the following presentations will be ten minutes long, leaving the remaining 60 for questions and discussion.

Understanding universities as holistic spaces (Joy Perry and Lorena Sanchez Tyson, UCL)

This presentation will discuss the process of conducting a systematic review into university responses to the climate crisis, through research published in the last two decades in the databases Web of Science and Scopus.  Through a typology of change, this presentation will draw on five different dimensions of the university – education, knowledge production, community engagement, campus operations and public debate – to explore how universities are responding to the crisis.  The review aims to capture the global distribution of literature to date, asking which topics, methods, countries and regions predominate and how, and which areas have been neglected in the research published in these two databases.  Second, through synthesis of the substantive findings of empirical studies, it generates a global picture from the kinds of work universities are doing in different contexts and builds evidence for effective interventions.

Engaging with student practices, attitudes and behaviours (Caine Rolleston, UCL)

This presentation will share some key findings from a survey with more than 5000 undergraduate students in twelve universities in Brazil, Fiji, Kenya and Mozambique, and reflect on questions which the findings raise for the place of students’ understandings of climate change at their universities.  Overall, students reported high levels of concern about the environment and the effects of climate change while levels of satisfaction with their education on climate change were relatively low.  Social media plays an important role in informing students about climate change while the role of universities features less prominently.  Overall, students were optimistic about the potential of collective action for addressing climate change while being concerned that their universities could do more.

Partnering with marginalised communities: lessons from Vatutavui and the experience of the University of the South Pacific (Rosiana Lagi, University of the South Pacific)

This presentation will reflect on the experience of conducting participatory action research (PAR) with members of the coastal community of Vatutavui in Fiji in partnership with the University of the South Pacific.  It will highlight the potential for PAR to transform the ways in which universities work, through a climate justice lens that pays particular attention to indigenous epistemological and ontological frameworks.  Through community education conducted during the COVID pandemic, the project engages communities in using relevant cultural approaches in responding to climate change.

Each of these three inputs thus raises questions for different kinds of partnerships – within university systems, between lecturers and their students, and between universities and their communities.  The symposium will critically engage with each of these three potential connections, raising questions of power and possibilities to respond to the crisis within them.   The audience will be invited to engage critically with the presentations and to share their own experiences.

A Bridge to where? Determining the goals of bridging programmes for displaced learners

Martha Akello, Makerere University; Sharon Boateng, University of Edinburgh; Georgia Cole, University of Edinburgh; Michael Gallagher, University of Edinburgh; Mary Kampogo, Makerere University; Juan-José Miranda, University of Edinburgh; Ali Nehme, American University of Beirut; Devota Nuwe, Makerere University; Andie Reynolds, University of Edinburgh

The Foundation for All (FFA) project is a partnership between staff members and students at the University of Edinburgh, the Refugee Law Project at Makerere University in Uganda and the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. The project team will share its experiences of designing various bridging programmes for refugee learners, with a particular focus on how they determined the different outcomes: FFA was designed to prepare students for tertiary education in Uganda, whilst another programme, PADILEIA, was implemented by the American University of Beirut and focused on facilitating access to tertiary education pathways.

During the panel, the team will introduce the key debates in the literature on access to education for refugees (based on a recent review conducted by the team). We will then discuss what influenced FFA and PADILEA’s learning objectives, and students who undertook these programmes will be invited to reflect on to what extent these objectives met their needs. We will then invite the audience to join the discussion on how to determine and design programme goals and on how educational and political contexts should and influence this. The session is designed for anybody with an interest in refugee bridging programmes – from experts to beginners. The audience will be engaged through a Q&A session and through polling tools.

The team’s motivation for delivering this symposium is to open up the discussion on different educational/ vocational pathways for refugees as we recognise that there is no “one size fits all” approach across different contexts. We hope that audience members and our own team will benefit from a rich discussion on different programme models and goals, which will inform the development of bridging initiatives for refugee learners.

Guiding Principles for Partnerships in Education in Emergencies: Lessons from a Vertical Case Study in Lebanon

Francine Menashy, University of Toronto; Maha Shuayb, Centre for Lebanese Studies; Zeena Zakharia, University of Maryland; Robin Shields, University of Bristol

This symposium will present three facets of a large-scale research project on partnerships in education in emergencies (EiE), through the lens of the Syrian refugee education response in Lebanon. The symposium links directly to the BAICE conference theme, and in particular the sub-theme on Partnerships in Conflict Contexts. This research aimed to generate evidence on the nature and impact of partnerships, using the global educational response to the refugee crisis in Lebanon as a case study. The project involved a three-year (2018-2021) vertical case study, including over 100 interviews, 250 documents, a network analysis of 440 different organizations, and over 30 site visits and observations of partnership activities.

The three presentations in the symposium cover key findings from different components of the study. The first presentation, “Reconsidering partnerships in education in emergencies,” provides a context for the study and will detail data collected from key informant interviews and documents, showing that our analysis exposed an environmental shift in EiE that reflects increased marketization of the humanitarian response. This shift is evidenced in two general ways; first, through increased private sector participation in EiE partnerships, where companies in particular have become more engaged; and second, through a more business-like approach to EiE, in terms of a competitive, outcomes-based, and data-driven environment that focuses on outputs and targets. Based on our research, partnerships that reflect this marketized approach—including an increase in business involvement in conjunction with embracing more business-like ways of working—spur several critiques.

The second paper, “Policy networks and refugee education partnerships,” focuses on the social network analysis component of the study, examining the characteristics of both global and local organizations that engage in partnerships, the types of activities they support, how partners tie to one another, and which hold most influential positions within a network. We moreover examine how the network changes over time due to both global and local events. We draw our insights from an original database including 440 state and nonstate entities engaged in Syrian refugee education in Lebanon, collected in two phases. Phase 1 took place from November 2018-February 2019, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The second collection point, or Phase 2, took place from November 2020-February 2021. Together the Phase 1 and 2 datasets were used to generate a network analysis of partnerships engaged in refugee education within the country which shows clear and significant changes in organizations and activities involved in educational partnerships. Our analysis moreover shows the extensive involvement of global actors, headquartered in the Global North, within a national network.

The third paper, “Educational partnerships for refugees: Case study findings from Lebanon,” uncovers evidence from an analysis of 16 partnerships within Lebanon which supported refugee education responses in the country, focusing on how local organizations experience partnerships with international actors. Our interview data suggests two primary ways in which local organizations experience partnerships: 1) in terms of service provision, and 2) in terms of co-construction. The majority of partnerships in our country analysis exhibited the service provision model, a donor-implementer type of partnership where the donor’s agenda drove the activities, whereas the role of the implementing partner was primarily to deliver a pre-specified service. The power dynamics in the service provision partnerships were often in favor of the donor, who decided the parameters of implementation. In contrast, “co-constructed” partnerships revealed a different way in which local organizations experienced partnerships. This type of partnership appeared to grow from local networks, often formed from the experiences of organizations which identified a shared interest in addressing a locally-identified challenge or gap. Such co-constructed partnerships provided mutual growth and learning opportunities to each other.

From these overarching findings we arrive at five intersecting Guiding Principles for partnerships in EiE: (1) care; (2) trust and respect; (3) ongoing and organic communication; (4) mutual learning and multi-directional knowledge sharing; (5) self-reflection and interrogation of power dynamics.

Following the presentations, the panelists will briefly explain these Guiding Principles and propose three questions for discussion:

What broader implications might the findings have for policies and policy-making on education in emergencies?
How might actors and organizations operationalize the Guiding Principles in education in emergencies partnership activities?
How might the Guiding Principles inform other types of partnerships, including research partnerships?

We believe the symposium format is ideal for sharing this study, enabling us to convey various facets of the same project, followed by an authentic discussion prompted by the overarching study findings.

Working in partnership with refugee teachers: promising policies, practices and experiences from East Africa

Ruth Naylor, Education Development Trust, UK; Andie Reynolds, University of Edinburgh; Sarah Austin, University of Edinburgh; Helen West, Education Development Trust, UK; Leonora MacEwen, UNESCO IIEP (Chair)

In 2017, Ministers of Education from eight East African countries adopted the Djibouti Declaration on Refugee Education. The accompanying Plan of Action calls for “strengthening regional frameworks to promote the inclusion of refugee teachers, their professional development and certification, in national education systems and support of equivalency.”

This symposium will explore the extent to which this is being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It will present promising policies and practices as well as persistent gaps in the realisation of the Declaration and the inclusion of refugee teachers into national systems. It explores the position of refugee teachers and the extent to which they are treated as partners in the delivery of education for refugees.

The symposium draws its framing and comparative approach from an international research programme on the management of teachers in refugee contexts, and provides a “deep dive” into the experiences of refugee teachers in Ethiopia based on other research, including an ethnographic study by an early career researcher.

The format will be a short introduction, followed by 3 presentations (8 mins each) and discussion facilitated by the session chair (Leonora MacEwen, IIEP)

Introduction: Comparative overview of policies and practices relating to the inclusion of refugee teachers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda

Ruth Naylor, Education Development Trust

This overview draws on data collected from a multi-country research initiative on teacher management in refugee settings. The research methodology included reviews of international, regional, and national policy documents, national teacher surveys, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions at national, regional, district, and school levels.

In each of the countries studied, we found that national policy frameworks were linked with the Djibouti Declaration and other international commitments, as indicated by explicit references within documents themselves and high levels of awareness of these commitments among policymakers and other key stakeholders. We identified examples of promising teacher management practices directly reflecting these policy initiatives and commitments. Despite these promising practices, there are persistent challenges in implementing many of the policies for the inclusion of refugee teachers. Refugee teachers’ qualifications are not consistently recognized, and funds are often unpredictable, leading to inequitable working conditions for these teachers.

Paper 1: Uptake of young female refugees in refugee teacher training programmes in Ethiopia

Andie Reynolds, University of Edinburgh

This paper looks at the factors that have impeded the participation of female teacher candidates in incentive teaching and available teacher training initiatives in refugee camps across Ethiopia. It draws on participatory action research methodologies, engaging with 685 participants across many participant groups, including young girls eligible to become incentive primary schoolteachers, female teachers who have left the (primary) teaching profession, existing female primary teachers (both national and incentive teachers), community leaders, parents, camp leaders, representatives from Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs), INGO and/or NGO refugee education specialists and Agency for Refugee and Returnee (ARRA) representatives.

Paper 2: Refugee teacher identities and experiences in Gambella, Ethiopia: Sarah Austin, University of Edinburgh

The teachers in camp schools are usually refugees themselves, called incentive teachers who often have little formal training and who are poorly paid.  This study aims to investigate how these teachers (South Sudanese Nuer refugees) conceptualize education and their role within it amid the unique challenges they face as refugees and untrained teachers in the refugee camp schools, while examining the wider context of those they are partnering with including NGO staff and Teacher trainers.  The research initially applied an ethnographic approach, but adapted under COVID-19 to include a survey completed and in-depth interviews over WhatsApp.

Paper 3: Teacher management in refugee settings in Kenya: Helen West, Education Development Trust

Using a collaborative, multi-phased, mixed methods approach, this paper examines how teachers are managed in policy and practice in refugee hosting areas in Kenya. The case study identifies promising policies and practices and gaps in order to reveal potential areas for further development and successful implementation of policies to support effective teacher management in refugee settings. The teacher management strategy and approach in refugee contexts in Kenya was notable for the concerted and deliberate efforts to promote a collaborative working environment in which more qualified (predominantly national) national teachers supported less qualified refugee teachers. However, the study also found an absence of a formalised professional development framework and career progression structure.

‘Small Stories’ from School Collaborations

Hannah Boydon, Mayflower Primary School, UK; Stewart Cook, Francis Olive Anderson, C.E Primary School, UK; Yvette Hutchinson, British Council

British Council school partnerships enable authentic, inclusive and diverse voices to’ bring the world into the classroom.’ Part of this work is led by our British Council Schools Ambassadors; a network of highly skilled professionals from the education sector who have direct expertise in making international education work in a variety of settings. This symposium will be led by British Council Schools Ambassadors and tell the story of two partnerships and their innovative work in creating powerful educational experiences for learners and teachers. The partnerships were established through the British Council’s Connecting Classroom through Global Learning (CCGL) project. Each partnership was used as the basis for MA research which will structure the content of the symposium.

The first partnership is between Francis Olive Anderson Church of England Primary School in rural Lincolnshire and Mohammad Shamal Public School in the centre of Beirut, Lebanon.
Stewart Cook, Assistant Headteacher, will discuss the findings that emerged from his two research questions:

1: What are pupils and parents’ initial perceptions of Lebanon/ Middle East and of their partner school in Beirut?
2: To what extent do the activities impact on pupils’ and parents’ perceptions of Beirut/ Lebanon / Middle East and their partner school?

The project stemmed from research by Caabu (The Council for Arab British Understanding) (Mohamed 2020) that found people in Britain had little knowledge of the Arab world with research showing that 81% of Britons knew little or nothing about the area.

Stewart Cook and Myassar Itani, the school partnership lead from Mohammad Shamal school in Beirut, will present an analysis based on the collaborative learning activities between the two schools.

The second partnership is between clusters of schools in Leicestershire and Nepal. The focus of this research was an experiential project between educators in Nepal and the UK as they collaborated on a shared body of work which focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Hannah Boydon, Assistant Headteacher, will outline the findings that emerged from her three research questions:

1. What are the motivations for schools and individuals to participate in international partnership working?
2. How do partnership schools and individuals experience the project?
3. What do teachers and head teachers perceive the impact to be of working as part of the project?

With particular focus on how teachers from the UK and Nepal experienced the project, Hannah will be joined by a representative from the Nepal cluster to explore the extent to which school partnerships between low and high-income countries can create an important space for equitable collaboration. They will outline how issues of power, funding, location, assumptions and expectation informed their interactions and their capacity for mutual learning and professional understanding.

The second part of the symposium will be interactive and will be chaired by a British Council Senior Consultant from their Global Schools Team. Delegates will be invited to focus on the experience of international school partnerships. Firstly, to compare edwordles (language frequency) from the cluster collaboration and how they reflect the experiences of educators from high- and low-income contexts. The speakers will then ask delegates to make suggestions about the experience of pupil collaboration by assessing some of the children’s drawings of the natural and built environment, culture and history of their partner schools.

The British Council aims to bring people together and encourage partnership working across cultures and contexts. The symposium will allow the speakers to compare experiences within two types of partnership. Through discussion we will also highlight how the themes of stereotypes and equality permeated both research topics and the experiences of project participants.

Fostering multi-sector partnerships: lessons from the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Fraser Macdonald, Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF; Grant Murray, Northern Alliance; Julian David Lopez Cespedes, Universidad de los Andes; William C. Smith, University of Edinburgh / Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Increasingly cross-sector partnerships are recognized as essential to driving change and impact in education. Pulling in experts with different perspectives, aims, and experiences can add a level of richness and authenticity to research partnerships. However, fostering or cultivating such collaborations is neither quick nor easy. This symposium will prompt discussion on the benefits and challenges of cross-sectoral partnerships in education, drawing from the lessons learned by the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF. The Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF is a partnership between Scottish Government, the University of Edinburgh and UNICEF. It is dedicated to improving outcomes for children through data science and works toward this task by identifying issues, launching challenges, and building collaborations.

This 60-minute symposium will consist of a brief introduction to the Collaborative and its impact collaboration process followed by 7-minute interventions from those working on their education related projects, focused on the value-added partnerships brought to the project. The symposium concludes with a 25 to 30-minute open discussion on the benefits and challenges of cross-sectoral partnerships.


Fraser Macdonald, Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF
Grant Murray, Northern Alliance
Julian David Lopez Cespedes, Universidad de los Andes
William C. Smith, University of Edinburgh/ Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Presentation Summaries:

The Northern Alliance Regional Improvement Collaborative

Grant Murray, Northern Alliance

The Northern Alliance Regional Improvement Collaborative is diverse and spans approximately 60% of Scotland’s landmass. Their schools and the children, young people and families reside in an array of communities which are unique and complex in demography, geography and economy. The relationship between deprivation and attainment is complex. To achieve equity and excellence, the understanding of place and context, as well as meaningful use of data for improvement are vital in getting it right for every child.

Our project, supported by the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF, includes academics from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser Allander Institute and Glasgow Caledonian University’s Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit. We also collaborate with East Neuk Analytics who support schools interpret and analyse data. Our collaboration has also extended beyond Scotland to India – with support from the Civic Data Lab. The aim of this collaboration is to determine what data sources and techniques best reflect the challenges of child poverty, capture the needs within individual contexts, and subsequently enable schools, settings local authorities and other bodies to plan more effective interventions to improve outcomes for all of our children and young people. As part of this process, we are also exploring how key data sources can be made more accessible to schools and settings as and when they need it.

Accelerating What Works to End Violence Against Children

Julian David Lopez Cespedes, Universidad de los Andes

This project of the End Violence Lab systematically reviewed violence prevention interventions that address violence reduction while also targeting multiple SDGs not directly associated with violence, creating an ‘accelerator’ effect. However, systematic reviews typically fail to engage or address end-users needs. Inspired by the Data for Children Collaborative’s Youth Engagement Workbook (completed as part of the Responsible Innovation Framework), the End Violence Lab proposed a series of youth-centred activities to complement the funded review. Mid-career researchers from universities in Brazil, China, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda carried out the reviews. The Young People Advisors (YPAs) Project enhanced the systematic review process, establishing mixed gender teams from each country that critiqued the research findings, applied participatory evaluation as a means of holding themselves accountable to the project’s goals and generated a series of youth-led outputs. Products produced were featured on various global, academic, and national knowledge platforms. Engaging youth in research enables young people to fully exercise their right to be heard.

Access to Services and Multi-dimensional Childhood Poverty in Uganda

William C. Smith, University of Edinburgh/ Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Access to services, such as healthcare and education, vary widely across and within countries. Challenges in accessing services are more likely amongst families living in poverty, further hampering children’s development. This project draws together academics from education, geo-sciences, and machine learning, with colleagues from UNICEF to examine how travel time to schools and health centres can help explain who access such services and how access is related to childhood poverty. Using the diverse expertise within the project team a land cover map is created for Uganda using available geo-spatial data and combined with survey and administrative data to calculate travel time and explore access and poverty. UNICEF plays a key role in this partnership with their expertise in MICS household survey data and development of the multi-dimensional poverty indicator. Being well connected to UNICEF and local actors helps ensure that the research produced by the project has an immediate outlet, increasing its impact.

Experiencing education partnerships in Schools2030: Exploring local stories, practices and context for systems-level improvements

Duishonkul Shamatov; Mir Afzal Tajik, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan; Ana Luiza Fonseca Minardi, Renaud Comba, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti; Saba Saeed, ITA Pakistan; Agatha Kimani, Zizi Afrique; Elizabeth Germana, Eric Opoku, Right to Play; Ellen Smith, Aga Khan Foundation


Schools2030 is a ten-year participatory learning improvement programme based in 1,000 government schools across ten countries. Using the principles of human-centred design and a three-step model for educational change – Assess, Innovate, Showcase – to support teachers and students to design and implement micro-innovations that meet the learning needs of their classrooms and communities.

Schools2030 is a global coalition made up of education stakeholders, including teachers and school communities, national and global technical partners, local and national government, civil society organisations and donors. As part of this, Schools2030 works with a diverse set of independent research partners, many of whom are based in the focus countries, to help us understand how and what children are learning through their participation in the programme.

Schools2030 research

Our approach rooted in contextualisation moves away from efforts that see school-level actors as passive participants. By co-creating and sharing evidence with school-level stakeholders as part of the research process, our model of research partnership seeks to counteract the trend in global education research that sees focal countries as sites of data extraction, with research outputs flowing largely from and between western institutions. Our experience of placing participatory processes at the heart of our programming and research partnerships uniquely positions Schools2030 and our partners to reflect on the challenges, successes and opportunities afforded by working as part of a rich network of education partners.

We will hear a range of perspectives from across Schools2030 research partners and their projects, including from:

Nazarbayev University who are leading research together with OISE, University of Toronto that explores context-relevant definitions of quality education by understanding the perspectives of teachers, students, school leaders, and parents in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and how ideas of quality are manifesting in the classroom. This two-year study aims at identifying and generating classroom and school-based effective, sustainable, culturally relevant and contextually workable practices and ideas, so as to change the understanding and paradigms of thinking on how sustainable, workable and replicable solutions can be developed in countries like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We will hear how this research explores stories of how education practices are perceived, experienced, shaped and mediated by people on the ground.
UNICEF Innocenti’s Data Must Speak (DMS) research which uses a mixed-methods and “positive deviance” approach to identify local practices and behaviours that are successful in making some schools outperform others, even though they operate in similar contexts. These can then be scaled to less-performing schools. To improve uptake and scalability, the DMS research also uses a participatory approach, like analysing administrative datasets hand in hand with Ministries of Education as well as communicating findings at the community and national level. The research is being undertaken in 14 countries, including in Tanzania where DMS and Schools2030 are working together. We will hear about how the projects’ co-creation and co-implementation process operates within a systems approach to improving education that makes use of large administrative datasets.
ITA Pakistan & Zizi Afrique, who are investigating the relationship between academic learning outcomes and non-academic skills in Schools2030 schools in Pakistan and Kenya. The intervention is aimed at generating evidence on co-creating content and new knowledge by several key actors (parents, teachers, school leaders, government staff and other community members) in the more open education system - drawing upon local contexts, storytelling, heritage and positive customary practices. We will hear perspectives from this project on linkages between academic and non-academic skills, and reflections on what this means for what is valued and measured in education.
Right to Play who are working as part of a unique research-practice partnership together with the Universities of Notre Dame and Dar es Salaam to understand the effectiveness of key elements of the Design Thinking Approach and Play-based Learning and how they impact children’s social, emotional, and academic skills. The aim is to co-create context-relevant conceptualisation and measurement of socioemotional learning (SEL) skills, developed in close collaboration with children, parents, teachers and education staff in Tanzania. We will hear reflections on what is valued and measured in education by stakeholders including children, parents and teachers, and the localised manifestation of learner-centred designs in a resource-constrained setting.

We will also bring in perspectives from teachers that have emerged from the Schools2030 programme so far.

The session will commence with an overview of the Schools2030 programme and research stream, followed by brief presentations from each of the Schools2030 research partners before opening for discussion.

Enhancing understanding of students’ experiences of language and learning by partnering with young people to explore the classroom and the spaces between and beyond

Aline Dorimana, University of Rwanda; Aloysie Uwizeyemariya, University of Rwanda; Laela Adamson, University of Bath; Rhona Brown, University of Glasgow

The three different research studies that come together in this symposium share an interest in language of instruction, pedagogy, and the classroom experiences of learners in East Africa. In designing their research, all three projects responded to two key concerns about existing foci in educational research in the region. Firstly, that ‘big data’ metrics and narratives about the future outcomes and returns of education distract from, or even undermine, the importance of young people’s educational experiences in the present. And secondly, that existing classroom observation-based studies in these areas have tended to focus on teachers’ actions and interactional patterns, with students often framed either as passive victims of poor policy and practice, or as ‘problems’ due to deficits in their language and content knowledge.

Against this background, this symposium explores what can be learned when we look beyond formal lessons and combine classroom observation with conversations and activities conducted in partnership with young people. In different ways, all three projects sought to foreground young people’s agency in negotiating their learning experiences and to highlight the connections between the multiple spaces and experiences that constitute their lives. Presentations will describe the methodological approaches taken in their respective projects and demonstrate how these led to being able to develop understandings of students’ educational experiences that would not otherwise have been possible. They will also reflect on the challenges and limitations faced in practice when seeking to develop more meaningful researcher-participant partnerships.


Aline Dorimana and Aloysie Uwizeyemariya, University of Rwanda

This paper presents how combining lesson observations focused on particular case-study girls with interviews with these girls, their teachers and school leaders, enabled much richer understanding of classroom experiences and the wide range of factors that influence learning. It also explores how the fact that observations and conversations were conducted by two Rwandan women, perceived as educated role-models, triggered openness and a sense of mutual benefit. This presentation draws from a study of ‘Girls’ educational experiences in English-medium Rwandan basic education’ recently conducted in three provinces and Kigali city. It focuses on how the methods used have enabled deep exploration and understanding of the way girls’ ‘burdens’ from different spheres of life have significant impacts on their education, and some variables that may contribute to transcending this epistemic injustice in girls’ education.

Laela Adamson, University of Bath

This paper considers how conversations with young people in the spaces between and beyond lessons enabled explanations of classroom experiences that transformed the interpretation of classroom observation data. Insights are drawn from an ethnographic study in two secondary schools in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania which focused on students’ experiences and negotiations of their school language environment. This presentation focuses on how sitting and talking to students between lessons, and asking them to explain particular observed moments and patterns, led to an appreciation of the pervasive role of fear and shame for students learning in an unfamiliar language. It also reflects on working with a group of student researchers who acted as ‘critical friends’ and helped explain and interpret findings emerging from the data.

Rhona Brown, University of Glasgow

This paper explores the insights that can be gained by widening the view of learning beyond the classroom, into home and neighbourhood learning spaces, and by including the perceptions and experiences of children.  Drawing on data and analysis from a wider comparative case study in and around two high-performing government primary schools in north-west Tanzania, this presentation highlights how using creative methods with primary children allows us to open up discussions of what learning is and what it is for, increase the visibility of children as ‘more than data-points’ and counter the often deficit portrayal of Tanzanian children as  passive or struggling..  The paper contrasts the intersecting knowledge and skills that the participants develop and value out of school with the narrower, more rigid learning focus of the classroom.


Each presentation will last for 10 minutes, with an additional 5 minutes for questions relating to individual papers. A group discussion will then be opened, led by discussant, Zoe James (University of Cambridge), who has experience of large-scale educational research and evaluation, recently with a focus on language-in-education policy in Ethiopia. The broader discussion will include consideration of the following:

How micro-level research exploring young people’s educational and wider life experiences interacts with wider power dynamics and narratives of global education research and practice.
The challenges involved in aspiring to co-created research and more equal researcher-participant research partnerships in the context of time pressures, limited funding, and the ongoing constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

All presenters and the discussant for this symposium are Early Career Researchers.

The route to developing contextualized metrics for assessing social emotional learning in East Africa

David Alelah, Zizi Afrique, Kenya; Florence Nansubugu, Makerere University

Education in East Africa-Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania- has evolved to include social-emotional skills in the school’s curriculum with majority of schools now including Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programmes and initiatives within their school timetable. Unfortunately, education systems are yet to develop metrics to assess learners in regard to these competences. Teachers, in particular, have difficulties or limited abilities of how to measure, for example, if a learner has problem-solving skills. Those who are creative, use metrics designed by the West for the West even when the cultures and way of life differ significantly.

To understand and bridge the systemic gaps, a group of 25 civil organizations in East Africa, came together to develop contextual measurements for SEL and in particular, problem-solving, self-awareness, collaboration, and respect. The initiative dubbed Assessment of Life Skills and Values in East Africa (ALiVE) seeks to: (i) develop contextualized, open-source tools for assessing life skills and values of adolescents aged 13-17 years; (ii) use the tools developed to assess selected values and life skills; (iii) use the evidence generated to inform change and build capacities within the ALiVE member organizations; and (iv) develop local expertise in measurement and amplify the Southern voice. This symposium features three presenters:

Presenter 1: Understanding and defining social-emotional skills in context.

To define and understand the social-emotional skills, the ALiVE initiative kicked off with an emic study. The study was conducted in 15 districts in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania aimed at generating an understanding of how the selected competences are understood and defined in the local contexts. In particular, the study aimed at answering three questions; i) How are the competences (constructs) understood, defined and described by the various stakeholders? ii) Which elements and sub-elements make up the competences? iii) How do the stakeholders assess if an adolescent has these competences or not?

The presenter will share the findings of the study and pitch the contextualized definitions against the existing global competence frameworks. The results of this analysis will spur discussions on the potential of this methodology to add to the existing global knowledge while ensuring that competences are understood in context to improve the validity of measurement and accuracy of results in the measurement of SEL.

Presenter 2: The journey to developing and validating contextualized metrics of social-emotional learning.

The ALiVE tool development process kicked off immediately after the findings from the Ethnographic studies were released. A team of 47 members from East Africa were introduced to the 16 documents authored from the study as well as 4 documents authored after a comprehensive literature review. Through a series of 5 workshops, 1 think aloud and 2 regional pilots, the assessment tools were developed, finalized and validated.

Workshop 1 was dedicated to reviewing the skills descriptions from the ethnographic studies and the literature review, drafting consolidated descriptions and drafting sub-components and the skills structure, while workshop 2 was to review and revise the skill structure, followed by process of task development. In workshop three the team worked on the scoring rubric. Additionally, the team was introduced to the think aloud technique as way of pre-testing the tools. The think alouds were conducted in 8 districts in East Africa. Data from this process was analyzed during the panelling workshop and a decision made during workshop 4 on the final list of items for the pilot. The pilot was conducted in 10 districts in the three countries where 1,271 adolescents aged 13 to 17 years participated.

During the last workshop, the pilot data was analyzed and from this, few tasks were dropped. The workshop was then followed by another pilot in 3 districts aimed at testing the process of tool administration and budgetary implications.

Presenter 3: Can collaborative action drive better learning outcomes? A critical examination of the ALiVE project in East Africa

Interorganizational collaboration has become a primary global strategy for addressing tenacious social, economic, political and other forms of developmental concerns. Partners forge alliances and pool resources to address cross-cutting issues that may not be addressed by a single entity. This study examined the effectiveness of the collaboration process, and its contextual dynamism for the Regional Education Learning Initiative called ALiVE. The study employed a qualitative approach and specifically an exploratory research design to inquire, learn, and reflect on the collaboration process for developing contextualized assessment tools by the East African partner organizations. The study consisted of 29 key informants who were part of the team developing contextualized metrics. We found that partners have personal motives for joining the collaboration alliances, and they can only stay in the collaboration if their motives are fulfilled. Partners would engage in a collaboration if its vision and goals reflect their needs and when there is an opportunity to learn from diverse perspectives, make decisions collectively and agree on solutions collectively.

The Future of Schooling in the COVID-19 Era: Emerging Experiences from Manchester, England, and Toronto, Canada

Paul Armstrong, University of Manchester; Stephen Rayner, University of Manchester; Carol Campbell, University of Toronto; Joseph Flessa, University of Toronto; Kelsey Lewis, University of Toronto

This symposium proposal is aligned with the conference sub-theme of “experiencing educational partnerships”. Two main related themes will be discussed: first, the experience of a research partnership between university teams in Manchester, England, and Toronto, Canada; second, the comparative study of the experiences of school leaders in these jurisdictions navigating through the pandemic to support their schools, students, staff, and themselves. This work illuminates the theme of multi-dimensional collaboration given it goes beyond educational leaders in Toronto and Manchester learning from and with each other to the experiencing and theorizing of an educational partnership aimed at navigating how educational norms can be both confronted and re-conceptualized. Despite there being “no precedents, no ring-binders, no blueprints to help'' (Harris & Jones, 2020, p. 246), educational leaders remained unwavering in their engagement to serve their communities amidst the nuanced demands of an incredibly disruptive and damaging period. Their powerful stories highlight the partnerships and practices that define the most critical aspect of any education system, its people.

The symposium will begin by introducing the overall project, followed by presentations about the similarities of findings from Manchester and Toronto and the unifying theme of schools responding to the COVID-19. At least thirty minutes will be allocated for interactive discussion with the audience on themes raised concerning educational leadership to support students’ presence, participation, and progress during the pandemic emergency response.

Presentation 1: Manchester’s Pathways to Success Project 

A defining feature of the global pandemic has been its impact on education, particularly the disproportionate effect on families and children from poorer backgrounds (Andrew et al, 2020). This paper reports on findings from the Pathways to Success project undertaken with groups of schools in England as part of a regional strategy to address these (pre-existing) challenges that have worsened as a consequence of Covid-19. The aim of this strategy is to create pathways for the sharing of knowledge and expertise in support of education for all young people whilst paying particular attention to those who are vulnerable to marginalisation and exclusion. The strategy is distinctive in that it is led by educational leaders engaging in cross-border collaboration.

Our role as university researchers enabled us to facilitate this process by providing a space for leaders to reflect on their efforts. These spaces were used to generate data via a series of online focus groups with these educational professionals.

We were guided by the following questions:

How have school leaders created a climate for learning and supported vulnerable learners (and their families) during Covid 19?
How has collaborative dialogue between schools supported leadership and teaching practice during Covid-19?

The findings reveal how, when faced with unprecedented challenges, school leaders demonstrated resilience, adaptability, and ingenuity to ensure an appropriate climate for teaching and learning for the young people they serve. This serves as a reminder of the vast pools of (often untapped) expertise and knowledge that exist within schools (Ainscow et al, 2012) and the strong appetite within the system for collaborative activity between schools (Armstrong & Ainscow, 2018). We argue that more could be done to capitalise on this enthusiasm for cross-border collaboration to enable a greater mobilization of professional knowledge around the system.

Presentation 2: Toronto’s Future of Schooling Project 

To understand how schools are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),  interviews and focus groups were conducted with educational leaders (one system leader, seven elementary school leaders and three secondary school leaders). Data analysis of participants' responses allowed for themes to be identified.

Several themes relating to schooling in the COVID-19 era were identified. The narratives of school leaders suggest that the impact of the pandemic on schooling has been wide-reaching and considerable in its effect. The development of students has suffered in a myriad of ways and extreme feelings of stress and exhaustion have negatively impacted the mental health of entire learning communities. Participants provided numerous examples of how issues of inequity resulted in a lack of access to vital programs and services. Increased work demands and feelings of a lack of worth led many teachers and leaders to leave the profession, resulting in significant staffing issues. Participants shared that reaching out frequently through a variety of forms of communication and finding creative ways to build community and nurture collaboration whenever possible was helpful. Participants suggested that being flexible, adaptable, compassionate and responsive in their approach to leadership was needed to enable responses to unfamiliar challenges which included growing professional needs, remote learning, relentless public health demands and the absence of a roadmap to guide leading in a time of crisis. Looking forward, participants identified an opportunity for re-imagination of educational norms that challenges the persistent features of our education system, where things are done differently and better. Given that The Ontario Leadership Framework (2013) does not take into account challenges such as rapid change, emergency responses, equity, and well-being, it could be concluded that it was ineffective in guiding Ontario's leaders in a time of disruption.


Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., Goldrick, S. and West, M. (2012) Developing equitable education systems. London: Routledge.

Andrew, A., Cattan, S., Costa Dias, M., Farquharson, C., Kraftman, L., Krutikova, S., & Sevilla, A. (2020). Inequalities in children's experiences of home learning during the COVID‐19 lockdown in England. Fiscal Studies, 41(3), pp. 653-683.

Armstrong, P. W. and Ainscow, M. (2018) School-to-school support within a competitive education system: views from the inside. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 29(4), pp. 614-633.

Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2020). COVID-19 - school leadership in disruptive times. School Leadership and Management, 40 (4), 243-247.

Leithwood, K. (2013). The Ontario Leadership Framework 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2022 from: https://www.education-leadership-ontario.ca/application/files/8814/9452/4183/Ontario_Leadership_Framework_OLF.pdf

Mapping the Complex Flows of International Aid to Higher Education

Tristan McCowan, UCL Institute of Education; Lee Rensimer, UCL Institute of Education; Tessa DeLaquil, Center for International Higher Education, Boston College; Ibrahim Oanda, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA); Pramod Bhatta, Tribhuvan University; Tejendra Pherali, UCL Institute of Education

The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put higher education (HE) back on the global development agenda by calling for equal access to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university (Target 4.3). In sharp relief with international efforts to improve access and quality in compulsory education in low- and lower middle-income countries, however, there is scarcely a degree of coordination or resource concentration to higher education to make this target realistically achievable. Just over half of the USD 9.8 billion of development assistance allocated to education by bilateral donors and multilateral agencies in 2019 was earmarked for higher education (OECD, 2022). However, 74% of HE aid went to international scholarships for study in donor countries, which critics have observed consolidate “flows of knowledge and capital between developed and underdeveloped countries” (Amazan et al., 2016, p. 48) and importantly, do little to build the capacity of higher education systems in countries receiving aid (Heleta & Bagus, 2021). Relatively smalls sums of international aid are dedicated to sustainable HE programming, namely institutional development, research capacity, pedagogical quality or internationalisation activities, and much of it goes to middle-income countries (Varghese, 2010).

These challenges to realising SDG4.3 are reflected in the complex and fragmented HE aid landscape, wherein ‘aid’ constitutes a diffuse panoply of interventions (including programmatic aid, loans, international partnerships, research collaborations, etc.) directed at national governments, research councils, universities, faculties or individual departments – either in recipient or donor countries. This fragmentation is arguably mirrored in the literature, which lacks the depth and consistency of the corpus of research on aid to compulsory education. While recent scholarship has attended to the relationship between HE and sustainable development in the Global South (McCowan, 2019; Oketch et al., 2014), the mechanisms of international assistance to HE – that is, the flows of finance, non-financial resources, and knowledge – have received scant attention, particularly with regards to their interactions in and impacts on recipient country HE systems. This gap forms the basis for the research collaborations showcased in this symposium.

This symposium brings together four complementary research strands on financial flows to HE, stemming from an ESRC-funded Centre for Global Higher Education project entitled ‘Mapping the Supranational Higher Education Space’. The presentations are led by collaborators from Kenya, Nepal, UK and USA and take differing approaches, including macro-analyses of the global flows and their proponents, and country-level analyses examining the impact of flows on national governments and universities. The symposium closely aligns with the conference theme of partnerships, specifically the sub-theme on the financing of education, in its focus on the competing priorities of actors financing HE, the mechanisms they use, and the asymmetries they sustain.

The first two presentations will address ongoing work mapping and characterising the continuities and shifting developments in international HE aid flows to low and middle-income countries at the global level. Both streams are informed by largescale datasets on development finance (specifically the OECD Creditor Reporting System). The first presentation will engage the question of what the contemporary trends in international flows to HE are in terms of donor actors, receiving countries, and types of aid, and what gaps are evident from these datasets. The second presentation extends this largescale mapping with a qualitative component, using interview data with representatives of the major donor organisations to understand how and why HE aid and donor policy has changed in recent decades.

The third and fourth presentations will situate the discussion within a selection of case countries receiving international support for HE maintenance and development in varying volumes and forms, looking at how its impact relates to broader national development goals. Attending to Kenya and Nepal respectively, both examine the major international flows to HE in each country, how these flows are characterised and framed in relation to their stated purpose (e.g. as aid, foreign assistance, collaborative partnership, internationalisation, etc.), and critically, how they impact on academic staff, universities and national HE systems. Drawing on documentary data (e.g. government publications, financial transaction records, and university reports), these case studies illuminate the relationships of various bilateral, multilateral and private philanthropic entities providing assistance earmarked for HE and their impact on universities, research bodies, and government agencies in each country.

Collectively, these four presentations aim to empiricise and conceptualise the complexities of aid to HE and examine its outcomes in relation to the rising importance of HE in fulfilling the SDGs. Following a brief introduction to the project, panellists will present for 7-8 minutes each before opening up to the audience for a structured discussion centring on several key questions posed during the introduction. These questions concern locating the knowledge gaps for researchers and policymakers, as well as the spaces of alignment and disjuncture in the objectives and priorities of donors and their partners.

Opportunities and challenges of South-North partnerships for educational reform in sub-Saharan Africa

Pauline Rose; Ricardo Sabates, University of Cambridge; Lydie Shima (Laterite Rwanda); Emma Carter; Nidhi Singal, University of Cambridge; Mesele Araya, University of Cambridge/Addis Ababa University; Louise Yorke, University of Cambridge; Lilla Oliver, CAMFED; Luisa Ciampi, University of Cambridge

The past two decades has seen a surge of engagement and investment in South-North research collaborations driven by the Sustainable Development Goals. Literature attests to the strong potential for reciprocal advantages that such collaborations can bring. While recommendations for undertaking such research partnerships abound, most examples do not necessarily consider the perspectives of researchers and other stakeholders across contexts.

This symposium aims to address such gaps by discussing the experiences and learnings from three South-North research partnerships, in collaboration with foundations, governments and NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa. Following the three presentations below, Ricardo Sabates (REAL Centre, University of Cambridge) will offer reflections on lessons across these partnerships in order to open up for discussion.

The symposium addresses issues related to the politics of educational partnerships between global and local actors, including recognition of the importance of whose expertise counts, and contextualisation of research and interventions, as part of the Global-Local (Dis)Connections In Education Partnerships theme.


Reflecting on the opportunities and challenges arising from undertaking collaborative qualitative design and implementation in teams based across contexts: Experience of the Leaders in Teaching Initiative in Rwanda

Lydie Shima, Laterite Rwanda

Emma Carter, and Nidhi Singal, University of Cambridge

This presentation focuses on partnerships involving researchers based in Rwanda and the United Kingdom collaborating on the qualitative school-based component of the Mastercard Foundation-funded Leaders in Teaching Initiative in Rwanda. In this presentation we reflect upon the process of designing and implementing an extensive qualitative research project involving 507 participants, including 420 students. This involved multi-methods comprising of focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, narrative classroom observations, student documentation and photo-elicitation tasks. All this was undertaken during the time of COVID-19, with no possibilities of being in the same physical space to develop rapport between teams, hence varied approaches for meaningful engagement emerged, as we tried to harness the potential of on-line tools, with varying impact. The process also helped challenge some of the assumptions around “where the expertise lies” underpinning such partnerships and issues of agency and ownership among research teams.


Research-government partnerships for adapting priorities during COVID-19: Lessons from RISE Ethiopia

Mesele Araya, University of Cambridge/Addis Ababa University

Louise Yorke, University of Cambridge

This presentation draws on partnerships as part of the Research for Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Ethiopia (2017-2022) study. This involves longitudinal mixed-methods research that explores the design, uptake, and implementation of education reforms aimed at improving education quality with equity. It is embedded in partnership across a diverse team of international researchers based both within and outside Ethiopia. Engagement and communication with the Ethiopian government and donors have been a core component of the research. We reflect on the achievements and challenges of the research prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We consider the importance of strong South-North research partnerships and the significance of ongoing engagement with local stakeholders in enabling us to respond to rapid shifts taking place in Ethiopia. We outline how these partnerships allowed us to identify important and changing research priorities, to validate and improve the research findings and to achieve greater uptake of the research, particularly in the context of the pandemic. We further highlight the importance of having an in-depth understanding of the social, cultural, and political context of the research, and the need for flexibility and adaptability throughout the research process.


Learning from a research-NGO partnership: Scaling up CAMFED’s Learner Guide programme in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Lilla Oliver, CAMFED

Luisa Ciampi, University of Cambridge

The presentation examines a partnership between the REAL Centre and the NGO, CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), in developing research to inform scaling up and adoption of an NGO intervention into government systems. Specifically, the research aims to learn from governments in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe on the process of integrating CAMFED’s Learner Guide Programme into government systems in a sustainable and contextually relevant manner. The Learner Guide model is a community-based mentorship programme which aims to support girls to finish secondary school and then provide transition training to support meaningful post-school career opportunities and pathways. Our research will collect qualitative interview and observational data throughout the design process to understand how national, regional, and local partners prioritise and adapt elements of the learner guide programme. These data will also show how these processes vary between different contexts, and therefore how to ensure contextual relevance needed for long term sustainability. A key aspect of this work is the collaboration between CAMFED and the University of Cambridge together with researchers in each of the countries in the design and implementation of the research. Working closely together, the approach has benefits in terms of ensuring the research is of direct relevance to CAMFED and each of the national governments, while also ensuring independence of the findings.

Building partnerships to pilot educational innovations in Ethiopia

Irina Kudenko, Education Development Trust, UK, Clare Buntic, Education Development Trust, UK, Fekadu Mulugeta, TARGET programme lead, Ethiopia

The capacity to bring about education reform is distributed across many actors. Educational challenges have complex causes and involve conflicting goals. Solutions and positive action therefore rely on collaboration across global, national and local stakeholders. Building and managing inclusive partnerships is difficult and requires negotiation of outcomes, rather than a purely technocratic approach. It’s important to learn from the experience of existing partnerships about the challenges and ways to overcome them.

This paper draws on the experience of TARGET (2019-2023), the FCDO’s technical assistance programme in Ethiopia. TARGET works with state and non-state stakeholders at national and sub-national levels to improve school and system performance and address existing barriers to equitable access and quality education in Ethiopia. While the Ministry of Education (MoE) and local educational authorities are the principal partners and ‘change agents’, TARGET partners with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to pilot small-scale educational innovations in hard-to-reach geographies and with hard-to-reach populations.  These ‘model interventions’ are designed to generate evidence of what works to solve specific local problems, such as girls’ access to education in pastoral communities. The work is managed through Equitable School Improvement Fund (ESIF) which in 2021 funded seven CSO projects that jointly reached over 85,000 beneficiaries.

When setting up the fund, the partnership was challenged by a lack of trust from the MoE and other state agencies who questioned TARGET’s role as a partnership broker and wanted direct control over management of ESIF. Recruiting suitable CSO partners, addressing knowledge and skills gaps and balancing local intelligence with global evidence base constituted further challenges.  Solutions required continuous stakeholder engagement and in-flight adaptations.  With time ESIF became a successful mechanism for harmonizing conflicting priorities, ensuring cooperation, mutual accountability and shared learning. More CSO partners joined ESIF in 2022 expecting to reach 100,000 more beneficiaries.

Global aspirations, national policies and local context: the case of Kazakhstan

Gulzhanat Gafu, Nazarbayev University

This study provides a case study of Kazakhstan’s HE system, with its post-Soviet legacy, as it attempts to adopt global practices, such as establishing a world-class university. It discusses the government’s efforts to increase the global exposure of the national system as well as interinstitutional (dis)connection within the centralized HE system. Hence the paper provides a deeper understanding of the context that could possibly bring new theoretical insights on how the anticipated education collaboration between different HEIs types are institutionalized and organized within the national HE system. It does so by employing various lenses to discuss the interplay between the global, national and local based on both connections and tensions between these forces in contrast to the theoretical approaches that propose symbiosis and dynamic mutual and collaborative interaction.

The early care and education of deaf children and their caregivers in Ghana

Ruth Swanwick, University of Leeds; Daniel Fobi; Yaw Offei; Alexander Oppong University of Education, Winneba, Ghana

For young deaf children and their caregivers early care and education (ECE) provides a lifeline to language and communication, contact with other deaf people and sign languages, and access to hearing technologies. In economically rich countries this support is facilitated by early identification and prompt access to family-centred intervention. For most low-income countries, this starting point cannot be assumed, and context-sensitive models are needed.

This paper describes a UK-Ghana collaborative research project that investigates ECE for young deaf children and their caregivers in Ghana. The project is funded by the British Academy’s Early Childhood Education Programme, supported through the Global Challenges Research Fund. The aim of the project is to develop critical understandings of the social and resource contexts of young deaf children and their caregivers in Ghana, to inform the development of contextually sensitive approaches to early care and support.

The paper describes the research context and the ways in which the research team are working with families of deaf children, education and health practitioners, and deaf communities in Ghana, to investigate the contextual and social understandings of childhood deafness and responsive caregiving.

We describe the proximal and distal influences on early support and discuss the implications of these findings for the development of ECE that integrates with indigenous practices and knowledge. Specific attention is given to the importance of collaborative working and deaf leadership: We describe the multilingual materials developed by the project team to support caregivers of deaf children and discuss the role of deaf leaders in ECE, who can work in partnership with education and health practitioners to motivate families and serve as language and communication role models. Finally, our focus on partnership working and capacity building, and the steps that we have taken to develop scholarship and extend the ECE knowledgebase are described.

Implementing Model United Nations into local contexts: different conceptualisation of Global Citizenship Education

Yuemiao Ma, University of Edinburgh

Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation activity widely organised throughout the world, from its debut in 1945 in the USA following the founding of United Nations, to today under pervasive influence of globalisation. MUN was advertised to be a platform for students interested in international politics to forge closer links with the UN, but nowadays the purposes and targeted audience of MUNs can vary across time and place. Multiple literature has discussed the impacts of MUN on students regarding broadening international knowledge, enhancing skills, and developing attributes, which fall into the themes of Global Citizenship Education (GCE) (Bourn, 2018; UNESCO, 2014). However, these discussion on Global Citizenship (GC) and MUN are rooted in a Western background, and there has been debate on to what extent are these notions ‘global’ or representing the ‘United’ Nations. For example, the implementation of MUN into local contexts as an educational practice is influenced by multiple local stakeholders including governments, formal curriculum, particular organisers (can be universities, private companies, civil societies, etc.), and together they might form different conceptualisation of GC. I would not call this ‘reconceptualisation’ as there might not be a ‘new’ way of conceptualisation, but resistance and disparities can exist between the local and the global.

As part of my PhD research, I choose China, a non-Western context, to conduct a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of MUN-related texts to investigate the delineation of Global Citizenship and the power relations underlying different discourses, using Fairclough’s (1995) three-dimensional framework (text, situational context, and social practice). I will argue that MUN in China is added a layer of promoting and strengthening Chinese culture, instead of simply acknowledging and respecting multiple other cultures – the dominant understanding of GCE. Even though this might indicate the disconnection between global and local education partnership, it will contribute to our understanding of the socially structured, contextual and discursive nature of Global Citizenship Education.

Social Justice and Critical Pedagogies in Neoliberal Times: The Voices of Rural Secondary Teachers in Peru

Silvia Espinal Meza, University of Bristol

Over the previous three decades, social justice has become an increasingly salient theme in educational debates marked by the hegemony of neoliberal education. Although neoliberal governance has provided a model focused on investment and individual outcomes, this has only deepened inequalities, which persist in countries like Peru. The Peruvian case shows how injustices such as poverty, gender disparities and access to quality education affect rural population most severely. Within this scenario, a social justice approach through critical pedagogies emphasises the key role of education in fighting against these systems of oppression. In particular, teachers are relevant actors in addressing these challenges. However, in Peru their voices have been overshadowed by official channels and their deep-rooted marketisation.

To make these voices heard, this paper is focused on the understandings and practices of social justice in education through critical pedagogies of a group of secondary school teachers in rural Peru. Within a scenario of neoliberal policies marked by profound injustices, a critical perspective in education can offer a robust conception of social justice to address these persistent educational inequalities. This is aligned with the conference theme, as my paper will show new critical discourses on social justice in a neoliberal context. Likewise, the sub-theme on Global-Local (Dis)Connections in Education Partnerships fits with the paper in reconceptualising social justice in rural Peru from teachers’ narratives. Through reviewing the theoretical framework on the neoliberal model and social justice in Peru, this paper will discuss the following questions: How do rural teachers understand and practice social justice and critical pedagogies? In what ways these conceptions and practices come into tension with neoliberal policies in Peru?

The colonial legacy in education decentralisation policies: the case of Benin

Eva Bulgrin, WWU Münster, Germany

The decentralisation of education is a much-debated topic among policy researchers and practitioners. Decentralisation remains not only a core tool of International Organisations (IOs) for promoting democracy, good governance and economic development, but its advocates insist decentralisation is required for achieving the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recent reforms include, for example, market liberalisation, deregulation, privatisation and public-private partnerships (Cheema & Rondinelli, 2007).
Our paper critically investigates the assumption of policies of education decentralisation considering, in particular, the partnership of global and national actors – the Beninese government, development agencies and consulting firms – in the formulation process of the policy of education decentralisation in Benin. The findings suggest that this policy can be considered as a bricolage reflecting the policy influence of development agencies and consulting firms. More specifically, it argues that this policy is framed by a modern(its) understanding of the development and also reflects Benin’s (neo)colonial heritage.
We conclude that the colonial legacy in the decentralisation policy ignores Benin's social and cultural capital. The paper argues for an approach to education governance rooted in local contexts challenging uneven power relations between the global North and South. As such, the paper provides a critical perspective on the complex intersection between colonial legacies and global policies in the global South contexts. The paper concludes by arguing for an alternative policy imaginary and approach rooted in the South.

The Role of Ownership in Policy Learning: Lessons from an Indo-German Research Project on Quality in Vocational Education

Matthias Pilz; Julia Regel, University of Cologne and Business Education, University of Cologne/Germany

In India, the quality of vocational education and training (VET) has increasingly been questioned for the last two decades, resulting in numerous policies to improve the system on different levels. Such efforts included those inspired by foreign structures and international organisations’ schemes. Still, formal VET continues to display fundamental quality problems and UNESCO (2020) defines the disconnect between planned measures and the local context as one of the significant challenges that needs to be addressed.

This paper centres on the role of local context and ownership in reform activities by using the example of the cooperative development of an approach for quality measurement in Indian VET. The framework incorporates ideas of autonomous institutional quality management in line with international trends in school development, which are discussed and contrasted to local requirements. It is argued that ownership, defined as consensus among implementers about objectives, strategies and measures of a specific policy, enables sustainable implementation and thus policy learning. The paper aligns with the sub-theme of (dis)connections in education partnerships, and specifically issues of policy adoption and adaptation. It centres on the following research questions: How can an approach derived from international contexts meet national and local stakeholders´ needs and context conditions? How can ownership at the local level be realised with regard to quality management in institutions?

In this context, data based on a participative evaluation of the approach in 10 Polytechnic Colleges and Industrial Training Institutes each in Delhi and Bangalore, drawing on problem-centred interviews in the form of group discussions and further expert interviews to explore the institutional context. It is being argued that to enable sustainable policy learning in the given context, certain administrative context conditions would need adjustment. At the same time, aspects of the policy itself have to be reshaped to suit the specific conditions on site.

UNESCO. (2020). Vocational Education first. State of the education report for India 2020. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Delhi: UNESCO.

‘In and Out of Education’: Exploring marginalised Zimbabwean girls’ perspectives and agency in education

Jane Magaya, The Open University, UK

There have been concerted efforts on a global scale to improve the lives of girls through education, particularly girls characterised as marginalised. Underpinned mostly by a human capital and human rights framework, these efforts which have persisted throughout the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic, often present education as; something somehow readily available to girls, something they should value because of the potential future benefits to them and an answer to the circumstances that have led to their marginalisation. Seldom are these global views tested from the standpoint of the marginalised girls themselves, who are embedded in social, cultural and gender norms which derail the smooth process of education contemplated in these global views. Using the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, this presentation draws from an ongoing study which has sought to understand how marginalised girls who have transitioned through various forms of education, including both formal schooling and informal education, engage with education. Drawing from the lived experiences of six marginalised adolescent Zimbabwean girls, through narrative interviews and a participant-led photography activity, this paper argues that there are complexities involved in these girls’ lives and education experiences which should be highlighted, and their own agency in education, supported. Their own agency should play a central role in the choices they make in and through education. The findings in this study indicate that girls’ agency is interwoven with societal values, realities, attitudes, and expectations which interact with enabling and constraining factors at various points and conflate their choices and motivations regarding education as a pathway out of marginalisation. The Capability Approach (CA) by Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, and others, is employed in this analysis to explore how the girls can navigate these complexities within their context, in order to reconceptualise and re-operationalise education and its value to them.

Seen as Equals: an agency-inspired approach for understanding girls’ education in Pakistan

Soufia Siddiqi, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan; Aliya Khalid, University of Oxford

International commitments for gender equality in education have materialised in the shape of partnerships between the global (North) and the local (South) for this collective goal (G7 commitments to girls’ education and women’s empowerment). These partnerships often fail to view both sides as equals. On the one hand, an uninterrogated discourse on ‘girls’ education’ allows a flow of resources to the local context, on the other an imagery of the girl learner is invoked that paints her to conflict with her surroundings in seeking education. A deficit-discourse is created in which the ‘girl’ is constructed as non-agentive, embedded within a dominating hostile context. Recent work with youth and parents provides an alternative perspective showing that people have the potential of generating a unique form of agency in highly impoverished socio-economic structures (DeJaeghere, 2018). We (the authors) ask, how does the global imaginary approach the issue of girls’ education so they are seen as equal partners and actors in their own contexts?

This paper provides one way of questioning the power relations between the global and the local by analysing the educational aspirations of Pakistani youth and women in conditions of extreme inequality revealing their agency-potential. Drawing on our previous fieldwork with Pakistani youth (Siddiqui, 2017) and mothers (Khalid, 2020) we propose a reimagination of global-local partnership in which girls become visible as equals, capable of navigating their circumstances. We demonstrate that youth and mothers create a kind of ‘spacial agency’ with which they create opportunities while living within historic conditions of disadvantage. We further argue for a ‘glocal’ perspective on research partnerships that can introduce more transformational equity into relationships constituted between researchers (globally positioned) and the researched. This paper invites the global community to engage with unconventional forms of agency as an untapped source of insight into localised opportunity.

Politics and partnerships in doctoral research: exploring the doctorate as a site of resistance and struggle

Catherine Montgomery, Durham University, UK

This paper explores the politics of the educational partnerships engendered in doctoral research, focusing on the nature of knowledge construction between the global and local actors who are part of the structures and systems of international doctoral education. The paper casts doctoral research as part of the colonial encounter and presents it as marginalised or ‘Southern knowledge’ embedded in global divisions and long-standing patterns of inequalities in power, wealth, and cultural influence (Connell, 2007, p. 212). The paper rests on a two year funded research project examining international doctoral research as a coherent body of knowledge. Using the British Library’s digital repository EThOS, a collection of up to 500,000 doctoral studies carried out in British universities, the research analyses the theoretical, methodological and practical impact of international doctoral research for social and community organisations (Montgomery, 2019; 2020). In this paper, the research is extended to draw on a second repository, NARCIS, the repository in the Netherlands, which holds around 120,000 doctoral theses. Using a prototype of an artificial intelligence tool developed as part of the funded project, the paper presents the outcomes of an advanced natural language and clustering search of the repositories, focusing on the knowledge constructed in educational partnerships in international supervisory relationships. The analysis shows that across both the UK and Netherlands, the social and academic hierarchies embedded in universities’ structures of power theoretically and methodologically restrict knowledge generated in supervisory partnerships. Despite this, the paper presents examples of theoretical and methodological resistance in the theses. The research underlines the fact that doctoral research is highly institutionalised and knowledge partnerships are set within the fields and communities of the academy (Tuhiwai Smith, 2012), making it a struggle for doctoral students, particularly international doctoral students, to incorporate their own local knowledge, cultures and interests in their research.

Can unequal partners succeed with “matched efforts”? Lessons from UK-India partnerships in higher education

Jaya Goya, Independent researcher; Shrikant Wad, The University of Edinburgh

Through this paper, we contest the conventional notions of ‘matched effort’ and ‘mutuality’ in international higher education partnerships. We draw upon evidence from the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), a bilateral multi-stakeholder programme with its unique design and approach that aligns partners’ resources and capabilities to strengthen their academic and research collaborations. The paper delineates how the unique understanding of mutuality of benefit between the two inherently unequal partners leads to not only individual and transactional capacity building, but also institutional strengthening between the UK and India.

We adapt Elinor Ostrom’s Institutional and Development (IAD) framework to theoretically illustrate that the bilateral partnerships like UKIERI have successfully sustained because their rules and frameworks are grounded in co-creation and equity of resources with an active acknowledgement of the partners’ differences. The paper is arguably the first attempt to employ the lens of IAD to offer insights into motivations of actors, rules of engagement, resources, incentives, and outcomes of international bilateral partnerships. It assesses empirical evidence from 100+ partnerships on grant size, resources, and type of mutuality to highlight the best practices and nuances in the design of partnerships as institutional practices.

Through publicly available data, programme evaluation reports, and our individual perceptions as former leaders and practitioners in the UKIERI programme, the paper employs discourse analysis to capture the unique understanding of mutuality practiced by the UKIERI partners. It demonstrates how the ‘partnership engagement architecture’ of UKIERI determines its outcomes and mutuality. The paper further advocates the use of IAD framework for designing bilateral partnerships that can ensure mutuality, sustainability, and development of higher education stakeholders on both the sides.

Stratified Citizens: Urban and Rural Secondary School Students’ Connection and Disconnection of Global-local Partnership in English Language Education in Modern China

Hang Lu, Edinburgh University

In this paper, I focus on how English language education (ELE) policies in mainland China have been long implicated with discourses of globalisation and nationalism and then influence rural and urban ELE students’ (dis)connection of global-local partnership in practice. Drawing on a five-month ethnography in a rural and an urban junior secondary school, I divide my analysis into two parts. First, I analyse how ELE policies constitute the discursive construction of global-local partnerships. I identify two images of global-local partnership for China’s development in the neoliberal market, that is, global citizens and well-behaved citizens. Second, I trace the ELE practice in which different alignments with the two images are enacted and negotiated by rural and urban students. The analysis shows that urban students tend to imagine themselves as global citizens contributing to international communication and national development via ELE. Meanwhile, rural students position themselves with the image of well-behaved citizens believing that increasing their socioeconomic position within their local cultural community through ELE makes the same contribution to the country. Adopting Foucault’s (1988) notion of subjectivity, I argue that although both rural and urban students show strong connections with nationalism the ELE subjectivities of global and well-behaved citizens formulated under the policies manifest urban students’ connection with global-local partnership and the rural students’ disconnection with that partnership. This difference is anchored in the neoliberal conditions of modern China characterised by the disparities between rural and urban regions. Under such conditions, ELE facilitates the global mobility of urban students via enhancing their linguistic capital, whereas for rural students, ELE contributes to the rationalisation of the long-standing immobility faced by them. With this analysis, I argue that rather than mitigate the influence of globalisation by nationalism as intended, the ELE policies (re)produce the neoliberal stratification between rural and urban students in China.

An exploration of indigenous knowledge and higher education in South Africa

Emma Jackson, University of York and Open University, UK

With increasing calls to decolonise education across the globe, the inclusion of different knowledges in mainstream education has become a priority, with a particular focus placed on indigenous or local knowledges. Initiatives have included diversifying curriculum content and in some cases the creation of modules with a focus on more localised knowledges. However, these initiatives have rarely been undertaken in collaboration with indigenous communities or indigenous students, but rather have involved extracting and repurposing local knowledges for mainstream education.

This is the case with regard to South African higher education, where Colonialism, the apartheid vison and neoliberal pressures have had a powerful impact on. . New policies and values have been introduced by higher education institutions (HEIs) with the intention of transforming and decolonising their curricula and pedagogy. However, these have had limited success.

The present study deliberately utilises a collaborative approach as part of a decolonising methodology. Emphasis is placed on working alongside indigenous higher education students and the Guriqua community in South Africa to explore their experience of education, and to give them the opportunity to articulate how they interpret and view their indigenous knowledge and its role in mainstream education. I conducted semi structured interviews with staff and students at The University of the Western Cape and co-created digital stories with the Guriqua indigenous community. Digital stories enabled the participants’ voice to be heard in a way uninterrupted by the researcher, and through a medium (storytelling) that is valued in, and is part of, the traditions of the Guriqua community. This research adds to the critical research base on decolonisation by focusing on indigenous perspectives of received education,  their own knowledge, and how this knowledge can/should be used.

The influence of international funding on the Palestinian national curriculum’s representation of identity.

Tamam Quran

Palestine has been under colonial occupation for over seventy years, prior to that the British mandate and before that the Ottoman empire. Palestine as a state has yet to experience sovereignty and independence. Due to this political unrest, its economic independence has been nonexistent. Similarly, the first time a Palestinian national curriculum was only initiated after the Oslo Accords in 1993, and published in 2003. During this period of time, the globalization of education and policy sky-rocketed. Due to their economic standing, both editions of the Palestinian national curriculum were internationally funded and followed global policies; the first edition (published in 2003) followed EFA guidelines, and the second edition (published in 2017) followed SDG4 guidelines. This study examines the influence of international funding on the representation of identity within the Palestinian curriculum. More specifically, a deeper look into the influence of global neoliberal social identity on the Palestinian curriculum. The study is a comparison between the first (2003) and second (2017) curricula. Identity is most reflected in history, civics, and social studies textbooks. Furthermore, the study takes a CDA approach to examine the 9th-grade history, civics, and social studies textbooks. The critical discourse analysis looks at how social identity theory is reflected in the Palestinian curriculum due to pressures from TNC, IGO’s and other international funding organizations. The tools used to examine identity within the textbooks are mnemonics, local occasioning, and rhetoric. The findings show a shift in identity representation specifically towards a global human rights perspective. Although both curricula editions encompassed international policies they were still highly criticized and rejected by IGOs. While the first edition (2003), highlighted Palestinian identity as a part of the Muslim Arab nation. The second edition (2017) primarily focuses on Palestinian identity as a struggle for liberation following UN resolutions and laws.

Decolonization and Asian Epistemology: Reflections on Identity, Contradictions, and Inequality

Jack Lee, University of Edinburgh

Recent calls for the decolonization of the academy demands serious discussions on epistemology and inequality in global knowledge production. Asia's rapidly developing economies and demographic booms also impart rising confidence among Asian scholars and institutions to promote indigenous knowledge. Decolonization represents a broader demand for social justice on a global scale. While these calls for decolonization and epistemic emancipation are invigorating, decolonial scholarship is prone to sterile theorization, historical fixity, and an overt romanticization of the Global South. Using auto-ethnography, I present my experience as an academic of East Asian descent across five different spaces: 1) Northern Europe, 2) Toronto, 3) Southeast Asia, 4) Kazakhstan, and 5) the United Kingdom. I argue that decolonization must recognize epistemology beyond its textual form, theoretical deliberation, and policy discourse. Rather, epistemology as practice (lived experiences) reveals contradictions in decolonization and deep inequalities in indigenous knowledge. I suggest that true epistemic emancipation requires an integrative approach to knowledge that honors a cosmopolitan view of knowledge rather than a reductive or additive view that prioritizes geography and nationality. I also emphasize the primacy of identity and mobility in mediating knowledge production in the context of globalization.

School Choice and Equality of Opportunity in Nigeria: mapping school types and access to private schools in rural and urban areas.

Thelma Obiakor - London School of Economics

Currently, there is a robust market for private schooling in Sub-Saharan African (SSA). The growth in this sector has been extremely nuanced, in that private schooling is provided by a wide array of private sector suppliers (for example, religious bodies, universities, or individuals), and at varying costs. Over the past decade, much of the growth in the private schooling sector has been occurring in the 'low-cost' private school sector: privately run schools that cost less than quintessential private schools and claim to offer a better alternative to public schools.

While this sector is making substantial contributions to the expansion of educational access in SSA, the evidence on their role in reducing inequalities in educational opportunity is spare. In particular, the extent to which the availability of low-cost private schools improves schooling and learning among disadvantaged children in SSA is relatively unknown, and research remains inconclusive as to whether they offer a better alternative to public schools.

In this paper, I develop a methodology for classifying private schools into different cost categories based on household expenditure. Using a nationally representative data set, I apply this methodology to Nigeria to study the associations between socioeconomic, demographic, and spatial factors, and school choice/educational opportunity in Nigeria. The evidence suggests that low-cost private schools are failing to reach the poor and most vulnerable children. They disproportionately exclude children in rural areas and the Northern region of Nigeria, deepening inequality in access to schooling.

Finally in discussing the implications of my findings, I highlight the importance of prioritizing education partnerships that focus on expanding quality public schooling and improving accessibility for all.

Decolonising Research Practice: Five Narratives on Researcher Positionality, Power and Reflexivity from the Field

Camilla Hadi Chaudhary, University of Cambridge; Laraib Niaz, University of Cambridge; Kusha Anand, University College London; Eva Bulgrin, University of Sussex; Gunjan Wadhwa, Brunel University

This reflective piece highlights the importance of decolonial research practices and how they impact partnership building and researcher positionality in the field. Epistemic decoloniality is a way of thinking that recognises the value and equality of knowledge generated from diverse sources. Different writers have termed it varyingly whether it be DeSousa Santos’ crossing the ‘abyssal line’ (Santos, 2015) or Mignolo flagging the tokenisation of knowledge produced in the global south (Mignolo & Walsh, 2018). In this debate, the distinction between decoloniality and decolonisation thus becomes an area of concern where decolonising the process of knowledge creation is essential for epistemic decoloniality. However, there is a dearth of scholarship that addresses embedded coloniality within the research process. This paper argues that epistemic decoloniality begins with researcher positionality in the field and the ensuing partnerships with research participants.

Viewing the research process as a partnership between the researcher and participants, this paper unpacks researcher partnerships through the lens of decoloniality. Five early career researchers reflect on critical issues within negotiating positionalities and partnerships in their research experiences. Navigating multiple issues of positionality, the authors reflect on being situated in the global north while researching the global south. Concerns such as critical whiteness, embodied insider-outsider duality in everyday fieldwork interactions, negotiating ethics in the field, building partnerships to foster observations are some of the paper’s foci that are determined by the varied concerns of individual researchers. In this process, the paper positions itself within the space between decolonising the research process and epistemological decoloniality by centralising the relationship (partnership) between the researcher and the participants.

Language of instruction policy in Northern Uganda: learners’ experiences at the intersection of epistemic and everyday violence

Patricia Ajok, Gulu University, Lizzi O. Milligan, University of Bath, Expedito Nuwategeka, Gulu University

Ugandan Secondary school students are taught and assessed in English, an ‘anglonormative’ education system dictated by national and school-level policies (McKinney, 2018). This paper explores 32 learners’ experiences of (in)justice in their daily schooling practices at four secondary schools in Northern Uganda. Initial discussion of language of-instruction among learners focused on their missed learning opportunities through the use of a language that they did not fully understand, supporting the significant body of literature across East Africa on this topic. However, many learners went on to share feelings of fear of ridicule and punishment, including in the use of corporal punishment to ensure a English-only regime across the school. This paper will focus on this aspect of our data to consider the ways that these experiences place learners at an intersection of both epistemic and everyday violence, compounding the epistemic injustice that they encounter in their schooling. The data was generated through arts-based individual and group interviews and was analysed iteratively by multilingual Ugandan researchers and in collaboration across the research team, based in Uganda, Peru, Nepal and the UK.

Our paper responds to the conference theme by looking at the ways that language-of-instruction policies are understood and navigated by learners. It is also an output from a research-in-partnership. JustEd is a three-country and interdisciplinary collaborative study that is exploring the differences and intersections in how environmental, epistemic and transitional justice are taught and experienced in basic education in Nepal, Peru and Uganda.

Are we partners in the co-construction of knowledge? – Students’ perspective on using critical pedagogy in international classrooms

Jingyi Li, University of Edinburgh

Although the responsibility of education for social justice, in recent times, has been disrupted by the neo-liberal discourse, reflecting on the broader social and political context, the call for education globally to nurture thinkers with critical consciousness is ever-pressing (Giroux, 2016). It is particularly the case in Higher Education, which traditionally has played a significant part in the pursuit of greater social justice.

With the extending internationalisation, classrooms in the UK universities have become more culturally diverse, which has presented opportunities for students and staff to interrogate knowledge and assumptions from fresh perspectives (Volet & Ang, 2012). However, not all experience and knowledge may be valued equally in teaching and learning (Wang, Moskal and Schwisfuth, 2020). In an international classroom, the agenda of nurturing critical thinkers comes with the need to decolonise the curriculum, in particular, challenging the underlying Eurocentric assumptions in knowledge construction.

Critical pedagogy, which aims at impacting social change through education, offers a dialogical approach to empower learners and teachers to work collaboratively in learning. This research explores the feasibility of using critical pedagogy in international university classrooms by studying postgraduate students’ experience and their perceptions of the practice. The research analyses data collected through 15 interviews with postgraduate students and explores how students engage with social justice and critical thinking topics and negotiate their positions with tutors and their peers in learning.

There is evidence of an internalised hierarchy of knowledge. While embracing the opportunities to co-construct knowledge, students are tuned in with the unbalanced teacher-student power relations and dynamics among students of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Students draw on different strategies when engaging with topics perceived as controversial or sensitive in learning spaces. Teachers need to balance a safe and brave space for students to interrogate their own thoughts reflectively.

Africa’s Human Resource Partnerships with China and India: South-South Cooperation or One-Way Capacity-building

Kenneth King, University of Edinburgh

Both China and India have had long-standing human resource (HR) partnerships with Africa, at the Pan-African multilateral level with the Africa Union, but also bilaterally with many individual African countries. How equitable are these claims to South-South cooperation (SSC)? These partnerships cover many economic sectors, but capacity-building is a widespread, cross-sectoral component. The paper looks critically at the HR and soft power dimensions of what is claimed to be win-win cooperation.

For such cooperation, China and India have established Pan-African mechanisms – the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation which has met eight times since 2000; and the India-Africa Forum Summit, meeting three times since 2008. The Action Plans of these fora are full of pledges around capacity-building, HR development, and people-to-people cooperation. A central element in these is support to scholarships and training in China and India. There are no corresponding agreements for Chinese and Indians to train in Africa.

A crucial dimension of the former schemes has been face-to-face study in China and India. Covid has dramatically altered the scale of these, but they continue through online access. Arguably, however, it is the direct exposure to agriculture, science & technology and IT in China and India as students and trainees that is critical.

Another dimension of China and India’s partnership engagement with Africa is through their soft power resources, whether in culture, language, film or food. Again, these people-to-people engagements appear to be asymmetrical, with few illustrations of African soft power in China and India.

Despite capacity-building and SSC being identified as core components of SDG 17, it is necessary to drill down into the new political realities of HR cooperation with Africa, given the rise of Hindu nationalism and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

‘Decolonizing North-South partnerships in the context of international research on gender equality in education’

Maria Tsouroufli, Brunel University, UK

Decolonizing curricula alongside competing for gender and race equality accreditation schemes have become popular practices in the neo-liberal context of Higher Education in the UK and beyond. However, despite the leadership and/or substantial involvement of the UK in European and international research, less attention has been given to decolonizing partnerships and research processes and addressing epistemic and other forms of violence and marginalization within international research teams and inter/cross-cultural research contexts. In this presentation I draw attention to power relations in research synergies, design and process, including the approach to dissemination and project outputs. I draw on two large international projects about gender equality in education to critically reflect on the coloniality of gender, gender equality, and agency as emergent categories of analysis, as well as hegemonic performances within research teams. I discuss how international research opens up possibilities for neo-colonizations of knowledge and research, the perpetuation of North-South inequalities and configuration of ‘honorary’ or second-class scholars. It also opens opportunities to shift from intercultural blindness to a space of interbeing, to move the focus from the pathology of ‘others’ and self-gratifying discourses of saving the third world girl, to the examination of the ‘self at the centre of the dominant culture’ (Asher, 2003:235), and the examination of research practices, including practices of non-hierarchical leadership, fair distribution of resources, and collaborations that offer inclusive spaces for creating alternative forms of knowledge and appreciating contributions from all partners.

Spotlight on boys’ disengagement from education: Building a partnership on a neglected topic

Matthias Eck, UNESCO

This paper will discuss how UNESCO as part of its work on gender equality in and through education built a partnership to bring attention to a neglected and at times contested topic in education and international development: boys’ disengagement from education.

UNESCO started to review the situation globally, document good practice and spark collective action on boys’ disengagement from education, in 2019. UNESCO brought together various partners from bilateral development agencies, multilateral organizations, civil society organizations and academia to understand the economic, social and cultural factors that impact boys’ disengagement from education and to develop strategies to address this challenge. A technical consultation with partners was held and five country case studies were finalized in 2020.

These case studies fed into a global report on boys’ disengagement from education, published in 2022. The report brings together qualitative and quantitative evidence from over 140 countries. It provides an overview on the global situation on boys’ disengagement from and disadvantage in education. It identifies factors influencing boys’ participation, progression and learning outcomes in education. It also analyses responses by governments and partners and examines promising policies and programmes. It also includes recommendations on how to re-engage boys with education and address disadvantage.

While girls continue to face severe disadvantages and inequalities in education, the report shows that boys in many countries are at greater risk than girls of repeating grades, failing to complete different education levels and having poorer learning outcomes in school. No less than 132 million boys of primary and secondary school age are out of school. They urgently require support.

The report was launched with partners during a webinar and has gained considerable international media attention since.

Home-school partnerships during COVID-19: Kazakhstani parents’ experiences of homeschooling

Naureen Durrani, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan; Zhadyra Makhmetova, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted ‘normal’ schooling in Kazakhstan for a long time, placing substantial responsibility on parents to support the learning and broader wellbeing of their children in a context of substantial existing education disparities and the digital divide. Specifically, all schools shifted to online mode from 6th April 2020 until the end of the school year in June 2020. Most children were also schooled online or in the blended mode for most of the second pandemic year, and the Omicron variant partially impacted the third academic year. The paper uses a mixed-methods sequential exploratory design to understand how schools supported parents in mitigating the digital divide and supporting their children’s learning. First, a qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with 30 parents across three regions in the country was conducted. The qualitative data analysis led to the development of a contextually relevant online survey completed by 22317 parents, predominantly from low-income backgrounds and representing all regions of Kazakhstan. Data analysis is informed by intersectional theories, which stress that social categories such as gender, age, location, race, and class do not operate in isolation but simultaneously interact in complex ways, affecting our life trajectories, experiences, opportunities, and outcomes. Findings revealed the wide-ranging ways schools supported parents in creating a supportive learning environment at home. The vast majority of parents reported the school maintained regular and effective communications with them, predominantly via WhatsApp. The paper discusses how the school worked with parents to ensure all students learn, particularly those from marginalised backgrounds. Furthermore, how parents engaged in supporting schools during online learning is analysed. Despite the significant contribution of parents to their children’s learning and experiencing substantial stress during homeschooling, specific groups of parents reported a negative impact of the pandemic on their children’s education. Implications for home-school partnerships are discussed.

‘North-South’ Partnership for Teacher Education: Decolonizing Knowledge Hegemonies

Madhumita Bandyopadhyay, National Institute of Educational Policy and Administration, Delhi; Manish Jain, Dr B. R. Ambedkar University Delhi; Savita Kaushal, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi; Mythili Ramchand, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; Yusuf Sayed, University of Sussex; Gunjan Sharma, Dr B. R. Ambedkar University, Delhi; Neeru Snehi, National Institute of Educational Policy and Administration, Delhi; Simon Thompson, University of Sussex

This paper is based on the experience of a group of academics from diverse institutions in the global North and South of designing a module that critically analyses global teacher education policy and practice for equity in education. Located in a critical policy perspective, the module seeks to foreground alternative Southern knowledge and methodologies. It is an outcome of a multi-institutional partnership that concentrates on developing a decolonized perspective on teacher education while advancing knowledge, skills and dispositions of participants from the global North and South to provide equitable educational opportunities at the school level. The module primarily aims to draw participants from the partnering institutions into critical engagement with global, national and regional policies concerning teacher education and teachers’ work, while systematically building on the bodies of knowledge relevant for the global South. Framed within historic and conjunctural inequities of exchange and collaboration, this module seeks to challenge the established knowledge hegemonies with a taken for granted unilateral flow of knowledge from the global North to South and from creators of knowledge as primarily located in global North institutions.

Drawing on the experiences and data from different module design stages, this paper examines how competing interests and agendas were negotiated by the partners while highlighting key tensions and contradictions that mediated the process. Particular attention is paid to how such interests and agenda are shaped by conventional and new hegemonic pressures on the institutions, agencies and actors involved that may sometimes act against the development of equitable North-South partnerships. The paper further reflects on how these negotiations are sutured in the module that is developed. It concludes by drawing out the implications of this analyses for the broader field of partnership in an increasingly unequal world in which colonial hegemonies in knowledge forms and partnerships persist and endure.

Traversing edu-peace: uncertainty and the contours of conflict

Lindsey Horner, University of Edinburgh; Elizabeth (Liz) Maber, University of Cambridge

Starting from the words of St. Pierre, who says we are always collaborating when we do research, this paper situates itself in the inherent reciprocity and community that we engage in when we are interested in producing knowledges – in our case around peace. While recognising the multiplicity of types/ways of collaboration, we focus on efforts undertaken through education as a means to work towards peace and the networked collaboration of the edu-peace worker to develop a theoretical lens of edu-peace. We explore and expand this notion of edu-peace, which emerged through collaborative work with multiple scholars. Much of our lives and work over the last 15 years have been situated in contexts of conflict, working and researching in partnership with scholars and communities affected by militarisation, violence and forced displacement. In these sensitive contexts we maintain that a sense of dire necessity within our field sometimes diminishes our time to reflect, identifying ‘a fundamental anti-theoretical edge to these urgent injunctions’ (Žižek, 2008, p. 6). Theory is important because it helps understand from different perspectives, see the nuances of the situation, and because solutions are found in how we approach something (our theory) in the first place. With theory as our guide we explore the hyphenated space performed in edu-peace: its nature, characteristics and potential. The hyphen works to separate the very thing it is merging and therefore while at the centre of the term it actually unsettles and decentres it. The bridge between the two concepts works to network between different communities in a hyphenated space that houses an interpretive process.  We offer a theoretical discussion of the aspects of hybridity; borderlines; inbetweeness and becoming to seek out examples of how one can work in them, drawing out the qualities and the means of the edu-peace worker.

Partnerships in and through ‘Basic Education School Boards’ in southern Thailand: A modality for promoting peace or fuelling conflict?

Chawin Pongpajon, UCL Institute of Education

To promote peacebuilding through and in education, particularly in conflict-affected environments, the role of schools in (re-)building relationships between conflicting groups as a modality of change has been discussed as a key factor. Based on this idea, this presentation is a preliminary analysis to answer how the two different school types—public and Islamic private—build partnerships with communities to support educational activities at schools through the Basic Education School Boards (BESBs) as required by the National Educational Act of Thailand to promote decentralised education and what challenges the schools have faced while working with their boards. Drawing upon interviews with sixteen members of four BESBs equally purposively selected from the two school types, this presentation reveals two main findings. Firstly, public schools as the Thai-Buddhist state’s assimilation equipment tend to appoint community members (but not school members) on the board and make a balance between Thai-Buddhists and Malay-Muslims to gain support from both, retain the number of students and avoid being targeted from insurgents. They, however, have a challenge in fairly including board members’ voices into account to prevent deep resentment of the members who are more likely to perceive things religiously politically involved as affected by the conflict. Secondly, the Islamic private school boards are all comprised of Malay-Muslims and most are the principals’ relatives and teachers in their schools. This is primarily because the schools are for Malay-Muslims and operated as a family business. This selection strategy for the board membership makes the management more agile and profitable. Islamic private schools should hence provide more engagement in school decision-making processes for the community members who do not have conflict of interest with the schools; however, whether Thai-Buddhists should be part of the boards is their challenging question. Arguably, using BESBs to establish school-community partnerships for relationship (re-)building as an educational means of peacebuilding in southern Thailand could be counterproductive unless the ideas of equitable recognition and representation are fully accounted. So, what is the implication for policies or school governance?

Building Capabilities of Youth through participatory oral history: A Palestinian Case Study

Mahmoud Soliman, Laura Sulin, Coventry University; Ecem Karlidag-Dennis, University of Northampton

This paper sought to explain how a participatory oral history project enabled youth researchers in Palestine to increase their capabilities to participate in political and social life in their communities by fostering their attachment to the land and by increasing understanding of their cultural heritage.

The paper is based on a research project that was an intergenerational study, where youth researchers between 18 t0 28 years old interviewed elderly people from their communities in the South Hebron Hills, Palestine, and interacted closely with them. The research project consisted of three components: (1) cultural heritage protection, (2) training and capacity-building, and (3) advocacy and education. The project aimed to further enable the youth researchers’ capabilities by using Participatory Video methods to preserve and protect their lived cultural heritage and its relationship to the land.

In this paper, drawing from the capabilities approach (Sen 1999; Nussbaum 2000) and reflecting on Fricker’s (2007) epistemic (in)justice, we argue that, due to the occupation, Palestinian youth researchers have been exposed to epistemic inequalities. They have been systematically prevented from exercising their political functionings; they cannot voice their ideas on freedom, heritage and land.   While acknowledging the intersectional power dynamics and oppression that governs youth researchers' lives, the paper explores the possibility of participatory research in redressing epistemic injustices caused by structural inequalities and disrupting colonial relations of dominations. Findings showed that through participatory research, the youth researchers can take an active role in their communities to cultivate their epistemic abilities to be the narrators of their own stories and to create public advocacy.

The research indicates that even in politically fragile contexts participatory research can promote critical reflection, challenge the social imaginaries stigmatising the youth, and provide opportunities for social and public advocacy, and for more epistemic justice.


Fricker, M. 2007. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sen, A. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The role of the Syrian Diaspora academics and researchers in re/building the higher education sector in Syria

Oudai Tozan, University of Cambridge

In this paper I will present findings from my ongoing PhD work which explores the potential role of the Syrian Diaspora academics and researchers in re/building the higher education sector in Syria. Through interviewing 20 Syrian academics in the UK, my research aims to unpack the relationship between Syrian Diaspora academics and their homeland, as well as their capacity and motivation to contribute to education development back home.  It also aims to explore the barriers/enablers for this, including how the Syrian Diaspora academics can build partnership and collaborate together and with those colleagues who stayed inside Syria to develop the higher education sector. By the time of the conference, data collection and initial analysis will be complete.  This paper will also draw on two articles that have been submitted for publication. The first is a systematic review of literature on the impact of the Syrian conflict on the higher education sector in Syria. The second is an analysis of the evolution of the HE Sector in Syria from 1902 to 2022. My analysis reveals that the sector has moved from being a tool of independence from colonialism to a tool of domination by authoritarian regime.

Radical pedagogy and the struggle for 21st century socialism in Colombia: A revolutionary praxis for the making of revolutionary subjectivities

Patrick Kane, University of Sussex

What might 21st century socialism look like in the era of decoloniality? And what role can pedagogy play in bringing it about? In a violent context of militarised neoliberalism such as that of Colombia, in which the structural legacy(ies) of colonialism continue shape the concrete everyday realities of indigenous, afro-descendent and peasant communities, what might a revolutionary decolonial praxis look like?

Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be an activist: according to the NGO Indepaz, 280 social leaders or activists were assassinated during 2020, including human rights defenders, community and neighbourhood leaders, trade unionists, environment activists, indigenous and afro-Colombian leaders. Despite extremely high levels of political violence and repression over recent decades, the country’s vibrant , diverse social movements and civic sectors have not only sustained themselves and their struggles, but have also produced sustained periods of mobilisation around a wide range of issues throughout this period, nowhere more than in the southwest of Colombia.

The Universidad Intercultural de los Pueblos (Intercultural University of the Peoples, UIP) is a social movement led popular education initiative which seeks to build unity, collaboration and capacity within and between diverse social movements and sectors in southwest Colombia. This pedagogical strategy stretches back two decades, and has evolved over time in relation to the ever-changing conjunctures and requirements of social movements and trade unions in a region where they have been systematically targeted by the state and its paramilitary allies.

I will argue that the UIP is the result of dynamic processes of social movement learning, and that this intercultural pedagogical initiative has been shaped by its proximity to the concrete struggles of the movements which are part of it. This proximity to struggle, along with the participation of diverse marginalised subjects, from indigenous and afro-descendent communities to trade unions and urban collectives, have aided the emergence of what I will argue is a decolonial praxis for the 21st century, able to overcome many of the detrimental binds which have plagued revolutionary theory and praxis, such as the false choice between prefigurative organising and confronting hegemonic power structures; the overlooking of non-academic knowledges; and the false separation between emotion and reason.

This talk is based on the findings of an ESRC-funded project exploring social movement learning processes across 4 countries. The co-produced Colombia case study involved the protagonists of the intercultural university in developing and implementing the research process using the systematisation of experiences methodology.

Prefiguring Post-National Identities through popular education: Insights from The Peoples Democratic Congress (HDK), Turkey

Birgul Kutan, University of Sussex

This paper explores the learning and knowledge-making processes of the HDK (People’s Democratic Congress) a Turkey based social movement that emerged in 2012 and united the political left and Kurdish liberation movement alongside feminist, ethnic, and sexual minority groupings. In a short period of time, the movement galvanized oppositional struggles in Turkey, created its own successful political party, and projected forward of post-nationalist, democratic and inclusive vision through prefigurative political praxis that evidenced in the present what could be achieved in the future. Building on the pathbreaking work of Mahmoud Mamdani (2020), this paper explores the tension between nation and state relations, and evidences how grassroots movements can create the conditions under which inclusive political relations between ethnic, cultural, religious and political minorities can be constructed from below. In doing so, it demonstrates the way social movements, through prefigurative politics, can address ongoing tensions between state building and respect for diversity and lay the foundations for peace with social justice. Drawing on a 3-year participatory research process, involving interviews, focus groups, and workshops with leaders and activists, the paper will evidence how HDK learns and makes knowledge, the types of learning and knowledge that occurred, and the effect of that knowledge and learning on both the movement itself and the broader society. A movement that contained within it a politics of hope that despite suffering massive repression over recent years, still shines a light forward to alternative possibilities and more egalitarian futures.

Reconceptualising Violence in International and Comparative Education: Revisiting Galtung’s Framework

Julia Paulson, University of Bristol; Leon Tikly, University of Bristol

Violence  is pervasive and ubiquitous in education systems. This includes the directly observable effects of violent conflict on education as well as of corporal punishment and of racialised, sexualized, homophobic and ableist bullying. It also includes the impact of different forms of structural inequality including those based on class, race and gender on educational opportunities and outcomes and forms of cultural violence that privilege some languages, identities and versions of social reality whilst marginalising and erasing others. Taken together, these forms of violence have the effect of severely constraining the opportunities available to millions of learners in education systems around the world. Yet the full extent of violence in education is rarely acknowledged or given the prominence it deserves. The limited discussion of violence within mainstream comparative and international education (CIE) scholarship contributes to a wider phenomenon of the ‘invisibilisation’ of violence in policy and research.
A key contributing factor is the absence of an holistic conceptual framework that can capture the nature, extent and causes of violence in education. The paper proposes such a framework, by updating Johan Galtung’s model of direct, structural and cultural violence in dialogue with theoretical work from the social sciences and humanities. This dialogue affirms the importance of each form of violence and the interconnections between them but proposes a deeper appreciation of the depth ontology of violence and a reappraisal of Galtung’s ideas about the visibility and invisibilisation of violence. The paper explores the utility of the framework by using it to explore the so called ‘learning crisis,’ which it argued may be more accurately considered a crisis of violence. In doing so, it raises questions about CIE research and policymaking practices, including the prospects for challenging violence within the partnerships that underpin knowledge production, research and the drive to solve policy problems.

Co-constructing understandings of Peace and Justice: Emerging learning from the Peace and Justice Network

Tejendra Pherali; Laila Kadiwal; Elaine Chase, University College London

In conflict-affected societies, historically marginalised ethnic and religious minorities and indigenous populations repeatedly encounter deep systemic injustices including unjust and exploitative systems that supress identity, discriminate and deny existence of minorities and exclude them from political and economic participation. For oppressed and marginalised communities in culturally and territorially contested spaces, peace is concerned with their political freedoms, economic redistribution, reparations, land repatriation, recognition of their interconnected and silenced histories and cultures, respect for human rights and an inclusive political environment in which they can exercise these rights and fulfil their life goals.

The AHRC-funded ‘Peace with Justice Network’ brings together in dialogue marginalised communities in politically hostile environments from diverse contexts in order to contribute towards the processes that transform conflicts, as highlighted by the 2021 UN ‘International Year of Peace and Trust’ (UN, 2021). The network, comprises representation from communities in Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, India, Mexico, Guatemala and Turkey.  Through online exchanges and symposia, it facilitates the exchange of knowledges and voices of disadvantaged and politically repressed communities about their struggles for peace and social justice, harnesses interconnected indigenous experiences; and builds solidarity across participating organisations. Our approach is informed by ideas of ‘epistemic justice’ and ‘critical rights literacy’ which seek to recognise ethnic and indigenous movements as the sites of knowledge production and ‘laboratories of learning’ for peace and social justice (Novelli et al, 2021). This paper will present emerging insights from these dialogues in relation to (i) how across these contexts peace is threatened by repressive states and armed groups that promote homogenising political visions, neoliberal capitalism and monolithic national identities at the expense of diverse and interconnected cultural subjectivities; (ii) what might constitute territorial, political and cultural justice within and across these contexts; and (iii) implications for theory, policy and practice for building peace, justice and trust guided and led by the knowledge and lived experiences of indigenous marginalised communities.

Investigating the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in designing multi-religious curricula in Pakistan: a case of tokenism or genuine participation?

Camilla Hadi Chaudhary, University of Cambridge

Islamic education is a central pivot of Pakistan’s education, taught as a separate subject, and purposefully included in many subjects. The curriculum foregrounds Islamic interpretations to the extent of equating national identity with being Muslim. Such an agenda naturally ‘others’ non- Muslim students who face educational and social marginalisation. Civil and human rights groups have long identified this as violating the constitutional and human rights of religious minorities.

In an attempt to redress these and other inequalities in the system, recent proposed reforms conceptualise a unified education system, coining it the Single National Curriculum (SNC). The proposed SNC includes curricula on five other religions in a move towards religious pluralism in education. This paper reflects on the politics and process of designing these curricula that operationalized an inclusive partnership between the government, religious organisations, and civil rights groups (who have been arguing for its promulgation for decades). Based on interviews of selected stakeholders of the curricula from all three groups, this paper unpacks this partnership that is groundbreaking in the historical, social, and political context of Pakistan. It reflects on the uniqueness of its going ahead in an atmosphere rife with opposition to the SNC from wider stakeholders in the country, but also on the combination of transparency and obfuscation in its conceptualisation and dissemination. To that end, it critiques the partnership through Arnstein’s (1969) typology of citizen participation. While highlighting its symbolic importance for future public-private partnerships in Pakistan, the paper also flags areas of critical compromise enforced on the non-governmental partners that investigates the tokenistic nature of the partnership. The paper questions the extent to which this may hamper the sustainability of these curricula and motivation for future collaborations. Finally, it investigates the notion of conflict as embodied in the everyday lived experiences of Pakistan’s religious minorities.

Educated borderlands: A narrative inquiry into what influences the moral perspectives of Kashmiri youth

Aarthi Srinivasan, Auckland University of Technology

Partnerships have a significant role in education and development of youth in conflict regions. The influence of these partnerships on youth living in a protracted state of conflict and their future in these regions, is dependent on the nature of the conflict, exposure to violence and the historical context of the region. In this presentation, I highlight the role of educational partnerships in Kashmir in their moral decision making, drawing on the voices of Kashmiri youth who have grown up amidst violence and oppression. Based on a phenomenological framework and a narrative methodology, findings from interviews with youth hailing from different parts of Kashmir, question the efficacy of international partnerships in education. Echoing the findings of similar conflict studies, the Kashmiri youth emphasised the disconnection between their educational needs and challenges, and resources offered by international organisations. The participants expressed greater faith and trust in the educational support offered by local grassroot-level organisations and their awareness of the needs of Kashmiri youth. The participants educational ambitions were stifled by instability, conflict, and political interference in education. This research questions the links between the roles of de-contextualised international partnerships in Kashmir, the under-resourced grassroot-level local organisations, and the participants’ moral decision making. It foregrounds the otherwise marginalised and silenced perspectives and voice of Kashmir’s youth. I suggest implications of this study for youth in other conflict regions.

Power, partnerships and politics in international education: Critical reflections of ECR positionalities

Isha Dilraj, University of Cape Town; Christine Ellison, Ulster University; Helen Murray, University of Sussex; Vanessa Ozawa, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Despite increasing engagement in the critical analysis of the field of education, conflict and international development, it is yet to fully escape its hierarchical, patriarchal, and colonial underpinnings.  This paper explores the reflections and experiences of five Early Career Researchers (ECRs) who were brought together by our involvement with the Political Economy of Education Research Network (GCRF funded project), a partnership between four universities in Kazakhstan, South Africa, Northern Ireland and England.  As five researchers who enter the field of international education, conflict and development from very different positionalities and perspectives in different regions across the world, but who navigate the project through a shared purpose and goal, we reflect both individually and jointly as a means to navigate the multifarious and comparative nature of our work.

Grounded in decolonial and critical literatures, we scrutinize the who, why and how of research in international education. We reflect upon our own trajectories to provide a reflexive account of our own positions within the field, the project and wider higher education landscapes. Through the lenses of gender, language, educational and professional backgrounds, race, class, nationalities and histories, we interrogate both the divergences and commonalities in our journeys and collaborations in a reflexive approach to the realities of knowledge co-production.

The paper, therefore, aims to foreground our personal experiences as a means to exemplify the challenges which exist in the field. The critical and reflexive insert of our different perspectives and experiences add a layered dimension to exploring the challenges of researcher positionality in an already complex field. We are going to raise critical questions about the current state of international education and development, the role of ECRs in an increasingly precarious higher education landscape and the potential for transnational relationships to help navigate a field laden with unequal power relations.

Creating partnerships for promoting in-school collaboration

Md Shajedur Rahman, Open University, UK; Mohammad Abu Bakar Siddik, National Academy for Primary Education - NAPE, Bangladesh

Teachers’ collaboration is a form of partnership that is often undervalued in the discourse of educational partnership. Yet, such micro-level partnerships have been identified as one of the influential and cost-effective ways for teachers’ professional development, changing teaching-learning practices and improving educational experiences for teachers and learners. Hence it is an important aspect of the teacher development area in Low and Middle-income counties.

However, the existing literature in this area, predominantly produced in the western context, narrowly focuses on the interactions in formal spaces such as meetings, coaching etc. My ethnographic study in a rural primary school in Bangladesh evidenced that teachers understood collaboration as a matter of their day-to-day activities, which are not restricted to formal professional interactions but also include a range of informal, professional, social and emotional activities. Teachers were involved in planned and unplanned collaborations with the majority of them being unplanned social conversations. According to the participants, collaboration lies in their social relationship which is underpinned by the closely knitted social structure. While this context offers potential for rich and spontaneous partnership, in most cases, these collaborative activities are not harnessed professional learning.

Based on the findings, we proposed a Framework for Professional Collaboration (F4PC), involving four stages- Sharing, Critical-building, Evaluation and Recording to promote focused professional collaboration which enables them to use their sociocultural spaces for collaboration without limiting their autonomy. The framework was recently / subsequently validated through three face to face workshops with 45 primary teachers from 3 geographic divisions in Bangladesh.

We have now established a partnership among researchers and government agencies to promote this framework as existing literature shows that administrative support is crucial for establishing and continuing collaborative practice in schools. Our current presentation reports on the partnership to promote professional teachers’ partnership in Bangladeshi primary schools.

‘Winging it’ or developing new forms of practice? Exploring the boundary work in an international education endeavour

Freda Wolfenden, The Open University, Jennifer Agbaire, The Open University

Productive collaboration in international education partnerships frequently requires experts to step beyond their customary domains of expertise and cultural worlds. In a recent collaboration we found developing and sustaining interactions across different practices particularly challenging. This prompted periodic team discussions and reflections: was it the remote working necessitated by the pandemic? too great a gap in epistemic or organisational cultures? unhelpful policy influences? or perhaps the innovative nature of our joint work? Our collaboration centres on supporting and studying groups of primary school leaders in under-resourced contexts around the world; the school leaders identify and analyse problems of practice in their school communities and devise, plan and enact their own small scale improvement cycles to address these problems.
Collective and individual reflections and actions captured in team meeting records and observation notes over an 18-month period offered us data to explore the evolution of our collaboration, our unresolved problems and successes. Drawing on a cultural historical perspective, our study aims to develop a fine grained understanding of the experiences and developing expertise of colleagues as they attempted to move across boundaries to seek and give information, assistance or tools in the joint work (Engestrom et al, 1995): boundaries between specific groups of colleagues (researchers and development practitioners), and within groups, for example between researchers from different disciplines. Through activity at these boundaries sociocultural differences become significant, experienced in action and a potential resource for learning and practice transformation.
Our multimedia presentation, including the voices of team members, illustrates how this focus on boundaries helped us to understand obstacles to our joint work and to start to identify the specific interactive processes - intentional and unplanned, employed by groups and individuals, and the mediating artefacts which support new or hybrid practices for sustained boundary crossing and mutual learning in the partnership.

Using multi-level collaborative research and knowledge exchange partnerships to explore rural primary teachers experiences of EdTech for teacher development in Bangladesh.

Tom Power, The Open University, UK; S M Hafizur Rahman, University of Dhaka; Claire Hedges, The Open University, UK; Md. Nure Alam Siddique, University of Dhaka

Research on the use of EdTech for teacher development in low- and middle-income countries is growing. Educational needs are often greatest in marginalised low-income rural communities, yet most studies in this area do not focus on the needs of teachers or students in such communities.

Few EdTech studies examine the roles of communities of practice in rural schools, despite ample evidence showing the importance of school level collaboration and co-operation for teacher development.

This paper presents a novel research approach for examining the educational needs of teachers and students in marginalised rural communities, and the processes of using EdTech at-scale for teacher development in Bangladesh.

Innovative approaches to collaborative practice in research and knowledge exchange operate at three levels:
Firstly, the research adapts Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation Research (PEER) methods, previously used in health, co-opting rural primary teachers as ethnographic field-researchers to explore and evidence the experiences of peers within their communities.

Secondly, the PEER teacher-researchers will explore the role of communities of practice within local schools, in translating numeracy practices advocated through EdTech resources into teaching and learning practices within their schools.

Thirdly, the research leadership team and PEER teacher-researchers will use evidence cafes—a novel form of equitable knowledge exchange—to engage policymakers, educators and rural teachers throughout the research, from inception to completion. Iterative cycles of research will use the evidence cafes to collaboratively make sense of emerging evidence, refine the questions and methods for the next cycle of research, and identify recommendations for policy and practice.

The research will contribute evidence as to how new collaborative processes can get better traction with policymakers and educators, and enable the voices of rural teachers to be heard and acted upon in strengthening policy and practice in the use of EdTech for teacher development.

From deconstruction to re-construction of the Common Good: representation, asymmetries, and the prospect of collaborative knowledge in the post-pandemic era

Patricio Langa, University Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique; Yann Lebeau, University of East Anglia, UK

Within the broader debate on the emancipation and representation of knowledge in the ‘Global South’ through a process of epistemic decolonisation, this presentation reviews some of the challenges towards the creation of knowledge and education as public good through international collaboration in research and research capacity building.

Drawing on a critical analysis of our own collaborative experiences in doctoral and early career development, we proceed to illustrate how the asymmetries of power in the worlds of science and higher education are perpetuated or even accentuated by unequal conditions of knowledge production and epistemic accessibility to meaningful and ‘powerful’ knowledge across the ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’.

Our focus on universities and on international stakeholders informs a discussion of the challenges, as experienced in the ‘Global South’, to the prospect of establishing knowledge as an equally distributed form of capital, relevant to contexts and capable of sharing principles and methods towards a diversity of aims.

We conclude by suggesting practical ways of addressing pervasive injustices in international collaborative knowledge and education enterprise, with specific reference to the window of opportunity paradoxically left by the disastrous effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on knowledge production systems globally.

Parents-Preschools’ relationship to promote parental engagement in children’s early learning at home: a case study of rural Tajikistan

Zarina Muminova, University of Edinburgh

This research explores parents’ and educator’ perceptions of parental engagement in children's learning and its influences on their relationships.

Research on studying parental engagement agree on the importance of parents – (pre)schools’ collaboration to help children’s learning. However, there appears to be a mismatch between how parents engage with children at home and what preschools expect from them.

This study employed a case study approach (Yin, 2018) to investigate the topic and used qualitative research tools like interviews and children’s video-diaries to collect relevant data. To ensure participants’ agreement and anonymity, it used informed consent form and pseudonyms. Parents are also asked to create video-diaries, allowing them to delete images/footages they did not wish to disclose; this also eased the ethical consideration for using the ‘home’ as a research site.

The findings demonstrate that educators understand parental engagement based on western or industrialised society assumptions of what parents are supposed to do at home with their children to support them in their learning. However, parents engage children in various naturally occurring learning opportunities different than what preschool and formal education do. By employing Luis Moll’s (2019) funds of knowledge theory, this research shows a range of ways in which parents and families engage with children’s learning and development within rural households, and how this could be utilised or banked on by preschool educators.

The outcome of this study will help Tajikistan policymakers and educators to rethink the concept of parental engagement based on the various level of engagement children have access to according to the rural context they live in, to enhance parents-preschool relationships.

This presentation is linked to the Experiencing Education Partnership sub-theme and contribute to understanding how the preschool envisage and promote parental engagement practices and how children are experiencing learning opportunities at home.

The ‘pivotal’ role of the ‘School Buddy’ in the development of a non-formal, community-based, education programme in Zimbabwe.

Stephen Harrison; Sheila Curran; Alison Buckler, The Open University, UK

The School Buddy role was established to support the development of the Strengthening Adolescent Girls Education (SAGE) programme, an Accelerated Teaching and Learning (ATL) programme in Zimbabwe. This paper explores the significance placed on the role from the perspective of a community educator who has benefited from the support the role offers.

This paper examines the various roles and functions performed by the School Buddy role highlighting its multifaceted contribution to the ongoing development and success of the Sage ATL programme.

School Buddies are recruited from local schools and support the development of ‘Learning Hubs’ and their volunteers (Community Educators and Learning Assistants). Whilst not holding direct managerial responsibility for the work of the Hubs the School Buddy role has not only provided direct mentoring and support to volunteers, but through cooperative and collaborative approaches has also played a pivotal role in establishing the credibility of the programme in the wider community.

A single case perspective is adopted to provide an authentic account from practice.  Whilst the limitations of such an approach are clear in terms of generalisability, what is offered is a unique, authentic perspective on how the ‘School Buddy’ role has manifested in context and illustrates the potential such roles can play in similar ‘ground up’ initiatives.

The Changing Teaching-Learning Discourse in India: Exploring the Emerging Public-Private Partnerships

Harshita Sharma, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, India

Post-pandemic literature has well established the learning-gap across different levels of education in most countries around the world including India, where virtual-learning substituted the in-person school-education. The sudden-shock raised concerns on quality of education, teacher-training, learning-readiness, peer-learning and social-isolation in developed world; the countries in the Global South like India had added basic access-related barriers like low digital-literacy, digital-divide, mass-migrations etc. in India. The world is slowly recouping from the pandemic, as is the Indian-education-system. There have been multiple efforts to minimise access-barriers and maximise opportunities for learning for all stages especially at the school-level. The paper examines the effort the government and its institutions in India have taken to bridge the widened learning gap.

In most cases, academics condemn the private-tutoring-industry for extensive commercialisation, exclusionary-practices and profit-maximisation strategies. Unlike before, formal-institutions are now seeking partnerships with these tutoring agencies for their strategic reach, approach and contributions to student-learning. The exercise is directed to reach the earlier learning equilibrium, which although was not an ideal case but showed much more promise in relative terms. Franchise tutoring bodies (like Khan Academy, Vidya Mandir Classes etc.) have been approached to enhance equitable access to quality education and address the learning-needs of public-school students. A comparative case-study design examines the role of this public-private partnership, ensuring that ‘cases’ are not measured against a universal-yardstick or pitted against-one-other, rather appreciated for their variations and contributions across Indian states.

The paper discusses both privatisation of existing-formal-schooling-sector and growth of private-informal-institutions.  It explores the debate around the welfare-state’s responsibility to ensure the education as right and the public-private partnerships adopted by the state to enhance equitable-access to educational during desperate times.

Passing the Baton: Understanding the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model of Pre-Primary Education in Mumbai, India

Pooja Pandey, Nisha Vernekar, Rahela Khorakiwala, Sakshi Pawar, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, India

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in education remain a contentious subject of discourse. While many consider it to be an answer to low investment capabilities and capacity of the State in developing countries like India, others argue it reflects a de-commitment of the State towards its role as a provider of education. Governing PPPs pose a myriad of challenges for the State, especially at the stage of Early Childhood Education (ECE) in India, where ECE itself is not formalised through dedicated legislation governing its delivery and regulation.

To elucidate the urgency of such endeavour, we study the case of the ECE centres called ‘balwadi’ model in urban Mumbai, India. Under this, ‘balwadis’ are run by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (“MCGM”), in partnership with ~25 NGOs. The MCGM provides partner NGOs with school infrastructure and aids (like teacher salaries), while NGOs are tasked with the delivery of ECE.

Through analysis of policies and legal contracts governing the model, and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders - 43 teachers and 15 NGOs - we find that ECE delivered through this model varies substantially based on the organisation running the balwadi, rather than being standardised by the State. We find that in the absence of legislation dictating norms and standards for ECE implementation, this model might adversely impact the rights of the child to - equitable and inclusive ECE, and entitlements such as learning materials and mid-day meals. We further find a misalignment between the stated goals of such partnerships and the monitoring system devised for its regulation, such that NGOs are preferred for financial stability over expertise in implementing ECE, while the voice of parents and students to hold the State accountable is diluted.

The findings thus highlight the imperative for the State to adopt a robust policy framework to guide the implementation and regulation of PPPs for education.

The relationship between schooling, tutoring and mothering

Qingru Wang, University of East Anglia

When the ‘Double Reduction’ policy - reduce the burden of homework and off-campus training for students in compulsory education (Year 1 - Year 9), was announced in China, private tutoring has been restricted and monitored. The tensions between formal schooling, parenting and private tutoring have changed, new negotiation has been produced between tutoring and parenting. By analysing middle class mothers’ experience on helping their children’s education, this research explores how is the new policy influencing the nature of partnership between schools, parents and tutors.

Based on 12-month digital ethnographic research, which includes ongoing online participant observation, 21 interviews (online and in person), and 3 participatory workshops, this research found that the educational pressure from schooling and tutoring has changed parental practices in everyday life. The findings reveal that helping children’s education has become a part of motherhood. Tutoring institutions helped mothers solve practical problems on education but also brought pressure and competition in the context. Meanwhile, schooling system expected parents’ cooperation on education, which also influenced mothers’ choices on tutoring. When education from school was not enough for their family or not fulfilled their requirements, private tutoring played an important role to fill the gap. However, this research also suggests that when the new policy limited private tutoring and broke the existed ‘partnership’, mothers have to take more responsibilities on education, such as deliver home tutoring to children. Those mothers’ personal experiences on education partnership implicated the challenges and possibilities on school-family future collaboration.

‘Relatings’ impacting the inclusion of refugee children across systems

Kristina Pokasic, University of Nottingham

Partnerships within and beyond the education system directly influence the inclusion of refugee children in schools. The absence of this cooperation shifts the responsibility for refugee education solely to educators. This presentation will provide insights into complex relationships among different stakeholders in the education system in Croatia and will address the inequalities that the lack of such relationships brings in the context of the inclusion of refugee children in primary schools. The concept of ‘relatings’ was taken from Kemmis et al. (2014) and their theory of practice architectures. In their framework, ‘relatings’ explain social relationships and power in the relationships between persons. In this context, relatings are concerned with power relations, support and cooperation between educators inside of schools, as well as their relationships with stakeholders outside of schools. This research was conducted in four primary schools in Croatia, and semi-structured interviews provided perspectives of educators – teachers, headteachers and professional associates. The findings reveal poor relatings on macro, meso and micro systems, directly influencing the school environment and pupils. Although there is an effort of educators to form relatings about practices used to include refugee children in schools, the cooperation with other schools and governmental organisations is not well established, and has also been worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of relatings on all the levels calls for a more systematic approach to cooperation on the micro-level (educator-educator), the meso-level (between schools) and the macro-level (partnerships with governmental organisations).

Virtual exchange mobility to promote partnership overseas: Case study from Japanese National University

Ariunaa Enkhtur, Osaka University; Ming Li, Osaka University; Xixi Zhang, Osaka University

International student recruitment and expanding strategic partnership with overseas universities are the two main objectives in Japanese internationalization policy for higher education that relied primarily on in-person exchanges. Although there have been a number of successful online collaborative learning programs in Japan in last two decades, the potentials of these projects have not been explored widely both in practice and research. The paper will present one case of Japanese national university that embraced virtual exchange and mobility mode not only as an alternative to physical exchange but also to promote partnerships and student engagement at wider institutional and global level. Drawing on Yin’s case study approach (2016), we analyzed the potential of virtual exchange programs to promote strategic international partnerships. We take an insider’s perspective as we reflect on our own experiences of designing, evaluating and planning virtual exchange program on Sustainable Development among over 130 partner university students. In addition, we further explore the administrators’, students’ and other faculties perspectives in promoting Virtual Exchange program as a strategic activity to promote internationalization of higher education and strategic partnerships. Our semi-structured interviews with diverse stakeholders showed that Virtual Exchange programs have potentials to promote university’s global reputation, motivate students to engage in future international exchange programs—inbound or outbound, and prepare students before studying abroad. However, systematic and strategic plan to mobilize and support faculties to participate in such courses are important. While many faculties welcome and appreciate collaboration with other university faculties, some still view these programs as extra burden to design, facilitate, and support students both in home and host institutions. Although virtual exchange programs and co-creating interdisciplinary courses are promising to strengthen institutional partnership among faculties, students, and administrators, it is crucial to link VE program with other strategic partnership initiatives.

Collaborating across disciplinary boundaries: epistemological humility for transgressing secondary school curriculum.

Betzabé Torres-Olave, University of Bristol, Angeline Mbogo Barrett, University of Bristol

This paper explores the relationship between curriculum design and power relations in the context of secondary school science in Chile. It reports on critical ethnographic research with communities of school and university-based educators, who met together regularly to discuss problems and share ideas for teaching and learning science. Through the practice of epistemological humility, the educators created collaborative professional relationships built on trust, democratic dialogue, and active listening.

During the dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990), the Integrated Sciences curriculum subject was replaced by three discrete subjects, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, whilst geography was removed altogether. The curricular fragmentation created strong insulation disciplines and reinforced hierarchical relations between types of knowledge, between teachers and teacher educators, and between schools and universities. In other words, secondary education came to reflect the elitisms and exclusions of the country’s neoliberal dictatorial regime.

We draw on Bernstein´s pedagogical theory, Santos´ notion of “ecologies of knowledge”, and Freire´s concept of dialogue, to theorise the process by which two self-organised communities of teachers and teacher educators problematised institutional power dynamics to make their practice more inclusive. Supporting each other through dialogue led to the disruption of institutional and epistemic hierarchies through a praxis of epistemological humility. Positioning science curriculum within an ecology of knowledges, allowed the teachers to form collaborations across science and humanities subjects. These collaborations generated teaching and learning that connected to students lived experiences of complex challenges of social inequalities and environmental destruction. Such connections are an opportunity for a richer understanding of the world and potential collective and individual actions within and beyond educational institutions, moving educational practice toward a more socially just and sustainable future.

Like water: Negotiating relational complexity in school-based ethnographic childhood research in China through the lens of emotional reflexivity

Yuchen Wang, University of Strathclyde; Yan Zhu, University College London

This paper is developed based on two ethnographic studies in primary school settings in China with two traditionally marginalised groups of children – left-behind children and disable children. Ethnography is often considered as a suitable methodological approach to explore childhood experiences. Although there have been rich discussions of ethical dilemmas and challenges in ethnographic fieldwork with children in Global North educational settings, there is limited research on such ethical issues in Global South contexts, such as China. As suggested by some China-based fieldwork studies, complex field relationships is one of the main challenges, such as ways of performing identities and dealing with ethical dilemmas. Such situations are more prominent in studies that contest ‘normative’ Chinese childhoods, and address inequitable barriers to diverse groups of children. However, these challenges and dilemmas haven’t been sufficiently discussed because of the culture of silence surrounding researchers’ emotions and positionality. This paper aims to use emotional reflexivity as a lens to revisit two early career Chinese female researchers’ fieldwork experiences of identifying themselves and negotiating complexity in field relationships with children and teachers. We will particularly reflect on the ‘sameness’ and ‘otherness’ experienced in field relationships and unpack the vulnerability and creditability impacted by our fluid identities. This paper adds insights into ethical considerations of doing school-based ethnography with children and sheds light on constructions of diverse childhoods in Chinese sociocultural context.

Community-based education partnerships that deliver safe and relevant learning

Angela Keenan, Link Education International; Harold Kuombola, Link Education Malawi; Samantha Ross, Link Education International

Education provision is increasingly being supported by multiple stakeholders, especially during emergencies such as COVID-19. The broader community is a key stakeholder due to its understanding of the local context. As the state’s ability to deliver quality education diminishes when schools close and restrictions are imposed, community support to schools begin to play a more significant role.[1] A Thematic Review by the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC)[2] explored how structures from within the community – or community-based structures (CBSs) – contributed to the successful implementation of education projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Thematic Review identified six characteristics of projects which successfully adapted community partnerships: they built upon existing community-based structures, nurtured agency, actively listened to communities, capitalised on delivery to achieve more, partnered with non-education community-based structures, and worked within all levels of the system.

This paper presents the experience of teachers, parents, students and community-based structures in Malawi and Ethiopia who successfully adapted their partnerships to the changing context. Link Education’s Supporting the Transition of Adolescent Girls Through Enhancing Systems project aims to break down barriers to education for 63,000 girls in rural Ethiopia. Our Transformational Empowerment for Adolescent Marginalised Girls in Malawi project supports over 5,000 out-of-school girls to attend community-based classes and transition into formal education, skills training, or employment.

To examine the role and importance of community-based structures in navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper applies the GEC framework to the shared participant experiences in these two projects. Results demonstrate how the changed context and the communities themselves informed project activities based on their lived-experience and knowledge of what was possible (and importantly, what was not) in an effort to keep children safe and learning. Robust and resilient partnerships were key in continuing to deliver a safe and effective education.

[1] https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/ pf0000183364/PDF/183364eng.pdf.multi

[2] https://girlseducationchallenge.org/media/1qnpbbf3/thematic-review_-community_based_structures.pdf

Experiencing Education Partnerships that improve learning in Ethiopia

Sandra Graham, Link Education International; Wondu Gudeta Link Education Ethiopia; Abaynew Mulat, Link Education Ethiopia; Samantha Ross, Link Education International

Sustainable Development Goal 17[1] focuses on revitalising partnerships and emphasises inclusiveness, clear principles, shared vision, and shared goals at global, regional, national and local level.  Research highlights the impact that socio-cultural, economic, and political challenges can have on partnership, as well as the differences in the way partnerships are conceptualised and perceived[2].

Link Education has forged partnership with the Ministry of Education through projects in the SNNP Region of Ethiopia for over 10 years, with the strengthening of teaching quality via existing policy and practice[3] a major focus.  A relationship of mutual trust has developed and served as a foundation during the political, economic and social turbulence created by the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity and civil conflict.

Despite these challenges, the Midline-1 Evaluation Report (2021)[4] of Link’s Girls’ Education Challenge-Transition STAGES[5] project, along with internal project data, suggests that a vibrant partnership exists, possibly stronger than before, which contributes to improved teaching, leadership and community support for girls’ education, increased girls’ confidence for learning, and more sustainable outcomes[6].

This paper will draw upon Link’s Midline-1 Evaluation Report[7] and project data[8] to explore partnership in the context of STAGES, focusing on teaching and learning.  Lessons learnt point to the importance a strong sense of mutual respect, working towards shared goals, and a relationship fortified by jointly responding to major and unexpected challenges, are in forging partnerships.

[1] Sustainable Development Goals https://sdgs.un.org/goals

[2] https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-13/meaning-partnership-development-lessons-development-education (2011) downloaded on 05.04.22

[3] Continuing professional development of teachers, and via school improvement planning

[4] School to School International (2021), STAGES Midline-1 Evaluation Report

[5] Supporting the Transition of Adolescent Girls and Enhancing Systems (2017 – 2024)

[6] School to School International (2021), STAGES Midline-1 Evaluation Report

[7] ibid

[8] Link Education International (2022) Working with Government Approach Paper; Link Ethiopia (2020) STAGES COVID-19 Rapid Assessment Report; Link Ethiopia (2020, 2021, 2022) Internal Monitoring Reports

Experiences of interdisciplinary collaborations within academia: learning across epistemological divides for sustainable development

Eleanor Brown, University of York; Ana Zimmermann, University of São Paulo; Lynda Dunlop, University of York; Paul Walton, University of York; Kelly Redeker, University of York; Sally Brooks, University of York; Joshua Kirshner, University of York; João Cairo, University of Campinas, Brazil; Richard Friend, University of York; Fernanda Veneu, Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro

This paper discusses academic partnerships fostered through a British Academy funded Knowledge Frontiers project - STRIPES (Social Transformative Research Informing Processes of Environmental Science). This project explored the implications of Chemistry research that creates enzymes for a bioethanol-from-cellulose reactor, potentially presenting innovative solutions to the global need for sustainable fuels. This paper reports on the ‘research into the research process’, which reflects on the small stories of the learning experiences of academics from different disciplines engaging in partnerships that took them out of their comfort zones.

These interdisciplinary projects are rarely conceptualised a learning spaces for academics, but here we explicitly researched the perceptions and experiences of the researchers to consider the institutional, political, and epistemological contexts in which they interacted. We facilitated transformative learning through authentic interdisciplinary dialogue, examining assumptions by opening up space for exploring epistemologies, terminologies and methodologies, and breaking down hierarchies.

One of the key findings was that, while universities and funding bodies increasingly emphasize the importance interdisciplinarity, the reality is that these partnerships are often led by the scientific interventions, rather than by the social realities of the participants. We argue that education has an important role to play in ensuring that interdisciplinary partnerships within Higher Education have space for processes of interdisciplinary dialogue that can facilitate communication across epistemological divides. Therefore, researchers have to be willing to learn from the disciplinary knowledge of the other. While these collaborations are not new, it is essential to critique the accepted practice of science-led development research in order to consider appropriate ways to work together to address challenges that are fundamental aspects of our Higher Education system, and in turn the partnerships that we form internationally. This project is innovative in its exploration of interdisciplinary partnerships to challenge models of international development research.

(Re)conceptualizing family-school-community partnerships in rural African primary schools

Bukola Oyinloye, University of Manchester

Authentic family-school-community partnerships are “mutually respectful alliances” among families, schools, and communities that value relationship building, dialogue and power sharing,” and which are driven by school leaders committed to creating socially just, democratic and culturally responsive urban schools (Auerbach, 2010, p. 734). Rural school leaders, likewise, may foster similar partnerships by tapping into existing social networks; cultivating a sense of place; deepening parental involvement; strengthening church ties; building relationships between schools, local businesses and community services; and employing the community as a curricula resource (Bauch, 2001). While these ideas, derived from studies in the U.S., are relevant in similar global contexts, there is generally limited evidence on how family-school-community partnerships are perceived or performed in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural areas.

This paper shares findings from a study of parental involvement in two rural primary schools in Northern Nigeria. The study employed an ethnographic approach, embedded within a situated moral ethics framework, and applied thematic and capabilitarian analyses within a Sen-Bourdieu conceptual framework. The study’s findings suggest that the assumption that partnership models are driven and led by school leaders may not always hold. Furthermore, perceptions of partnerships differed between schools and communities and while relationship building, dialoguing and power sharing remained critical, partnerships were often performed within the boundaries of communities’ socio-cultural characteristics and practices.

By illuminating alternate conceptions and performances of family-school-community partnerships, the findings not only deepen the evidence base on educational partnerships, but also hold important implications for how we conceptualize such partnerships in diverse contexts of formal schooling.

The paper fits within the sub-theme of ‘experiencing education partnerships’, a sub-theme which welcomes contributions that illustrate diverse educational experiences, and is consistent with the conference theme which, among other aims, seeks to understand how partnerships in education are performed by different agents across different contexts.

Playful learning in Mexican preschools during and after COVID-19: The key role of family-school partnerships.

Dina Fajardo-Tovar, University of Cambridge

The COVID-19 crisis entailed social distancing and school closures. Hence, ECE was significantly challenged by moving from in-person to remote activities (Dias et al., 2020; Gayatri, 2020; Jalongo, 2021). Mainly, the playful, social, and contingent nature of ECE was hampered (Timmons et al., 2021).

Research on teachers’ experiences during the pandemic has shown the main challenges and opportunities of distance learning (Atiles et al., 2021). However, as Bond (2020) found, more research is needed to understand how ECE settings in LMICs adapted to school closures. Additionally, it is still understudied how playful learning, a predominant ECE pedagogical approach, changed to fit these circumstances.

Therefore, this study draws upon Bronfenbrenner’s(1995) bioecological model (PPCT) to investigate how Mexican preschools’ teaching and playful learning processes took place during the different stages of the crisis. Additionally, it explores how the ecological systems influenced these processes.

This paper is part of two comparative case studies conducted with the BAICE doctoral student grant. Teachers from rural and urban preschools were interviewed and visited during the lockdown and after schools reopened.

In Mexico, schools closed in March 2020, and ECE emergency delivery varied greatly. This study presents how ECE and playful learning occurred during the pandemic. Additionally, a preliminary analysis of findings shows that the ecological systems surrounding families, preschools, and the partnership between both, strongly influenced ECE. Previous research has advanced that the partnership between parents and preschools is vital for children’s positive development and learning (Ma et al., 2016). Aligned to this, this study explores how partnerships evolve and become even more influential in emergencies like the COVID-19 crisis in two distinct Mexican settings (rural and urban). These findings may inform future distance learning and emergency initiatives incorporating playful learning and the key role of family-school partnerships in LMICs.

The Global Symposium on Post-Pandemic Play: A response by education researchers to the need for solution-focused theory and practice on post-Covid learning, and a new network for partnerships

Sabilah Eboo Alwani, University of Cambridge; Benjamin Alcott, University College London; Esinam Avornyo, University of Cape Coast; Natalie Day, University of Wollongong; Melanie Greaux, University of Cambridge; Julia Hayes, University of Cambridge; Janice Kim, University of Cambridge; Krishna Kulkarni, University of Cambridge; Ricardo Sabates, University of Cambridge; Priya Silverstein, IGDORE; Lynneth Solis, Harvard; Deborah Spindelman, University of Cambridge

Close to 1.6 billion children have had their learning disrupted by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (UNESCO). But the knock-on effects of Covid have put many children under what Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child has called ‘toxic stress’ - a threat to desirable developmental outcomes. The dominant narrative on children and learning in Covid has primarily focused on ‘learning loss’ - a narrow, quantitatively-oriented framework. This myopic approach could miss key developmental concerns such as the symbiotic relationship between learning and wellbeing, and may not be opportunity-focused enough to offer scope for successfully moving the global post-pandemic learning landscape forward.

To respond to this gap, the Global Symposium on Post-Pandemic Play was convened by a committee of 11 education researchers from institutions across the globe on March 3, 2022, with funding from a BAICE network grant. This two-part symposium focused on how play can be incorporated into global post-COVID work with children for a more developmentally balanced approach. Uniquely, the symposium knitted together perspectives from both academics and grassroots practitioners.

Data from the symposia were captured as such: registrant information, live video footage of the main event panels (4 in total), recordings of each small-group breakout discussion (14 in total), and professional live-illustrations of both events recording key points and links. Our analysis highlights global perspectives on barriers to incorporating play in work with children and learning post-Covid ranging from cultural to resource-driven, as well as opportunities, assets, and allies that practitioners and academics are calling on to make play a more central component of moving children on from Covid’s impact on learning.

Early analysis identifies the primacy of supporting parents’ input into children’s early learning, building peer-based local networks to strengthen play delivery in the absence of regularised learning, and co-creating opportunities for learning rebalancing with children and communities more directly.

‘Dignity and Social Justice: Youth voices in a research partnership in the South African Higher Education Context’

Melanie Walker, University of the Free State, South Africa; Carmen Martinez-Vargas, University of the Free State, South Africa

The paper addresses a  global discourse of human dignity as manifest in the  UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, its more recent appearance in 1996 in the South African Constitution as the right to human dignity, and its local working out in a rich research partnership, grounded in relationships of mutual vulnerability, trust and authenticity and hence an experiential  research and learning partnership. The space was a participatory action research project initiated by South-based researchers in the place where they live and work. The ‘Youth Voices on Social Justice’ project explored bottom-up constructions of social justice using digital story-telling and participatory video in a year-long project with 12 graduate university students, working face to face and online, with the young people involved conceptually and practically through to the final dissemination actions. Each student made an individual digital story, developed and shared in the collective and aimed at capturing an aspect of social in/justice that mattered in their own lives, before they worked in groups on a social justice theme video.  What emerged strongly in all the individual stories was the theme of oppressive social norms and especially of reduced human dignity. In this paper we focus thus on inner-outer human dignity, drawing on capabilitarian scholarship and feminist analysis, to show how dignity is a highly valued social justice practice and ultimate end (and we might say an architectonic capability) for the students and their families. We consider how negotiations between individual lives and contextual structures of (im)possibilities are central to grasping how students make more justice possible through their intrinsic and attributed human dignity to become ‘heard’ students and to ‘inflorescent dignity’ which entails ethical and moral claims on the intersubjective classroom (research setting). Thus, we note, too, the importance of the relational pedagogy and shared learning.

Better Together? Lessons from a Theoretically and Methodologically Collaborative Research Project

Monique Kwachou, University of the Free State, South Africa

With regards to the research of African issues and African contexts, mainstream research theory and practice has been found wanting by Afrocentric scholars who emphasize the need for re-centring African thought and experiences in the examination of African subjects. In agreement with the above criticisms, my recent study entitled Cameroonian women’s empowerment through higher education: An African-feminist and Capability Approach set out to re-centre African thought and experience through collaborations in theory and practice.

My study took on a complex issue- the assumption of Cameroonian women’s empowerment through higher education; questioning what empowerment means for women in this context, if and how their higher education could be credited for enabling the empowerment they value. As such, I soon found that existing frameworks would fall short of capturing the multifaceted nature of Cameroonian women’s (dis)empowerment and that more popular methodological practices may contribute to disempowering my participants. This spurred my opting for an engaged narrative inquiry as my research design and my construction of an original African-feminist application of the Capability Approach for use as my theoretical frame.

Based on this study, my presentation shall: outline the process of developing a joint African-feminist Capability Approach through the merging of Capability Approach and African-feminist perspectives, detail how I achieved methodological collaboration by engaging the study’s subjects in a participatory-analysis workshop and delineate the benefits thereof.  In the end, I aim to affirm the potential for such collaborative ventures to effect better and more contextually-suited knowledge production.

Communities as Key Partners for EdTech Programs and Research

Antonie Chigeda, Imagine Worldwide and University of Malawi; Karen Levesque, Imagine Worldwide; Sarah Bardack, Imagine Worldwide; Symon Winiko, University of Malawi

Malawi’s primary education system has made great progress in increasing access to school over the last decade, but is challenged to provide quality learning in the face of rapid enrollment expansion (World Bank 2021, page 8). By Standard 4, 19 percent of students still score zero on Standard 1 math items and only 22 percent are able to comprehend a short reading passage in the primary language of instruction used in the early grades (Ibid., page 96). To address poor learning outcomes, the Malawi Ministry of Education in collaboration with non-governmental organizations has piloted the use of onebillion’s award-winning tablet-based software, onecourse, in more than 100 schools. Four randomized controlled trials conducted with onecourse over periods from 8 weeks to 2 school years in Malawi government schools have consistently produced significant positive impacts on literacy and numeracy in early primary grades (Pitchford 2015; Pitchford, Hubber, and Chigeda 2017; Levesque et al. 2020; Levesque et al. forthcoming).

Conducting high-quality rigorous studies requires care. Engaging community members can enhance the quality of both the research and the edtech program. This paper discusses multiple methods used by researchers to engage community members (parents, teachers, school and community leaders) in Malawi on education technology; details community perspectives on the program and research; describes adjustments made to the program and research to ensure that all children will have access to and benefit from the edtech; and suggests best practices for other researchers and implementers in this field. Topics include stakeholder engagement practices; planning to serve the control group following experimental research; collaborating with community members to improve program attendance and adherence to research requirements; methods for improving program sustainability following research; ensuring alignment and transparency of edtech content; and sharing research findings with non-technical audiences; among others.

Can Technological Partnerships Enable Equitable and Inclusive School Education? Critical Insights from High Level Consultative Policy Dialogues on Covid-19 Technological Responses in Pakistan

Maleeha Sattar, Information Technology University, Lahore, Pakistan

Recent studies establish that the pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the already existing endemic of out-of-school children and the crisis of low learning levels among majority of school going children in Pakistan. This has happened despite several EdTech initiatives hurriedly launched by federal, provincial public officials and private entrepreneurs in response to the closure of schools in wake of a global pandemic. Interestingly, most of EdTech initiatives scaled up during pandemic followed collaborative governance models wherein the national as well as provincial governments spurred into action and leveraged multiple ‘low-cost’ technologies and resources in a bid to ensure continuity of learning for already vulnerable young learners. This paper presents the findings and analysis of a series of extensive policy dialogues and KIIs done with multiple stakeholders ranging from public officials at federal, provincial and local levels, educationists, academicians, EdTech experts, development partners, school representatives who engaged in designing, financing, implementing or evaluating the technological interventions to manage school governance during the pandemic.

The paper begins with a critical overview of strategic measures and technological interventions undertaken to mitigate the repercussions of school closure on the learning outcomes of the students at federal and provincial levels by multiple stakeholders. It delineates the resource considerations, and policy constraints experienced in adopting collaborative governance measures to create best-suited responses in wake of school closure by education leaderships at multiple tiers.  Based on the consultative interactions and deliberations with key actors at multiple levels the study highlights the bottlenecks in adaptive policymaking and collaborative governance for improving school education. Moreover, it reflects on the challenges and prospects of using EdTech for improving the quality of school education and governance in Pakistan.  The paper also recommends the ways in which technologies can be harnessed to build collaborations for co-creating responsive and effective education governance mechanisms for achieving SDG4 by creating well-functioning crisis management systems.

Podcasts as pedagogy: A critical examination of teaching and learning in higher education

Matthew A. M. Thomas, University of Glasgow; Kelsey Boivin, University of Sydney

Podcasts are now one of the most ubiquitous forms of digital entertainment and public pedagogy. Their global impact in recent years has extended to higher education, too, where podcasts serve a variety of purposes, from marketing and public relations to research dissemination to teaching and learning. This conceptual paper explores the role of podcasts in international higher education, focusing specifically on podcasting in teaching and learning, what we term ‘podcasts as pedagogy’. The paper first offers a meta-analysis of podcasts as pedagogy in higher education, canvasing and analysing the varied definitions, taxonomies, and pedagogical uses of podcasts within the literature. The paper then historicises the roles of podcasts in higher education teaching and learning and, importantly, how broad and significant changes within global higher education and sociocultural contexts enabled or constrained their pedagogical utility. For example, parallel to the technological and cultural developments of radio and internet that led to the emergence of podcasts, asynchronous learning and distance education (accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic) in many countries, aided by a wide variety of partnerships, laid the groundwork for podcasts as pedagogy in higher education. These developments have been uneven internationally, however. Issues of access, representation, and global knowledge production can paradoxically be both advanced and stymied by the broad(er) usage of podcasting within higher education, further mediated by the roles of various media, corporate, and organisational partners. The paper therefore carefully considers a range of possibilities, affordances, and tensions related to podcasts as pedagogy, some of which are highlighted in the extant literature, while others are largely overlooked. The paper concludes, then, by reconsidering the future utility of teaching with, of, and through podcasts in international higher education, and concomitant implications for global knowledge production, dissemination, and consumption.

Highs and lows of working with multilateral partnerships to raise learning outcomes through educational technology in the Global South

Nicola Pitchford, University of Nottingham

Introducing and embedding innovative evidence-based educational technologies (EdTech) designed to raise learning outcomes within low-income contexts in the Global South is challenging terrain and requires multilateral partnerships spanning governmental ministries, non-governmental implementing organisations, donors, app-developers, hardware providers, school leaders, teachers, children, local communities and researchers. Whilst establishing and maintaining these partnerships is key to sustainable, long-term, effective implementation of EdTech interventions in the Global South, this requires navigating complex histories, power imbalances, and preconceptions. Development banks, UN institutions and other non-governmental organisations have significant influence in the Global South yet engaging with multilateral partnerships is often not simple, and relationships can be complex and may vary across individual countries.

This paper will explore some principles behind working with multilateral partnerships to address the global education impact goals defined by SDG4. It will draw insights from an international research programme that has been operating for the past decade in Malawi and other countries in the Global South, with multilateral partnerships implementing an innovative tablet technology intervention designed to increase the core foundational skills of literacy and numeracy that are needed to live a productive and healthy life. The EdTech intervention, cross-cultural evidence base, and multilateral partnership approach will be described along a timeline from conception to national scale up. Particular consideration will be given to the role of research in global EdTech programmes and the tensions that the need for rigorous research can create within multilateral partnerships when there is mis-understanding or mis-appreciation of individual organisational needs or divergence in priorities in response to changes within the global education and economic ecosystem. Benefits to EdTech researchers of working with multilateral partnerships in the Global South will also be outlined and guidance will be given to how researchers can develop positive, equitable and successful multilateral partnerships that embody different contextual needs.

The importance of partnerships for successful deployment of EdTech interventions in remote, low-income contexts: Lessons from the Global Learning XPRIZE

Bethany Huntington, University of Nottingham; James Goulding, University of Nottingham; Nicola J. Pitchford, University of Nottingham

Approximately 330 million children of primary school age are unable to read or do basic mathematics, impacting both societal engagement and potential for economic growth. Traditional education has failed to solve this learning crisis, so innovative new approaches are required to support SDG 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable education and learning opportunities for all.

To address the crisis, the XPRIZE Foundation partnered with UNESCO and the World Food Programme to launch a ‘Global Learning Competition’, challenging teams to develop software empowering marginalised children to learn literacy, numeracy and writing skills outside traditional school settings. In partnership with RTI, five finalist teams had their hand-held technology tablet solutions evaluated with 2500 children in 172 remote villages in Tanzania. The winners of the competition were announced in 2019.

In this study, we partnered with the XPRIZE Foundation to explore factors that influenced children’ ability to learn with tablets in these remote communities. A qualitative expert elicitation was conducted with 14 key informants of the competition, using semi-structured interviews, conducted online over a 7-month period. Experiences were drawn from XPRIZE and their partners to identify key factors that influenced implementation and successful learning with these technology interventions.

Four key themes were generated: handling technology as a novel concept, children failing to learn in a vacuum, understanding the cultural context, and issues with accessibility. Critical insights generated should guide implementation fidelity and inform theoretical frameworks of how digital technologies might be deployed successfully in the future with out-of-school children. This study highlights the importance of understanding the cultural context in which digital technologies are deployed. Implementation issues need to be addressed to allow for successful future deployment of EdTech interventions, and to do this, it is crucial that productive and meaningful partnerships are in place between implementing organisations.

Secondary School Fee Abolition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Taking Stock of the Evidence

Rob J. Gruijters, University of Cambridge; Leslie Casely-Hayford, Associates for Change, Ghana; Mohammed Alhassan Abango, Associates for Change, Ghana

Now that many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have made progress towards increasing enrolment in primary education, some governments in the region see secondary education as the next frontier in expanding access to education for all. School fees are an important barrier to accessing education, particularly for the poor. The abolition of primary school fees had an important impact on enrolment in countries like Malawi, although with concerns about the implications for quality. There is more limited evidence on the effect of fee abolition at the secondary level of education. Against this background, we take stock of initiatives to provide free secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa and review the emerging evidence on the impact of these initiatives, focusing on 1) equitable access, 2) maintaining quality and 3) financial sustainability.

We start by discussion theoretical argument for and against fee abolition. Second, we look at aggregate statistics on enrolment and transition rates, showing that primary school completion remains far from universal in most countries in the region, and that only a relatively privileged minority is currently accessing secondary education. Third, we will present evidence from a structured literature review of secondary school fee Free Secondary Education (FSE) initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. Several countries (including Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, and Ghana) have sought to expand access to secondary education through the full or partial abolition of secondary school fees in recent years, with mixed success. Finally, we will present some preliminary quantitative and qualitative evidence from Ghana’s Free Senior High School policy, which has been the most prominent and comprehensive FSE initiative in the region. We conclude that free secondary education is an appropriate long-term goal for education systems but can be an inequitable and ineffective in the short run.

Partnership, peak aid and the educational financing trap

Keith M Lewin, University of Sussex

There is an element of the unreal about the Sustainable Development Goals that shape development assistance for education. Calls for urgent interventions and commitment of more resources are widespread and justified, but increasingly they are unbelievable. The scale of external support that would be necessary to achieve global goals by 2030 is not credible, it would not be sustainable and would induce unprecedented levels of post-colonial dependence.

It is time to step back and look through the looking glass at the realities and frame new partnerships that redraws the map of how needs are identified and how capacities are mobilised. The world is “off-track” to achieve SDG4. Decisions are being made in “zones of improbable progress” where principals and agents plan for outcomes that both know are unlikely to be achieved leading to poor allocative efficiency. Mission creep has meant the global ambition now embraces a vast agenda that includes universal access to quality schooling for all for at least thirteen years from pre-school to grade 12, widespread provision of ECD, expanded TVET, widened access to higher education, and massive investment to reduce educational inequalities related to income, location, gender and disability largely undifferentiated by country contexts.

At the heart of problems of access and learning is a “financing trap” that has meant that expenditure on education by governments in low income countries has remained static at about 4% of GDP and 15% of government expenditure since the 1980s. This is at least 50% less than is needed for anything like universal access to education. It is also despite three multi-lateral World Education Fora and many conference pledges by agencies and governments to provide more generous resources. As the world moves beyond “peak aid” to education, it is unlikely that grant aid will fill the gaps. The simple arithmetic does not add up. SDG4 has to be largely financed from domestic revenues by fiscal states that balance their books.

The “learning crisis” is not a new development but a chronic condition with a long history. It will not be resolved by ad hoc system reforms unrelated to financing. The financing trap can be unlocked with political will and coordinated actions that enhance efficiency and effectiveness, systematically increase domestic revenue, and make good use of catalytic aid that accelerates progress toward becoming fiscal states.

This presentation reports on the outcomes of recent research using large scale cross national data sets that sees over the horizon of SDG4 to new kinds of aid partnerships that celebrate equi-finality (different pathways to desired outcomes)  and multi-finality (different desired outcomes) and step outside zones of improbable progress.

Critical Peace Education or/and Pedagogy of Resistance A qualitative study of the Kurdish region of Turkey

Ozlem Kocyigit , University of Edinburgh, University of Bristol (Where the research is conducted)

Critical Peace Education or/and Pedagogy of Resistance
A qualitative study of the Kurdish region of Turkey

The denial of recognition and educational rights especially the opportunity for an education in Kurdish lie at the heart of the conflict between the Kurdish movement and the Turkish state. The motivation and design of this research have emerged from the search for alternative education models that can create a culture of peace against the protracted conflict situation in Turkey`s Kurdish region. This qualitative study aimed to reveal political, economic and social dimensions of education, inequality and resistance at local scales through the questions `how Kurds living in Turkey perceive and experience of Turkish National Education System (TNES), and to what extent Critical Peace Education (CPE) and Pedagogy of Resistance (PoR) can be an alternative for the region. The research was conducted in Amed (Diyarbakir) mainly inhabited by Kurds. 9 semi-structured online interviews were done with different stakeholders within education: local MPs, teachers, education activists and parents. The findings were analysed using a hybrid approach of thematic analysis and interpreted in the light of CPE and PoR educational frameworks. It is found that while TNES is seen as problematic for all students in Turkey because of its everchanging situation according to the government`s ideology and exam-focused features, it creates more injustices for Kurdish students due to the language barrier and limited access to education that eventually creates `Cycle of inequality` in the region. In furtherance of that `Peace` is identified as `cultural and linguistic recognition and `freedom of expression`. CPE remains insufficient to challenge larger structural and political realities such as the nation-state, coloniality and capitalist modernity. To challenge this, decolonizing approaches and resistance practices of local should be taken into educational programs as an essential guide to any educational initiatives in the region.

The rise of global testing culture in Kosovo: A critical examination of the national and international assessment practices

Tringa Kasneci, CEID, University of Edinburgh

This paper examines Kosovo’s application of testing and the international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008. The research undertakes one of the first critical examinations of Kosovo’s increasing global testing culture by evaluating the Achievement and Matura exams as the first examples of national standardized assessments. Likewise, it examines Kosovo’s participation in many different ILSAs. Kosovo is one case where its education priorities were different from the global agenda. Due to the oppression of the Serbian regime and the difficult situation of 1990s, education for Kosovo became a force of resistance. Kosovo was forced to introduce a parallel education system which resulted in many downfalls. Following the end of the war in 1999 and the unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo has engaged in the process of reconstructing the education system by which it started to structure national assessments and participate in international assessments. The newly established state sought collaboration and partnership with international organizations such as OECD and decided to participate in different international large-scale assessments like PISA, TIMSS and others. The paper examines the reasons behind the state’s participation in these exams and finds that contrary to other states, Kosovo’s motivation for participation in these assessments is not solely (or at all) to measure performance or to use results and these tests as vital policy tools. Contrary to these motivators, this research paper argues that Kosovo’s institutions see participation in international assessment and partnerships with prominent international organizations as a strategic way to receive international recognition and consolidate its contested unilateral declaration of independence.

This research attempts to answer these dilemmas by engaging in an extensive theoretical debate behind why developing countries participate in international large-scale testing. In the case of Kosovo, this paper attempts to create a causal relationship between Kosovo’s 1999 war, parallel education, ILSAs, and the main reasons for partnerships with international organizations.

Keywords: Partnerships, global testing culture, assessment, international organizations, international large-scale assessment, Kosovo

Partnerships in Education for sustainable change

Sofie Cabus, Anna Murru, VVOB, Belgium

There is a growing realization that public goods, and this is especially true for education, cannot be left to be delivered by national governments alone. A multitude of players are required to support the process at various levels from teacher associations, parent associations, lobby groups, and non-governmental organizations providing service delivery or supporting policy development etc. Collaboration and partnerships among these players is a key pre-requisite for long-term quality and sustained results.

Cardinal among these is the partnership with the main duty bearer, the government itself. Because of this, VVOB’s approach and intervention modality is underpinned by longstanding partnerships with Ministries of Education in operational countries. The process of establishing such partnerships can be long and tedious, bureaucratic, and expensive. We estimate the process from initial contact to agreement to be approximately one year, during which the two parties have the opportunity of knowing each other, obtaining a deeper understanding the context, politics, culture and working modalities, structures but also establishing clear goals and rules for engagement. As a result of this VVOB then engages in its partner countries for the long-term, typically beyond 15 years.

This approach is more and more acknowledged as a key instrument for system level change, scale and sustainability. In addition to partnering with governments effective system level change also requires investing in partnerships with other actors, in particular research institutions, or learning partners, that support the evidence-base of interventions and provide governments the much-needed data to support embracing of innovations.

The COVID-19 disruption and school closures have further laid bare the need to embrace the partnership approach in education: as a result of the crisis brought about by the pandemic, education actors have been brought together to co-design interventions, to collaborate on finding quick fixes for emerging problems within this ever- changing reality during the crisis. Continued dialogue among all stakeholders characterized many interventions, with existing programmes requiring continuous adjustments and an agile approach from all parties. Through a sincere partnership approach, built on a longstanding relationship of mutual understanding and trust it is possible to make significant advances in bringing about and sustaining change.

Financing refugees and conflict affected communities: The realities and limitations of comprehensive post-graduate funding for the most marginalised

Annabel Boud, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission/University of Cambridge, Alex Bent, Windle Trust International

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) is a UK government scholarship programme that recruits international students to undertake postgraduate studies at universities across the UK. The scholarship is comprehensive, offering full funding for all travel and living costs on top of tuition fees, and extra financial provision for candidates who have additional needs such as those with families or disabilities. One of its three core objectives is ‘to ensure that our programmes promote equity and inclusion, reward merit, and deliver widespread access, especially to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.’ In order to meet this objective, the CSC partners with several NGOs to increase access for marginalised candidates.

Since 2002 the CSC has worked with Windle Trust International, an education charity working to improve access and the quality of education given to refugees and communities affected by conflict. The partnership has been very successful with over a hundred individuals having been selected and gone on to complete postgraduate awards in the UK, studying at nineteen of the UK's top universities. Despite the financially comprehensive nature of the scholarship, a number of financial gaps still exist that Windle Trust has to navigate. This presentation explores the CSC/Windle partnership in-depth, acting as a case study of the realities of financing education for the most marginalised.

The presentation focusses on the recruitment process, including Windle’s process of selection and the additional support disadvantaged candidates often require, as well as the financial implications of this. It also addresses the practical realities of being responsible for students who have no safety net of their own and the steps Windle Trust take to ensure their candidates have a fair chance of success. Finally, the presentation explores potential solutions to some of the issues described and the wider lessons that can be drawn from this partnership.

Decolonising international and comparative education: privilege, power, and partnership, allyship, coalition

Laila Kadiwal, UCL Institute of Education; Mai Abu Moghli, the Center for Lebanese Studies; Lynsey Robinson, UCL Institute of Education; Maha Shuayb, the Center for Lebanese Studies and Andrew Armstrong, Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies

The Theatre of the Privileged

Following the recent Black Lives Matters protests, there is an increased interest among a large section of the international and comparative education sector in decolonising. This increased interest is evident in the surge in the production of solidarity statements, talks, blogs, articles, and events on the theme of decolonisation. However, as Tuck and Yang (2012, p. 1) highlight, “the easy adoption of decolonizing discourse... turns decolonizing into a metaphor”. There is a heightened danger of decolonisation turning into a tick box exercise and a slogan that reinscribe racial, epistemic, political, and socio-economic domination and that may even disguise neo-colonial agendas.

This interactive Theatre of the Privileged café will explore our intersectional privileges/disadvantages and their implications for decolonising international and comparative education. Drawing upon real-life anonymised examples and our experiences in this field, we will explore some patterns of thinking and writing about international and comparative education that inadvertently reproduce coloniality, white supremacy and varieties of hegemonies in practice. In doing so, we examine how intersectional inequalities underlie international and comparative education research and partnerships and our complicity in perpetuating these. The café, in particular, raises the question of unearned privileges and internalised colonialism as researchers (Tuhiwahi Smith, 1999, p. xvi). It draws attention to the questions of how the ‘white gaze’ (Pailey, 2020), racism and intersectional exclusions shape research, funding, collaborations and knowledge production.

Our approach is influenced by the Theatre of the Oppressed (Boal, 1985), and the Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1972) but unlike Boal and Freire we do not focus mainly on how to assist oppressed people to recognise their oppression. Instead, the Theatre of the Privileged is about people located in relatively privileged intersectional locations recognising their complicity in maintaining systems of oppression. Rooted in critical anti-racist standpoints, the pedagogy invites us to reverse the gaze on research elites, identifying their assumptions, silences, methods, epistemologies, and practices and on us to ‘recognize our complicity in accepting and perpetuating’ unjust structures ((hooks, 1994, p. 44). The problem-posing cafe hopes to enable us to explore and co-construct practical tips and strategies to decolonise our ways of collaborating grounded in the ethical principles of ‘relationships, connections, reciprocity and accountability’ (Smith, 2021, p. xiv)

The Theatre of the Privileged is an innovative critical anti-racist approach to creating a brave/safe space to have ‘both challenging and supportive’ conversations (Racial Justice Network, 2019) in relatively privileged locations about how the field reproduces coloniality and what we can do to challenge it. The format itself is decolonial, where people can work through difficult questions without feeling attacked or shamed. We collapse the distinction between speakers and audience and engage everyone in exploring, showing, analysing and transforming everyday practices that sustain colonisation. It breaks the binary between experts and non-experts, oppressor and oppressed and makes everyone responsible for challenging and transforming unjust structures.

Because conversations around decoloniality are unsettling, uncomfortable and intense, it uses art, drama, and humour to hold this crucial dialogue. Central to it is the concept of ‘unlearning’'. It entails “an effort to forget your usual way of doing something so that you can learn a new and sometimes better way” (Cambridge, 2022).  The co-unlearning participatory approach, while seeking to advance ‘epistemic disobedience’ (Mignolo, 2009) is underpinned by the recognition that these conversations are messy and require going beyond ‘partnership’ to allyship, as co-unlearners. As part of our commitment to anti-racist praxis, allyship is vital to reimagining practices in the field of international and comparative education.


Boal, A., 1985. Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre Communications Group, New York.

Cambridge, 2022. UNLEARN | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary [WWW Document]. URL https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/unlearn (accessed 2.22.22).

Freire, P., 1972. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Sheed and Ward, London.

hooks,  bell, 1994. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Routledge, New York.

Mignolo, W.D., 2009. Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom. Theory Cult. Soc. 26, 8.

Pailey, R.N., 2020. De‐centring the ‘white gaze’of development. Dev. Change 51, 729–745.

Racial Justice Network, 2019. Unlearning Racism Course: anti-racist learning and practice from a position of racial privilege.

Tuck, E., Yang, K.W., 2012. Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization Indig. Educ. Soc. 1.

Tuhiwahi Smith, L., 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Zed Books Ltd., London.

Digital resources to support teaching and learning of mathematics and language when the language of instruction is not a learners’ first language

Sarah Lister and Su Corcoran, Manchester Metropolitan University; Jill Surmont, Vrije Universiteit Brussels; Cristina A. Huertas-Abril, University of Córdoba

For nearly three decades, multilingualism has been one of the most important educational goals in European policy as it is considered key for not only communication, but also for inclusion, personal development and (upward) social mobility (Little, 2019). The promotion of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) was (and remains) one of the most important ways to achieve the plurilingual goals set.

Literacy and numeracy skills are fundamental to ensuring young people have the necessary skills to contribute positively to the workforce and economy but also to help escape the risk of spiralling poverty and a widening of the ‘language gap’ (Johnson & Zentella, 2017), together with the ‘digital gap’ (Hargittai, 2010) resulting from recent crises. These are particularly relevant to the numeracy, literacy and digital divide that can affect migrant and refugee communities, which is an even more pressing consideration given the impact of COVID-19 and the recent conflicts in Eastern Europe.

The ERASMUS+ and British Council funded "Gamifying mathematics in CLIL contexts"-project (2016-2021), aimed to narrow the language and digital gap, promote open, inclusive, and innovative digital practices through tools designed to be used in the classroom and at home. Using game-based learning as a vehicle and context to support learners to become more mathematically and linguistically literate.

During the development of these resources, we discovered that the teaching techniques used in CLIL classrooms are very similar to the principles used in classrooms where pupils do not speak the language of instruction well, such as refugees and migrants (Surmont et al, in press). This made the project particularly pertinent within the EU given the growing number of learners who are in CLIL-educational settings in which they follow a curriculum where at least two instruction languages are used, as well as the growing number of pupils who have not mastered the only instruction language in their curriculum yet as it is not (one of) the language(s) spoken at home (or of course a combination of these two settings). This latter situation is also relevant in countries beyond Europe, where the population speak one or more of a number of local languages that differ from the national language(s) of instruction prioritised by the education systems.

Both settings can present challenges for teachers and learners when engaging with and accessing subject content. This requires teachers to reconsider and adapt teaching strategies to ensure learners’ needs are fully addressed, thereby promoting inclusion and inclusive practices. For example, results from PISA 2015 highlight an attainment gap between migrant learners and peers from non-migrant backgrounds which are in turn shaped by socioeconomic differences as the former “often face the double disadvantage of coming from immigrant and disadvantaged backgrounds” (OECD, 2016b: 244).

The project team, a collaboration across five countries/universities, developed digital resources that are openly accessible online. These resources include the FractioQuest app (https://www.emile-education.com/fraction-quest/ - login: FQMMU541; password: mmu) and a digital portfolio (https://view.genial.ly/61581a687deef00e1f33c20f) of supplementary materials. This app is free from most app stores and contains six games, available in six languages, focused on fractions. The portfolio is an interactive platform that includes a library of mathematics and language resources that can be used in conjunction with the app or as a stand-alone resource.

The Creative session
This interactive session will provide a space for delegates to share their experiences of teaching and learning within contexts where learners do not speak the language of instruction at home as well as finding out about the Gamifying CLIL project and the resources developed.
During the first half of the session, the project, its outcomes, and possibilities will be discussed. We will explore the resources and the evidence-informed principles behind them, and the role of game-based resources in providing opportunities to consolidate and develop greater knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts and numeracy skills and exposure to and practice using the language of schooling for a purpose. We will also discuss tensions that exist when developing digital resources in multiple languages across different local and national contexts, cultures, policies, and curricula.
Based on this discussion, the delegates will be able to collaboratively explore a carousel of practical activities - in small groups - that will provide opportunities to adapt the materials based on specific needs of the delegates. The activities aim to enable the co-creation and sharing/learning from each other’s contexts and experiences, suggesting new and innovative ways of engaging with language and mathematics.

Meanings of conflict in higher education: Towards a democratic paradigm

Helen Murray, University of Sussex

Rather than exceptionalising the threats to universities in ‘societies affected by conflict’, this paper underlines both the ineradicability of conflict within a plural society (Mouffe 2013) and the democratic significance of universities as spaces of public contestation between the market and the state (Honig 2017). Reflecting on the author’s own doctoral research process which looked at the history of the national university in Lebanon over sixty years, through periods of social upheaval, civil war and neoliberal reconstruction, the meaning of ‘conflict’ in relation to higher education is reconsidered within a democratic framing.

The relationship between universities and democracy is a surprisingly under-theorised question, bound up with theories of the public sphere, alongside the rights and freedoms of individual scholars (Holmwood 2017; Marginson 2018).  The precarity of this relationship is increasingly illuminated by the deepening sense of crisis in higher education systems across the globe. This not only relates to direct attacks on academic freedom and university autonomy in contexts of rising authoritarianism, but also a ‘hollowing out’ of the democratic public purposes of universities linked to neoliberal trends that reduce higher education to a solely economic rationality (Brown 2015).

Drawing on case study data from Lebanon, in dialogue with political theory, this paper argues that in order to build a compelling literature on higher education, conflict and peacebuilding, this emerging field needs to go well beyond current preoccupations with human capital and securitisation, to engage with the role of universities in the democratic fabric of society.  By situating the discussion in relation to wider arguments for democratisation in and through higher education (Murray 2021; Choudry and Vally 2020; Bhambra, Nişancıoğlu and Gebrial 2020), the paper will conclude with some reflections on the implications for transnational partnerships and solidarities in higher education.


Bhambra, Gurminder K., Kerem Nişancıoğlu, and Dalia Gebrial. 2020. "Decolonising the university in 2020." Identities 27 (4): 509-516.

Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Mit Press.

Choudry, A. A., and Salim Vally. 2020. The University and Social Justice: Struggles Across the Globe. Pluto Press.

Holmwood, John. 2017. ‘The University, Democracy and the Public Sphere’. British Journal of Sociology of Education 38 (7): 927–42.

Honig, Bonnie. 2017. Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair. Fordham University Press.

Marginson, Simon. 2018. ‘Public/Private in Higher Education: A Synthesis of Economic and Political Approaches’. Studies in Higher Education 43 (2): 322–37.

Mouffe, Chantal. 2013. Agonistics: Thinking the World Politically. Verso Books.

Murray, Helen. 2021. ‘Universities, conflict and the public sphere: Trajectories of the public university in Lebanon.’ PhD diss., University of Sussex.

Drawing on Bronfenbrenner’s Model to Address Intersectional Challenges in Inclusive Education and Develop a Collaborative and Transformative Approach

Anna Hata, University College London

In this paper, I present a critical review of literature on intersectional aspects of inclusion in education, and argue that intersectional lens have been underutilised in the analysis of complex power dynamics. Moreover, while recent studies on inclusive education shed new light on the importance of focusing on students’ voices, the role of students in addressing intersectional injustices have not been well examined.

Methodologically, the presentation will highlight the benefits of Bronfennbrenner’s bioecological model in investigating intersectional challenges around inclusive education (Bronfenbrenner, 2005). The presentation will emphasise how the theory can be used to examine the ways in which wider issues including political, economic and sociocultural factors relate to create intersectional experiences. Moreover, the presentation will explain that the theory is also useful in studying how students can play an active role in creating structural change, rather than being passive recipients of the influence they receive from social contexts. The latter is particularly important in the field of inclusive education, given an increasing need of including students’ voices (Ainscow & Messiou, 2018; Messiou, 2017), not only to investigate their experiences, but also to move into action and promote their participation in decision-making processes.

This presentation will use a case study in Nepal, where historical inequalities by social identities led to a decade long conflict, and since then inclusion in education has been focused as a means to promote social justice. In post-conflict Nepal, learners from marginalised communities continue to face exclusion, and understanding intersectional differences and exploring transformative approaches to education is becoming a key debate (Pherali, 2016; Sharma, 2021). Thus, this study is particularly important.

This research is relevant to the conference theme and particularly partnerships in conflict contexts, in terms of contributing to examining how collaboration with learners in research can promote social justice in post-conflict Nepal.

Co-creating a doctoral community as a pedagogical space for holistic researcher development: Praxis for improving practice

Pui Ki Patricia Kwok, Camilla Hadi Chaudhary, Basirat Razaq-Shuaib, Nidhi Singal, Thilanka Wijesinghe, Stephanie Nowack, University of Cambridge

This paper highlights how a co-created Research Group (RG) redefines the pedagogy for doctoral researcher development. Facing abrupt disruptions to our research and studies in the pandemic, all of us were ill-prepared to be dispersed across various continents. Aspiring to build a caring community in response to both well-being and learning needs, the RG has emerged to forge an inclusive, relational and interdependent partnership among 14 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.

Collectively valuing post-colonial principles, such as research being a relational partnership rather than an extractive act, we argue that formal methodological training has insufficiently equipped researchers with the holistic attributes required for reflective ethical practices. We reflect on how this RG has evolved to provide a pedagogical space for praxis (Freire, 1970) and complement existing doctoral research training. We draw on  Nel Noddings’ (1992) four principles on moral education to reflect on some of our collective learnings.

Firstly, modelling through informal mentoring in the RG has led to a reimagination of power hierarchies different from the usual supervisor-supervisee relations and among students from different backgrounds. This has informed the possibilities of building truly democratic relations in research processes. Secondly, through dialogue, we acknowledged our personal selves by honestly sharing experiences and emotions. This supported an acknowledgment of the self in research and how it plays out in multiple ways. Thirdly, in practice, through dialogue we recognized each other's biases. This helped to develop reflexivity as a mentality integral to all phases in qualitative research. Lastly, our continual engagement through modelling, dialogue and practice led to the confirmation of each other’s strengths to be built on. This has been liberating in understanding our own values and strengths as researchers coming from vastly different cultural settings. By reflecting on, and enacting practice in line with our cherished values, we argue that collectively this Research Group has provided the intellectual safe space to make sense of what ethical research practice looks like in international education and development, beyond what is formally delivered in educational research teaching courses in Universities.