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International Literacy Day 2017

On September 8th, UEA UNESO Chair team were represented by Dr. Catherine Jere at the international conference on Literacy in a Digital World held at UNESCO Paris, hosted by the Education 2030 team, including Mari Yasunaga, a member of the UNESCO Chair Review Group. Here is Catherine’s report on International Literacy Day in Paris. At UEA, we celebrated with lively discussion, lunch and presentations on adult literacy given by Dr. Sushan Acharya from Tribhuvan University Nepal, Prof. Anna Robinson-Pant, and Dr. Gina Lontoc, from the University of San Tomas in the Philippines. Here is Gina’s report on the events at UEA.

Literacy research and capacity building initiatives in Afghanistan

George Kadiri, consultant to the Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA) Programme in UNESCO Kabul, wrote to the UNESCO Chair at UEA about planned developments in Afghanistan and to explore opportunities for collaboration.  Professor Alan Rogers  offered to take forward this initiative on behalf of the UNESCO Chair team, building on his  earlier contribution and experience as consultant with (ELA) Programme and his continuing links with that programme (see Alan Rogers 2014 Skills Development and Literacy: some ethnographic challenges to policy and practice, CARE working paper No. 2, UEA, available in pdf )


There are at the moment three main activities:

a) judging a national literacy competition and awarding the prizes;

b) general research-led assistance: Alan Rogers has for several years been responding to requests to comment  on draft plans for programme and curriculum development and to provide from his experience an indication of possible lines of developing literacy with skills development

c)  George Kadiri is exploring the possibility that, if and when Alan Rogers visits Kabul, a short training programme can be offered to key players at Kabul University  on ‘researching adult literacy in Afghanistan’. This would be based on the LETTER programme and offer training to participants from NGOs and the Ministry of Education, as well as university staff,  in the uses of ethnographic and participatory approaches. The overall aim would be to develop the university’s capacity to deliver similar adult literacy facilitator training and curriculum development programmes in the future.

UEA UNESCO Chair Members present at the 14th UKFIET International Conference 2017

UEA UNESCO Chair members, Dr. Sushan Acharya (Tribhuvan University), Dr. Amina Singh (Kathmandu University), Dr. Gina Lontoc (UEA Visiting Fellow), Ahmmardouh Mjaya (UEA PhD student) and Prof. Anna Robinson-Pant (UEA Chairholder) participated in the 14th UKFIET International Conference with the theme, Learning and Teaching for Sustainable Development: Curriculum, Cognition and Context. This was held at the University of Oxford from 5th - 7th September 2017. See here for the full report by Gina Lontoc:



Symposium and Writers’ Workshops to be hosted at Ain Shams University, Cairo: Apply Now!

From December 17th – 20th 2017, a series of workshops will be held at Ain Shams University in Egypt as part of the BAICE-funded Writing For Academic Publication programme. Senior academics based in Egypt and the region are invited to apply for places at the Symposium on ‘Building a Research Writing Culture’ (on December 20th).

A limited number of bursaries to cover travel and accommodation costs are being provided by BAICE (British Association for International and Comparative Education) to participants coming from ODA-listed countries outside Egypt. a

A two-day writers’ workshop is being organised for junior scholars who wish to publish their work in Compare: a journal of comparative and international education, and for PhD students in Egypt, a one-day workshop on turning a thesis into journal articles.

The programme will be facilitated by Prof. Anna Robinson-Pant and Dr. Anna Magyar from UEA, and hosted by Dr. Rasha Kamal and Dr. Ashour Amry from Ain Shams University.

Applications must be received by 1st November by Miriam McGregor at Compare@uea.ac.uk (all enquiries to this address).

Compare Workshop Application Form
Symposium Application Form



























UNESCO Chair newsletter - first issue

We are pleased to share the first issue of our UNESCO Chair newsletter, compiled by Dr. Eleni Konidari from the UEA UNESCO Chair team.

Download the newsletter


On September 8th, the UEA team held an informal seminar and lunch with researchers, students and local literacy practitioners to mark International Literacy Day. The event was chaired by Prof. Alan Rogers, and we were delighted to welcome Dr. Sushan Acharya, from our UNESCO Chair programme in Nepal and Dr. Gina Lontoc from the Philippines, presenting on their recent research on literacy, health, gender equality and rural livelihoods: 

  • ‘Women, literacy and health in Nepal: an alternative approach for sustainable livelihoods’, by  Dr. Sushan Acharya (Associate Professor, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu)  and Prof. Anna Robinson-Pant, UEA.   
  • ‘Developing capabilities for sustainable livelihoods’ Dr. Gina Lontoc (University of Santo Tomas, Philippines).

In discussion, participants reflected on the continuing gap between the ways in which people engage with literacy in their everyday lives and the more formalised ‘schooled’ approach to literacy promoted in development programmes, as well as the different understandings of ‘literacy’ in policy discourses over the decades.

While we were celebrating in Norwich, Dr. Catherine Jere represented the UEA UNESCO Chair at the UNESCO Paris International Literacy Day event on ‘Literacy in a Digital World’.

A Dialogue on Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation

Professor Anna Robinson-Pant attended the UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office and UNESCO IICBA. Anna emphasised the need for inter-sectoral cooperation to achieve Adult Literacy. The topic was thoroughly discussed. Have a read about this important and inspirational visit.

Article in Kathmandu Publication

UNESCO Kathmandu country office translated an article by UNESCO Chair holder, Anna Robinson-Pant, reflecting on her experience in adult literacy in Nepal over the past three decades. The article – entitled ‘Literacy, women’s empowerment and sustainable development: old wine in new bottles?’ - has just been published in the weekly educational newspaper Aajako Siksha.

Download article one & two

Download the article in English


UNESCO Chair academic writing workshops in Nepal

Anna Robinson-Pant has just returned from Nepal where she ran a series of workshops with Dr. Anna Magyar (EDU Visiting Fellow) on academic writing and publishing. The workshops, hosted by Kathmandu University and funded by BAICE (British Association for International and Comparative Education), included a day workshop for PhD students on how to develop a thesis into journal articles and a two-day workshop for Faculty (from Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University) on writing an article for the journal Compare. 

A symposium was also held for ‘writing champions’ (senior academics) who came from institutions around Nepal, as well as from universities in the Philippines, India, Cambodia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The aim of the symposium was to build institutional - rather than simply individual - research and writing capacity among scholars in the Global South, with a view to participants embedding or adapting some of the ideas and activities within their own institutions. 

The symposium built on scoping research that Anna RP had conducted with academics in Nepal earlier in the year exploring issues around the geopolitics of academic writing. There was much appreciation of the “constructive, lively, inspired/inspiring” atmosphere in the sessions,  summed up by one participant: “Thank you so much for having it here. I really liked the activities and supportive system in helping encourage scholars from disadvantaged countries to have an opportunity in getting published in international level. Really appreciate it!”

Anna spent a further three days in Nepal working on a research proposal with university colleagues, as well as  discussions about possible

 research collaboration with VSO, UNESCO Kathmandu, Youth Action Nepal and the newly established Language Commission.






New Study on Folk Development Colleges

Professor Alan Rogers has recently completed a study of the Folk Development Colleges (FDCs) of Tanzania. Founded in 1975 at the specific request of Julius Nyerere, the first President of the newly independent Tanzania, and with assistance from Swedish adult educators and support from the Swedish government aid agency, some 52 adult education institutions are scattered throughout the country, some in fairly remote settings. They have undergone many changes in the 40 or more years of their existence, at first under the Ministry of Education, then under the Ministry of Community Development, Women and Children, and now back with the Ministry of Education with a remit to strengthen their educational activities of vocational training while retaining their outreach programmes of short courses and other activities. This is the third review that Alan Rogers with others has made of the FDCs, in 1997, 2013 and now 2017. In his report, compiled with the assistance of Dr Mpoki Mwaikokesya of the University of Dar es Salaam, Alan argues that the Sustainable Development Goals provide a rationale for all the activities of the FDCs (including skills development) by forming partnerships with development agencies across the whole field of the SDGs, bringing development assistance as well as vocational training to many parts of the country.

The full report and a short summary can be downloaded from here

UNESCO Chair Launch

On February 27th 2017, the UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation was formally launched at a programme opened by the Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, Prof. David Richardson, and the Chief Executive of the National Commission for UNESCO in the UK, James Bridge. Over 50 participants from around the UK and from across the University of East Anglia came to the event, including many key institutions and individuals in the development of adult literacy and development research.  A group in UNESCO Paris HQ also watched the programme via Skype.

More information.

UNESCO Chair Review Group meeting

The first annual review group meeting was held on the morning of February 27th 2017, bringing together partners from across three continents for a stimulating discussion and presentations on how to develop and implement the UEA UNESCO Chair programme. James Bridge, Chief Executive of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, skilfully chaired this virtual and face-to-face meeting and commented later that through ‘sharing of context-based knowledge between different countries’, this review group and the first meeting could provide an example of good practice for other UNESCO Chair programmes.

Visit to Nepal UNESCO Chair Programme

Anna Robinson-Pant has just returned from two weeks in Kathmandu, where she worked with Prof. Mahesh Parajuli at Kathmandu University (KU),  Prof. Jiba Nath Dhital (newly appointed director of CERID) and Dr. Sushan Acharya at Tribhuvan University (TU) on activities and proposals for developing the UNESCO chair programme.  A full day workshop was run at Kathmandu University for around 35 doctoral students from both universities on an introduction to participatory research. Anna gave a seminar for faculty on ‘Exploring Insider-Outsider Research in Comparative and International Education’ at TU Faculty of Education at Kirtipur and on ‘Research as an intercultural encounter’ at Martin Chautari centre.

A major aim of this visit was to investigate possible collaborative research and funding sources for the proposed activities in Nepal.  Dr. Hari Lamsal, Joint Secretary, convened a meeting at the Ministry of Education to discuss Government priorities in lifelong learning and adult literacy with regard to the UNESCO chair programme. The Unesco Chair team developed a concept note which is now being discussed further. A meeting was also held with Dr. Kamleshwar Kumar Sinha, Deputy Secretary General of the Nepal National Commission for UNESCO to discuss with colleagues how the UNESCO chair could support key priorities for community and adult education. Also present in this meeting was Mr. Balaram Timilsina, the then Under Secretary in the Commission Office, who is now appointed as Education Officer in UNESCO country office in Kathmandu. Several exploratory meetings were also held with key development agencies in Nepal who are working in this area to explore potential for future collaboration.

Whilst in Kathmandu, Anna conducted scoping research (focus group discussions and interviews with doctoral students and faculty) on academic writing and publishing as the first stage of a BAICE-funded project with the journal Compare to strengthen academic writing in Nepali universities and in the region. Three BAICE-funded workshops will be held in May for research students, academic staff and ‘writing champions’ – further details are available from compare@uea.ac.uk.


Visit by Ulrike Hanemann from UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning

Dr. Hanemann, Senior Programme Specialist from UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) visited UEA on 17th November to give a public seminar in the Education and Development series on ‘Examining the campaign approach to adult literacy: which lessons can be drawn from experiences in the past decade?’ (See LDG website for the hand-out).   A meeting was also held with the core UNESCO Chair programme team (Anna Robinson-Pant, Sheila Aikman, Nitya Rao, Alan Rogers, Catherine Jere and Spyros Themelis) to  plan possible collaborative activities with UIL, including a policy briefing paper, student internships to develop case studies for the UIL database and a co-hosted conference. In the afternoon, PhD/post-doctoral members of the Literacy and Development Group gave rich presentations on their research in adult learning, literacy and development: Eleni Konidari, Fusheng Jia, Ahmmardouh Mjaya, Demelash Woldu, Huslinda Nur Che Mat, Burcu Evren and Chris Millora. Rafif Hakiem and Chris Millora have written a report of the meeting which is available on the LDG website here


New publication: ‘Learning Knowledge and Skills for
Agriculture to Improve Rural Livelihoods’

This book is the result of a joint qualitative research project implemented by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and UNESCO in Cambodia, Egypt and Ethiopia. Anna Robinson-Pant was the Global Research Coordinator for the project, working with teams in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Egypt. The research team in Egypt was led by Professor Dr. Moheb el Rafei with colleagues from the Adult Education Centre at Ain Shams University and led directly to the collaboration with UEA for this UNESCO Chair programme. In Ethiopia, Turuwark Zalalam Warkineh from Bahir Dar University (current UNESCO Chair partner institution) conducted the research with a team from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research.

Ethnographic-style and participatory research was conducted in two fieldsites in each of the countries, with the aim of looking beyond the formal education sector  to understand more about the kind of learning that is taking place in rural contexts. For the young people who took part, schooling, other forms of learning, skills development and literacy, agriculture, livelihoods, social identities, social change and rural transformation, are all closely connected, regardless of policy and administrative boundaries. Their perceptions illustrate why expanding the current form of schooling alone is inadequate if learning is to be more meaningful and beneficial for their lives. Recommendations offered will be valuable for those who are rethinking policies and practice for enhancing learning for young people in rural areas, within and beyond the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

See below for details about the publication from the IFAD-UNESCO team.

“On the occasion of International Literacy Day, we are pleased to share the link to a new IFAD-UNESCO publication 'Learning Knowledge and Skills for Agriculture to Improve Rural Livelihoods', written by Dr Anna Robinson-Pant. It offers rich insights into what and how young people learn in rural areas, especially girls and women, which is key for creating inclusive sustainable societies”.

The book is available to download as a pdf


International Literacy Day celebrations and new publication

Anna Robinson-Pant attended the ILD celebrations at UNESCO Paris on September 8th. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) published her paper, Promoting Health and Literacy for Women’s Empowerment . The third paper in a UIL series of studies on literacy and gender equality, this was commissioned and published by UIL for the 2016 International Literacy Day (September 8), and can be downloaded from the webpage.


UNESCO Chair Studentship awarded at UEA

We are delighted to announce that the UEA UNESCO Chair PhD studentship has been awarded to Christopher Millora. We had an unprecedented number of high quality applications for the studentship from all over the world. Chris began his PhD studies at UEA in October 2016. He plans to conduct an ethnographic study that will explore the adult learning and literacy dimension of volunteerism, particularly in relation to the ways in which marginalized youth and adults in the Philippines engage in volunteer work.  He is interested in investigating the social processes of marginalized communities that may cultivate or confine the members’ learning experiences and personal transformation.

Chris is a recent graduate of a joint MA in Lifelong Learning: Policy and Management from the Danish School of Education, University of Deusto and UCL Institute of Education. Prior to this, he had over five years of experience as a professional and volunteer in the Philippine education and development sectors. He worked as a university teacher, a student retention specialist, a programme officer for an early grades literacy project and a volunteer of various community engagement and youth formation programmes.