The University of East Anglia was invited by UNESCO to join its prestigious universities network and established the first UNESCO Chair in adult literacy and learning for social transformation in May 2016.

After a successful first phase, the Chair (based in the UEA School of Education and Lifelong Learning) has been renewed until April 2024.

This UNESCO Chair programme aims to develop understanding about how adult learning – particularly for women and young adults - can help address inequalities in the poorest communities of the world. Through investigating how or why adult literacy might facilitate or respond to processes of social transformation, including women’s empowerment, the Chair programme sets out to strengthen the interaction between formal, non-formal and informal learning in research, policy and programmes. The programme builds directly on the expertise of the UEA Literacy and Development Group, which brings together researchers in education and international development from across the University of East Anglia (LDG Group). Professor  Anna Robinson-Pant is the UNESCO Chairholder, leading a faculty team consisting of: Dr. Sheila Aikman, Dr. Catherine Jere, Professor Yann Lebeau, Dr. Esther Priyadharshini, Professor Nitya Rao, Professor Alan Rogers.

This UNESCO Chair programme 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), Malawi  (University of Malawi School of Education and the Centre of Language Studies), Egypt (Ain Shams University) and the Philippines (University of Santo Tomas). We are working together to strengthen qualitative research capacity in the field of adult literacy, learning and social transformation through collaborative research and curriculum development activities. The UNESCO Chair is also developing new initiatives with key policy organisations in this field, including the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg. Supporting a rights-based holistic approach to adult learning as the basis for active citizenship and improved livelihoods, we aim to promote greater interaction between research and policy in areas such as vocational skill development, health, agriculture and adult literacy learning.

Some highlights

'Family Literacy and Indigenous and Local Learning', synthesis and country reports

In summer 2021, the UNESCO Chair family literacy team published the Synthesis Report bringing together findings and analyses from the in-depth country-focused research reports and literature review papers.

For International Literacy Day, the country teams published in-depth reports based on their ethnographic research.


UNV State of the World’s Volunteerism Report 2022

The UEA UNESCO Chair commissioned UNV State of the World’s Volunteerism (SWVR) 2022 Building Equal and Inclusive Societies has been launched on 2 December in line with International Volunteers Day celebrations. 


A tribute to Lalage Bown from the UEA UNESCO Chair

Just before Christmas, we heard the sad news about our dear friend and colleague, Prof. Lalage Bown, who died at the age of 94 on 17 December 2021. Many of you will have met Lalage at the...

EDU-DEV Seminar Series Spring 2022

This year, our regular cross-school public seminar series on Education and Development continues  to focus on the theme of learning, social movements and collective action.

UNESCO Chair Newsletter - December 2021

Many thanks to Qingru Wang (coordinator) and the newsletter team who have worked so hard to put this edition together: Yeonhee Sun, Abigail Martinez Renteria, Giana Bakanou, Rafif Hakiem, Hélène...

International webinar on family literacy and indigenous and local learning - 9 December 2021

On 9 December, the UEA UNESCO Chair will be co-hosting an international webinar with UNESCO’s Section of Youth, Literacy and Skills Development, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the...

Family Literacy Project

Read reports from Ethiopia, Nepal, Malaw1 and the Philippines , published for International Literacy Day.

Decolonising Literacy blog series launched: a follow-up blog

Last November, the UNESCO Chair team co-hosted a conference with BALID (British Association for Literacy in Development) to explore the theme of ‘decolonising literacy’ through Brian Street’s...

Newsletter - May 2021

UEA UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation Read the May 2021 newsletter

Webinar - Family literacy and indigenous learning: perspectives from Malawi, Nepal, Ethiopia and the Philippines (October 2021)

Family literacy programmes in the Global South have tended to be modelled on US/UK approaches, underpinned by assumptions about nuclear families and promoting Western...

Photo prize: family learning

How are you and your family learning together during the COVID-19 pandemic? What does literacy look like at home and in your community? Post a photo depicting your answer to these questions,...

Family literacy research methodology workshops in Nepal

The Research Center for Educational Innovation & Development (CERID) Nepal conducted their third Research Methodology Workshop in the last week of August and we are delighted to share this...