7 quotes from CIES to keep you thinking about education development

By Ashley Williams

April 19, 2019

The annual Comparative and International Education Society conference has come to a close, and professionals from all parts of the sector are still processing the insights and findings presented in the many sessions. As Creative team members sift through their notes, a handful of quotes stand out as summaries of meaningful panels and as thought-provoking calls to keep the conversation going.

Here are a few of our favorites from the past week:

1. Invest in “humanware”

“It’s not about software, it’s not about hardware, it’s about the humanware. You have to develop us first before you bring all of those [technologies] and put them in the school.”

-Mona Younes from Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies recalling what a teacher said when asked why educators were not using computers the government had brought into classrooms.

2. On language and social status 

“You can never really talk about education without bringing up the social debate around languages and around the social status of people who speak the language.”

– Creative’s Senior Literacy Advisor Fathi El-Ashry discussing how politically charged language is in Morocco where he works on the USAID-funded National Program for Reading.

3. Education is interconnected

“You cannot treat any component of education in isolation, especially in early grade reading.”

Naeem Sohail-Butt, Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project, while talking about how programs need to address the whole student and their needs – such as health and safety – to foster academic success.

4. On the quality of EGRA

“The EGRA [Early Grade Reading Assessment] is only as good as the quality of the tool and the quality of the methodology.”

USAID’s Melissa Chiappetta during a session about the potential of EGRA and how it compares to other reading assessments.

 5. Education is political

“We need to stop romanticizing school and we need to accept that working in education means working in a politically loaded environment.”

-Mamdouh Fadil, Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Afghan Children Read project, during a presentation about politics and language. Read the full story from this session here.

6. Talk to students

“Having meaningful discussions with children may seem normal to us, but it is a radical idea in some parts of the world.”

-Corrie Blankenbeckler, Senior Project Director for Creative, while talking about the concept of “nutritious conversation” to help foster a literate environment through the USAID-funded Vamos Ler!/Let’s Read! program in Mozambique.

7. The case for mother-tongue instruction

“Children learn best in a language they know. This is obvious … There is no learning if there is no common language between the teacher and students, because education is two ways. It’s not only the teacher speaking … If we let the children begin [school] in their own language it will be a springboard for them.”

-Mesfin Derash Zeme, Materials Development Specials for the USAID-funded Ethiopia READ II project, speaking about the case for first teaching children in a language they understand.

Share your reflections from CIES

What stuck with you from CIES? Keep the conversation going on Twitter using #CIES2019 and tag @1977Creative.

To visit Creative’s CIES 2019 Special Report hub and get recaps from conference sessions, click here

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