Creative experts to discuss literacy, conflict and more at global education conference in Atlanta

By Natalie Lovenburg

February 28, 2017

More than 23 education experts from Creative Associates International will share insights from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zambia, among other countries, at the 61st annual Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference from March 5 through March 9 in Atlanta.

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The Nigeria Education Crisis Response program is working with communities, officials and families to provide children with access to school, psycho-social support and a sense of stability.

From delivering equitable emergency education in Northern Nigeria to addressing gender gaps in classrooms in Pakistan, Creative will discuss innovative approaches and lessons learned to improve student learning and teacher effectiveness in the most vulnerable environments.

Earl Gast, Senior Vice President of Education and Economic Growth at Creative, says Creative’s experts will present on 13 panels at the conference.

“Creative’s panelists bring a unique set of experiences and expertise expanding access to quality education in some of the world’s most crisis-affected or under-resourced communities. The CIES conference is an important opportunity to share that knowledge, learn from others and cultivate a strong international education community,” says Gast.

This year’s conference theme, “Problematizing (In)Equality: The Promise of Comparative and International Education,” will bring more than 2,500 educators, policymakers and practitioners from international education together to foster exchange and present on the latest research and experiences from the field.

For a full schedule of Creative’s CIES 2017 panels, including panelists, times and locations, click here. Follow @1977Creative and #CIES2017 on Twitter for up-to-date panel coverage.

Accessing education in vulnerable environments

“Creative’s panelists bring a unique set of experiences and expertise expanding access to quality education in some of the world’s most crisis-affected or under-resourced communities. The CIES conference is an important opportunity to share that knowledge, learn from others and cultivate a strong international education community”

Earl Gast, Senior Vice President of Education and Economic Growth

Attacks by violent extremists in Northern Nigeria have forced more than 2.5 million people to flee their homes—including more than 1 million school-aged children. USAID’s Education Crisis Response program is increasing access to quality and relevant non-formal education, as well as providing psychosocial support, for some 88,000 internally displaced children and youth ages 6-17.

Creative’s Director of Education in Conflict, Eileen St. George, Ph.D., will chair the CIES conference panel: “Delivering equitable emergency education through an adaptive model in Northeast Nigeria,” which will examine case studies from the Education Crisis Response program. It is scheduled for March 8 from 3:15-4:45 p.m.

The panel will address some of the major barriers these displaced children face in accessing education and the project’s approach to bridging those gap, explains St. George.

“Conflict-affected areas, such as in Northern Nigeria, often have the lowest literacy and numeracy levels in the world, as internally displaced children face major barriers to receiving a quality education,” she says. “By creating a safe environment for learning and healing, and working with the community to address critical needs, we are achieving significant gains in advancing education in the most sensitive areas,” says St. George.

Joining St. George on the panel will be four Creative colleagues, Deputy Project Director and State Team Leader for Education Crisis Response Dalhatu Sulaiman Darazo, who will share techniques in addressing the learning and psychosocial needs of internally displaced children and youth; Chief of Party for Education Crisis Response Ayo Oladini, who will discuss the role of feedback loops in adapting and improving project implementation in a conflict setting; and Gombe State Team Leader Education Crisis Response Helen John, who will address increasing girls’ access to education. Jake Thomsen, Technical Manager in Education and Conflict, will serve as a discussant.

To learn more about this innovative USAID-supported project, please view these two special reports called “Nigeria: Fresh starts, new skills for internally displaced children” and “Nigeria: Providing hope and community support to internally displaced children” that include short videos, articles and photos.

Creative’s Susan Ayari, Senior Associate in Education in Conflict, will join the Deputy Minister of Education of Afghanistan Mohammed Ibrahim Shinwari and USAID representatives to present on the panel: “Ingredients of Successful Partnering in Afghanistan: Laying the Foundations for Success in Scaling-up Improved Teaching and Learning.” It is scheduled for March 6 from 9:45-11:15 a.m.

Chief of Party for Creative’s Afghan Children Read Program Mamdouh Fadil, Ph.D, will share approaches when partnering with donors and partners, such as Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education.

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By 2020, the Afghan Children Read project will have improved the reading skills of more than 450,000 children in 1,229 schools in first through third grades.

The Afghan Children Read program is working with the country’s Ministry of Education to build and implement a national early grade reading program, while improving the ability of the federal government to scale up and sustain the model.

Ayari describes the partnership is critical to the project’s success.

“To implement an effective and sustainable early grade literacy program in conflict and crisis countries, collaboration with the host government is absolutely vital from the very beginning. It ensures that the project goals are aligned with national goals and that, together, we can improve learning outcomes for some of the most vulnerable learners,” says Ayari.

In an effort to shares lessons learned and continue to improve the delivery of education in conflict settings, Creative’s Karen Tietjen, Director of Instructional Systems and Governance, is a speaker on the panel: “Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings.” It is scheduled for March 6 from 3:15-4:45 p.m.

For a full schedule of Creative’s CIES 2017 panels, including panelists, times and locations, click here. Follow @1977Creative and #CIES2017 on Twitter for up-to-date panel coverage.

Advancing literacy outcomes

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The Pakistan Reading Project integrates a gender mainstreaming approach into understanding education challenges, training educators and improving children’s reading.

Literacy provides a foundation for lifelong learning and has the ability to transform lives. Globally, more than 781 million youth are illiterate, with young women representing more than 60 percent of that number. Gender is a key factor in who has access to education

At CIES, Creative’s education experts will share their expertise supporting local and national efforts to increase student learning achievement–especially literacy–by improving equitable access to quality education.

Shaheen Ashraf Shah, Ph.D., Gender Advisor for Creative’s USAID-supported Pakistan Reading Project—along with panelists from Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Columbia University, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Texas and USAID will present—“Gender and Education Issues in Pakistan: Gaps, Bias, Teachers and School Conditions.” It is scheduled for March 7 from 4:30-6 p.m.

“We will explore in-depth research on the gender gap in education in Pakistan, specifically in reading initiatives, showcase how we are promoting gender equality in the Pakistan Reading Project and focus on how girls and boys are affected differently,” says Shah.

The Pakistan Reading Project, which works to boost early grade reading outcomes for 1.3 million first and second grade students, integrates a gender mainstreaming approach into understanding education challenges, training educators, and improving children’s reading.

Creative’s Education Program Specialist for the Northern Education Initiative Plus, Muhammed Bello Yusuf, will present on the CIES conference panel: “System Strengthening for Improved Reading Outcomes and Increased Access in Northern Nigeria: Perspectives and Practices from the USAID Northern Education Initiative Plus Program.”

Joining Yusuf on the panel will be USAID, Commissioner of Education in Sokoto State Jabi Kigori, Hausa and Curriculum Expert; Deputy Director of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council Garba Gandu Director of Planning, Research, and Statistics at the Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board Abubakar Mansur, and two Creative colleagues focused on the Northern Education Initiative Plus Program: Sokoto State Teacher Education Officer, Zahra’u Maishanu and Senior System Strengthening Specialist Musa Salami.

For a full schedule of Creative’s CIES 2017 panels, including panelists, times and locations, click here. Follow @1977Creative and #CIES2017 on Twitter for up-to-date panel coverage.

Creative’s exhibit

In addition to the robust panel sessions, Creative will have an exhibit at CIES. Education staff members assist visitors with insight into its programs, approaches and to elaborate on topics presented at CIES. Visit us at Creative booth 47 and 48.

Recruiters from its Human Resources Department will be available to discuss employment opportunities.

Follow Creative

Creative will post regular reports to its website from CIES, as well as live updates via social media (@1977Creative and #CIES2017).

To visit Creative’s CIES 2017 Special Report hub, click here.

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