Creative to share insights on self-reliance, policy & more at global education conference
By Ashley Williams
April 9, 2019
More than a dozen education experts from Creative Associates International will share evidence-based practices for achieving sustainable, scalable education reform at this year’s Comparative & International Education Society (CIES) conference in San Francisco — the premier education conference in the industry.
Held April 14 to 18, this year’s conference focuses on Education for Sustainability, touching the core of Creative’s work globally with ministries of education, communities, educators and families to achieve long-lasting education reform and student learning gains.
This year’s theme affords a critical opportunity for Creative’s experts to discuss proven education approaches from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mozambique and elsewhere, as well as to learn from others in the field.
Creative’s speakers will present on the policies, language considerations, classroom practices and learning materials that are critical to education for global development.
Taking on policy
Tackling this questions, Eileen St. George, Vice President of Creative’s Education Division, will participate in a roundtable discussion on “Pathways to self-reliance and sustainability” with education professionals from FHI 360, RTI International, World Education, Inc., Geneva Global and Education Development Center. She will speak to the specific conditions that must be fostered for sustainability and capacity building in the conflict context.
“What I hope is that those who join us for this discussion walk away inspired to continue the discussion within the professional community to advance our collective understanding for the continuum to self-reliance, factors to be considered and the cross-sector coordination that is required,” says St. George.
To illustrate how the journey to self-reliance manifests practically in specific contexts, Creative’s Director of the Middle East and Asia Education Portfolio Susan Ayari, along with key staff and partners from the USAID-funded Afghan Children Read and Pakistan Reading Project will present during the “Multiple paths toward sustainable policymaking: Strategies for creating and implementing early grade reading policies” session.
They will discuss how international development practitioners can collaborate with local policymakers and educational planners to develop, implement and institutionalize early grade reading policies in a sustainable and scalable manner.
Narrowing the focus to a specific area of early grade education policy, Mustapha Ahmad and Nurudeen Adeshina Lawal from the USAID-funded Northern Education Initiative Plus project will dive into “The role of EGRA in reading education, policy and reform.” Their presentation will explore national policy perspectives on learning assessment and the future of early grade reading in Nigeria.
Language in education
In contexts as diverse and multilingual as those where Creative works — Mozambique, Ethiopia, Morocco and more — education policy must consider the implications of which language or languages are chosen as the language of instruction. As Creative’s experts explain, the language of instruction can have an outsized impact on student learning and comprehension.
In the “Transitioning from mother tongue to multiple languages” session, Samima Patel, Senior Reading Specialist from the USAID-funded Vamos Ler!/Let’s Read! project, will present on transition challenges and opportunities in the complex multilingual context of Mozambique. She will discuss the process of developing grade 3 curricula and the importance of oral language development in both the local and national languages.
The panel “Literacy, language, politics and money,” chaired by Creative’s Technical Director of Education for Development Karen Tietjen, will include three presentations by the Creative team that look at how language factors into educational programing. In one, Materials Development Specialist from the USAID-funded Ethiopia READ II project Mesfin Derash Zeme will discuss the demand for learning to read in English in Ethiopia, how mother tongue instruction fits into that demand and the challenges associated with system strengthening efforts and materials development in a changing political landscape.
In another, Creative’s Senior Technical Advisor Fathi El-Ashry for the National Program for Reading and the Moroccan Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research Said Amzazi will talk about the use of Moroccan Arabic and delivery of the national early grade Arabic language program. The two presenters will explain the national debate that erupted on social media over a few Moroccan Arabic words being used in a Standard Arabic textbook, the history of the language issue and how the Ministry responded.
In the third presentation, Senior Systems Strengthening Specialist for Vamos Ler! Rosa Paula Dimande and the Deputy Director of Basic Education Teles de Jesus will discuss bilingual education efforts in Mozambique and the challenges faced because it has not yet been fully embraced.
Succeeding in the classroom
Creative’s programs focus on change from the systems level down to classroom, teacher and student levels, which will be another major topic covered by Creative’s expert at the conference. Panelists will discuss how programs can care for students and teachers to facilitate learning in complex environments.
Janet Shriberg, Creative’s Senior Technical Advisor for Child Protection and Wellbeing, will chair a round table called “Beyond scripted lessons — exploring diverse social-emotional learning practices and research approaches.” During the round table, Creative’s Ayari will also present on how teachers reached by Afghan Children Read perceive the impact of the project’s integrated Social and Emotional Learning approach on the classroom environment, teaching, learning and classroom management.
Two members of the USAID-funded Northern Education Initiative Plus team will be presenting during the session on “Coaching to improve early grade reading instruction: Evidence on effectiveness and sustainability.” Mark Anthony Hamilton and Daniel Fwanshishak will discuss how the project in Nigeria is equipping school support officers with the technological tools and systems needed to succeed as coaches for teachers.
Creative’s Jeffrey Alan Coupe will participate in a roundtable discussion titles “Towards an inclusive citizenship and democratic education: Engaging questions of access, inequality and privilege.” He will discuss how disadvantaged students, who have the most to gain from quality civic learning, attend the schools least capable of delivering it. The conversation will ask participants to weigh in on what systems need to be in place and how to promote equitable civic learning in these contexts.
Senior Literacy and School Readiness Advisor Joanie Cohen will chair the panel “It takes a village: Enhancing the literacy ecosystem for young learners in Ethiopia and Mozambique.” During the panel, Senior Program Associate Megan Schug will present on the early warning system framework and tool that is used to raise the alarm when students are at-risk of school dropout and how it is being successfully implemented.
Developing and delivering learning materials
Learning materials are an important part of the education programs Creative implements and working with ministries to develop the expertise and systems to produce them is a critical component of sustainability.
Senior Project Director Corrie Blankenbeckler will present during the “Developing effective and appropriate decodable and leveled books” session on developing a culture of reading in Mozambique. Blankenbeckler will discuss how the Vamos Ler!/Let’s Read project is combating low literacy rates and reading material scarcity developing supplementary texts and creative solutions like exploring the feasibility of SMS-based stories to support at-home reading.
Distributing learning materials in complex environments is full of challenges. During the “Track and trace models facilitating book distribution and more access” panel, Ayan Kishore, Director of the Creative Development Lab, will share how Creative has used Track and Trace technology to improve book delivery. He will also outline opportunities for blockchain approaches to further optimize the process and look at the considerations for adopting the blockchain protocol from the standpoint of potential stakeholders in Afghanistan.
Mamdouh Fadil, Chief of Party for the Afghan Children Read Project, will keep the conversation going in the “Tech tools for tough terrain” session by discussing how the project is moving to a sustainable and scalable system for textbook delivery.
To visit Creative’s CIES 2019 Special Report hub, click here. For a full schedule of Creative’s CIES 2019 panels, including panelists, times and locations, click here. In addition to the panel sessions, stop by booths 16-18 to engage with education experts and learn more about Creative’s global projects. Follow us on Twitter @1977Creative for live updates.