Creative’s experts to speak at global education conference

By Natalie Lovenburg

March 21, 2018

More than 30 education experts from Creative Associates International will share case studies on delivering quality education in complex environments from Afghanistan, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia, among other countries, at the annual Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference in Mexico City.

The March 25 to 29 CIES conference will bring together thousands of educators, policymakers and practitioners in international education to exchange ideas and present on the latest research and experiences from the field.

The 2018 conference theme “Re-Mapping Global Education: South-North Dialogue” aims to emphasize the importance of global South-North dialogue and South-South collaboration.

Earl Gast, Senior Vice President of Education for Development and Economic Growth at Creative, says that by sharing best practices from language mapping in conflict-affected, multilingual settings like Afghanistan to shaping early grade reading policies in northern Nigeria, Creative’s education experts can offer lessons that may help address education challenges in other regions.

“This year’s CIES theme speaks to the importance of capturing knowledge and experiences from a wide geographical area,” says Gast. “To transform learning in complex and challenging environments, collaboration among education experts from the global North and South is needed.”

Gast says Creative’s experts will focus on approaches, innovations and measuring results.

Follow the conversation

For  regular updates from CIES 2018, visit Creative’s Special Report page, as well as live updates via Twitter: @1977Creative and #CIES2018.

For a full schedule of Creative’s CIES 2018 panels, including panelists, times and locations, click here. In addition to the panel sessions, stop by booth 54 to engage with education experts and to learn more about Creative’s global projects.

Understanding the multilingual context

From Mozambique to Afghanistan, Creative’s education experts will share their expertise at CIES in supporting local and national efforts to implement effective multilingual education programs.

Creative’s Senior Associate for Instructional Systems and Governance, Corrie Blankenbeckler, along with nine panelists from American Institutes for Research, OSC Education, World Education, University of Cambridge, Planet Aid and ADPP Mozambique, will present on the panel “Mythbusters: Aspirations vs. Reality for Language of Instruction in Mozambique.” It is scheduled for March 26 from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

Blankenbeckler says being able to read and interact with text in local languages is significant for young learners, especially in the Mozambique multilingual context.

“In the classroom setting, children need to fully understand what is being communicated from their teacher, especially in the early grades,” says Blankenbeckler. “In Mozambique, students lack literacy skills because there’s a disconnect between the language of students speak at home and in the community, and the language of instruction, Portuguese.”

Afghan Children Read, a five-year primary education project, is applying innovative approaches to tackle learning barriers in complex environments.

The USAID-funded Let’s Read! (Vamos Ler! in Portuguese) supports the Mozambican government to improve the reading and writing skills of children in first, second and third grades through literacy materials in local languages. The program is simultaneously supporting oral language skills in Portuguese to prepare students for the transition from their local languages to the national language in grade 4.

Creative’s Chief of Party for the Afghan Children Read project, Mamdouh Fadil; USAID Contracting Officer, Alim Ghafary; and Afghanistan Ministry of Education representative, Attaullah Wahidyar, will present on the CIES conference panel: “Four Sides of the Same Coin: Facets of Early Grade Reading Material Development and Delivery in Afghanistan.” It is scheduled for March 27 from 6:45 to p.m.

The USAID-funded Afghan Children Read project works to ensure quality education service delivery through an evidence-based early grade reading program in four provinces throughout Afghanistan.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the multilingual education project has distributed more than 314,070 teaching and learning materials in Pashto and Dari languages, providing some 188,500 early grade students in Afghanistan the opportunity to improve their reading skills.

Improving education in complex environments   

Along with highlighting a multilingual education approach, Creative’s education experts will share lessons learned in delivering basic education to conflict-affected countries.

More than 30 percent of school-aged children in northern Nigeria do not have access to basic education. This is attributed to a combination of factors, including cultural attitudes, lack of educational facilities and insecurity as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Education plays a vital role in rebuilding conflict and crisis-affected communities in Nigeria and preparing students for a peaceful and successful future.

USAID’s Northern Education Initiative Plus project aims to address these challenges by improving access and quality of education for more than 2 million school-aged children and youth in two northern state: Bauchi and Sokoto.

Creative’s Senior Reading Specialist, Joy du Plessis, will join five Creative colleagues and USAID representatives on the panel called “Pre-service, In-Service, and Policy Reform: A Three-legged Stool for Improved and Sustained Early Grade Reading Outcomes.” The panel will examine case studies from the Northern Education Initiative Plus project. It is scheduled for March 27 from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m.

Joining du Plessis on the panel will be Creative staff:  Northern Education Initiative Plus Chief of Party, James Statman; Director of Reading Campaigns in Federal Ministry of Education, Chinyere Nwokerie; Education Policy Expert, Garba Ibrahim, Ph.D.; Academic Expert in National Commission for Colleges of Education, Abdul Otunuyi, Ph.D.; Education Expert Nura Ibrahim.

USAID’s Senior Education Advisor, Sandy Olesky-Ojikutu, and Education Program Manager, Wale Samuel, and, Adrienne Barnes, Ph.D., Reading and Literary Specialist with Florida State University, will also join the education policy panel.

The panel will take a closer look at early grade education policy reform and how to work closely with government partners to close the learning gap in complex environments.

In an effort to shares lessons learned and continue to improve the delivery of education in conflict settings, Creative’s Education Technical Manager, Jake Thomsen, and Business Development and Operations Associate, Ayo Oladini, with join the panel: “A Non-Formal Education Model and Approach for Community-Based Education in Northeast Nigeria; Replicability of the Nigeria Education Crisis Response model, and lessons learned during implementation.”

Creative’s Jake Thomsen reflects on Nigeria Education Crisis Response’s unique and collaborative approach to delivering quality education to vulnerable students.

“The project was deeply embedded in communities,” says Thomsen. “We forged close partnerships with local civil society organizations and traditional and religious leaders to mobilize to communities in support of alternative education opportunities.”

Thomsen says Nigeria Education Crisis Response also emphasized Social Emotional Learning, in addition to literacy and numeracy. This approach to learning in the classroom “increased learners’ resiliency and wellbeing,” he says.

USAID’s Director of Education in Nigeria, Croshelle Harris-Hussein, will chair the panel discussion on implementing an education project in conflict-affected countries. Rena Deitz, Senior Education Specialist at International Rescue Committee, will also join the conversation with USAID and Creative. It is scheduled for March 28 from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

In three years, the USAID-supported Education Crisis Response project provided more than 80,000 displaced or out-of-school children and youth with basic literacy and numeracy skills and psychosocial support in safe and supportive environments, called non-formal learning centers.

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