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Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), UCL Institute of Education


A forum for staff, students, alumni and guests to write about and around CEID's five thematic areas of engagement.


Education in the Time of COVID-19 #046 – Duraiappah

By CEID Blogger, on 4 March 2021

COVID-19: Will it be a game changer for Education?

By Dr. Anantha K. Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP 

The first pandemic of the 21st century practically crippled the world, bringing it to a complete standstill. It is not the disease itself that caused the shutdown but the policies implemented to curb the spread of the disease. Travel, trade, manufacturing and service sectors were all shutdown. Lockdowns, confinements and social distancing practically made our present economic and social systems inoperable. The education sector was not spared either. UNESCO estimates that about 1.2 billion students from over 140 countries as of March 2020 were out of school. The situation has not really improved since then about 12 months later.

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Education in the Time of COVID-19 #045 – Unterhalter

By CEID Blogger, on 10 February 2021

Covid-19’s impact on girls’ access to education

By Elaine Unterhalter

Over the past decades, girls’ education has been claimed as a universal solution to every problem: population growth, climate crisis, ending conflict or economic growth. It is said If you educate a girl, you educate the nation or the planet. Then Covid-19 happened.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #005 – Hajir, Kurian & McInerney

By ztnvcnu, on 8 February 2021

Decolonial work: Moving Beyond Simplistic Approaches to ‘alternative knowledges’

by Basma Hajir, Nomisha Kurian and William McInerney, University of Cambridge

The pervasive, systemic, and fortified configurations of coloniality within contemporary education contexts necessitates that decolonial resistance remains a deeply challenging practice. As a result, we believe it is important to acknowledge and unpack the many ways engaging in decolonization work can be complex, nuanced, and possibly even counterproductive if done uncritically. Specifically, we are concerned about the ways some decolonial work engages in overly-simplistic approaches to ‘alternative knowledges’ in resistance to colonized curricula and pedagogy. We fear uncritical work here, even that which is well-intentioned, can produce a dangerous context for binary thinking and cultural essentialism that might ultimately reinforce colonialism in education rather than deconstruct it. To unpack this challenge, we discuss three problematic aspects that we see emanating from uncritical glorification of alternative knowledges. 

Uncritical Glorification: Erasure, Relativism, and Difference  

First, uncritical glorification of alternative knowledges can unintentionally contribute to erasing history. For example, prompted by a desire to unpack western domination in education, to remain attentive to the limitations of grand narratives, and to point out what has been silenced, some postcolonial and decolonial scholars engage in critiquing the pre-eminence of what they refer to as ‘western metaphysics’, ‘western modernity’ or ‘western rationality’. We applaud their efforts and we wholeheartedly agree with the premise of their pursuit. Ultimately, interrogating western domination as a symptom of the alliance between power and knowledge is the core of decolonial work. 

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #004 – Unterhalter

By utnvmab, on 11 January 2021

Sol Plaatje and UCL

by Elaine Unterhalter 

Sol Plaatje’s name is probably unknown to all but a handful of people at UCL. Yet his scholarship in his lifetime,  was partly linked with UCL,  and his scholarly legacy is highly significant for thinking about education and international development as a field  of inquiry.

Solomon Tshekisho  Plaatje (1876-1932) was a South African whose whole life was an engagement with different aspects of education and  a negotiation with what we call today international development, but what was, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, framed by Empire and colonial relationships . Sol Plaatje was born in 1876 in what is today the Free State province of South Africa. Educated by German missionaries he was fluent in Setswana, English,  Dutch, and four other languages. He worked as a teacher, a telegraph messenger, a clerk, a court interpreter, a journalist, newspaper owner, editor,  a translator,  a  researcher, a political organiser and  lobbyist, a negotiator, an actor, a singer, a novelist and an academic researcher. His life story brims with so many  incidents, and highlights so many different kinds of educational relationships in South Africa, England and the USA, that it is a clear education and international development can never be only about one kind of formation of human capital, a single kind of accumulation of social capital or a one-dimensional form of subordination to colonial rule.

Plaatje was  immersed in, but always critically engaged with,  colonial cultures. His dialogues, disputes, and demands came through his religion, his education, his  nuanced responses, for example with translating and performing Shakespeare, or writing political commentaries to be read by colonial rulers and their critics. But, for all his dress and bearing in the style of a Victorian and Edwardian gentleman,  he was also, keenly aware of the dispossessions colonial relations brought – the denial of the vote to the majority of people in South Africa,  the dispossession of land rights that had been established under Colonial law, and the ways in which the experience of colonial subjects, viewed primarily in terms of their  race,  were overlooked in what was documented and published about South Africa. He wrote about much of this in his widely circulated book Native Life in South Africa , published in 1916, which generated much discussion when it first came out and continues to excite debate. He was a founding member of the SANNC (South African Native National Congress), which became  the ANC. His contribution to literature, art and politics has now been acknowledged in South Africa and beyond.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #003 – Ejegi & Torbayeva

By utnvmab, on 3 December 2020

‘Can the subaltern speak?’

Decolonising Education and International Development Event launched by staff and students at UCL’s Centre for Education and International Development (CEID) 

by Shola Ejegi & Albina Tortbayeva

Dr Laila Kadiwal from CEID opened the event with this famous postcolonial question ‘Can the subaltern speak?’. In answer, she shared the words of her Dalit academic-activist friend, Mahitosh, who is the first Dalit lecturer/professor of English literature in India, who responded: ‘They can, but their voice remains under represented even in the Subaltern Studies literature’. Laila also told us that she grew up in a rural conflict-affected periphery of postcolonial India. Albina remembers her words that were powerful for her in both their openness and boldness: “I’m here because the East India Company and the Queen Victoria were there.  Of course, my class privileges also made it possible for me to be here”. In this very statement, she highlighted the continuing colonial legacies in the present through the university setting, and its intersections with issues of class.  Coloniality continues to echo in our society, and particularly in the education field which needs to work to transform and not to reproduce social inequalities.

Stories both personal and impressive came from other participants too –  professors, students and activists interested in researching the colonial entanglements underpinning the field of education and development joined this online event from a range of global locations. Professors Elaine Unterhalter and Moses Oketch – co-directors of the Centre for Education and International Development at UCL – shared their perspectives on the significance of decolonising the field of education and even the centre itself, inviting us on a brave journey to start questioning and naming colonial logics and uneven power dynamics in the field. We particularly felt brave being a part of the discussion cafe as it is a direct rejection of the ‘status quo.’ It felt eye opening to intentionally explore the meanings and history of discourses and practices that have been deemed universal, which are in fact are a reflection of Eurocentric norms at the expense of the voice and cultures of former colonised populations.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #001- Unterhalter & Oketch

By utnvmab, on 12 November 2020

Alternative Histories of Education and International Development: An Invitation 

by Elaine Unterhalter and Moses Oketch 

Like many who work in international development, we are acutely aware of the ways in which this field of policy, research and practice links with a colonial past which continues to resonate in the present. In CEID (Centre for Education and International Development) this is a history we feel we need to understand and critique, in order to support thinking better about education and a future which overturns colonial relationships of hierarchy, dispossession, exclusion and subordination.

The early links with colonialism at the Institution of Education (IoE) are clear and this is a history we need to acknowledge in order to think how to change our current forms of practice. IoE was initially founded in 1902 as the London Day Training College for teachers. In 1927 the Director accepted appointment to a body with clear links with a number of colonial projects, the British Advisory Committee on Native Education in Tropical Africa. As part of the work for this committee, he was invited by the Colonial Office to establish a course at IoE to prepare students for work as education officers in Africa, and to support missionaries preparing to work in teacher training colleges in what was then Tanganyika (now Tanzania). A Colonial Department was established at IoE in 1934, with a lecturer appointed to specialize in the comparative education of ‘primitive peoples’. Thus institutionally the teaching and research of IoE were clearly bound in with colonial education projects. In the 1950s there was a change of name, when the Colonial Department at IoE became the Department of Education in Tropical Areas (ETA). Only in 1973 was some distance from colonialism signaled in a new name, the Department of Education in Developing Countries (EDC). In 1995 this became the Department of Education and International Development (EID).

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Constructing a Decolonial Space #002- Kadiwal, et al.

By utnvmab, on 12 November 2020

Constructing a Decolonial Space

by Laila Kadiwal, Mai Abu Moghli, Colleen Howell, Charlotte Nussey and Lynsey Robinson

In this post, we lay out our emerging thoughts on how a decolonial space looks, sounds or feels to us. The aim of the initiative, ‘Alternative Histories of Education and International Development’, is, as our co-directors explain, ‘to support thinking better about education and a future which overturns colonial relationships of hierarchy, dispossession, exclusion and subordination’ (Unterhalter & Oketch). Doing so requires asking ourselves challenging questions about our work and position within the academy, as well as about how to ensure this initiative contributes to deepening decolonial thinking and practices that reflect it. Read the rest of this entry »

Future directions for Myanmar – The 2020 elections

By CEID Blogger, on 10 November 2020

by Marie Lall

8th November 2020 was a historic date for Myanmar. The NLD win was never much in doubt, not least because the only real alternative amongst the 92 contesting parties is the USDP, the party that is home to the former military generals who used to rule the country. The day is historic, not because the NLD won but because by power remaining in NLD hands, Myanmar is a step closer to embedding its participatory system, and taking a step further away from military rule. The military remains part of politics, but it no longer calls the shots.

In light of this historic achievement, it is paramount to remember that Myanmar has challenges and that many citizens, despite their support of the NLD, are deeply disillusioned with how the NLD has managed key issues over the past five years. Given the lack of success in making major changes, it is important to review what remains in effect a laundry list to be tackled between now and 2025.

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Education in the Time of COVID-19 #044 – Parkes & Datzberger

By CEID Blogger, on 20 October 2020

Uganda: lockdown brought increased inequality and violence for young people

By Jenny Parkes and Simone Datzberger

Young people the world all over have been deeply affected by lockdown measures due to COVID-19. Our new study on Young people, inequality and violence during the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda offers insights from young people on how and why the pandemic may be amplifying inequalities, thereby creating the conditions for multiple forms of violence.

In March 2020, the Ugandan government introduced stringent lockdown measures – closing schools and businesses, banning public gatherings, restricting travel, and introducing a night-time curfew. Against this backdrop we wanted to learn from young people first-hand how response measures during the early stages of the pandemic have affected their lives. Thanks to strong local partnerships and a well-established collaboration with Ugandan researchers, we were able to conduct phone interviews from May-June 2020 with 18 girls and 16 boys (aged 16-19 years) at a time when lockdown measures were still in place. All of our interviewees are participants in  longitudinal research (2017-2022) for the Contexts of Violence in Adolescence Cohort study (CoVAC). This allowed us to relate findings from our phone interviews to their biographical narratives recounted to our researchers over the past two years.

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Education in the Time of COVID-19 #043 – Datzberger, et al.

By CEID Blogger, on 14 October 2020

Field Research during COVID-19

By Simone Datzberger, Jenny Parkes, Marie Lall, Kusha Anand, Mai Abu Moghli, Tejendra Pherali & Laila Kadiwal

Central to our research in the field of Education and International Development are international collaborations, global and local partnerships and knowledge exchange across borders and continents. COVID-19 has had not only profound impacts on education but also on how we continue with our research and data collection in diverse settings and contexts. Researchers are no longer able to meet face-to-face, are required to follow strict rules, and new ethics protocols and procedures have had to be developed to ensure safety for all. In short, data collection has been severely impacted by the pandemic. While some projects have been put on hold, or data collection postponed, others have managed to continue with their work and find new and creative solutions to adapt their projects and means of data collection to a new Covid-19 reality. Below we share our experiences.

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