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De/reconstructing education as a space for transformative belonging and agency

Research and policy symposium on gender equality in and through education

To develop the holistic skills young people need to thrive in life, work, and citizenship in the 21st century, education must provide students a sense of stability, belonging, and connection with their peers and community that allows them to individually and collectively identify and voice their hopes, make decisions, and take action to fully shape their own lives and the lives of their communities. Unfortunately, these fundamental education needs are often not met due to systemic factors—both within and outside of the education sector—that exclude millions of young people, especially girls, young women, and gender non-conforming people.

On December 5, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) will open the research and policy symposium on gender equality in and through education with the plenary discussion among the Echidna Global Scholars that will look at how to de/reconstruct education systems, schools, and other learning contexts into spaces of transformative belonging and agency. Speaking across their research on forcibly displaced girls in the Sahel, young children not reached by school in rural Pakistan, girls and young women left out of digital technology education and careers in Kenya, and adolescent girls (and their teachers) struggling in isolation with the effects of poverty and gender inequities in Nepal, the scholars will unpack the ways in which policies and practices currently limit belonging and inclusion in places of learning and share what they have learned about co-constructing more just and gender-transformative policy solutions.

Viewers can submit questions via email to or via Twitter at #EchidnaScholars.


For those interested in delving deeper into the scholars’ individual research, CUE encourages registration for virtual workshop discussions from December 5 to December 7 at the below times:

Learning on the move: Why so few forcibly displaced children continue schooling in the Sahel and what we can do about it (with Halimatou Hima)

  • WHEN: Monday, December 5, 10:30 am – 12pm ET | 4- 5:30 pm WAT
  • DESCRIPTION: As the impact of conflict on education intensifies globally, the call of the landmark 1996 Graça Machel report to maintain schooling as a matter of urgency in conflict remains unfulfilled. Children who are forcibly displaced are often forgotten and invisible, and their educational needs are left at the margin. How can governments in the Sahel and development actors ensure the continuity of learning for the growing population of forcibly displaced children? How can key actors better respond to the educational needs of children affected by armed conflict and insecurity—particularly those of girls—and address the drivers of inequality in education in such contexts?


Why emotions matter: Promoting female teachers and gender-transformative social emotional learning in Nepal (with Bhawana Shrestha)

  • WHEN: Tuesday, December 6, 8 – 9:30 am ET | 6:15 – 8:15 am Kathmandu
  • DESCRIPTION: More than 80 percent of adolescent girls who leave school in Nepal report doing so because of the emotional strain of living at the intersection of poverty and gendered social norms. Female teachers have a critical role to play in gender-transformative social-emotional learning (SEL) that could support adolescent girls navigating inequities in their communities, yet for years Nepali teachers have reported a lack of SEL skills and preparation needed to play this role for their students. As the Nepali government seeks to prioritize both gender equity and SEL, how can policy and practice better support female teachers to promote adolescent girls’ transformative SEL needs?


Bridging the gender divide in digital technology careers in Kenya (with Anthony [Tony] Luvanda)

  • WHEN: Tuesday, December 6, 10 – 11:30 am ET | 6 – 7:30 pm EAT
  • DESCRIPTION: The digital economy opens opportunities to new and lucrative careers in Kenya and across the globe while at the same time eliminating a sizable number of administrative, clerical, and non-skilled jobs—with women most affected. In Kenya, the rate of women graduating university with an information and communications technology (ICT) degree is disproportionately low, thus resulting in an underrepresentation of women in digital careers. How can Kenya create a holistic education policy response that would help mitigate the cumulative disadvantages that exclude girls and young women from digital technology-related courses?


Policy design to support meaningful learning experiences and aspirations for underserved children in rural Pakistan (with Hina Saleem)

  • WHEN: Wednesday, December 7, 8:30 – 10 am ET | 6:30 – 8 pm PKT
  • DESCRIPTION: Children’s education needs, particularly those of girls from rural Sindh, Pakistan, have largely gone underserved— both inside and outside of classrooms—perpetuating existing social inequalities. How are current education systems failing to attend to the lived realities and education needs of children and families in rural areas? And how can policymakers address exclusion in schools, design more meaningful learning experiences, and create space for all children to meet their aspirations?



Panel Discussion

Halimatou Hima

2022 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution

Senior Fragility Specialist, FCV Country Coordinator, Coastal West Africa - World Bank

Anthony Luvanda

2022 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution

Co-Founder & Executive Director - Magharibi Innovation Hub

Senior Lecturer, Information Technology department, Defence Forces Technical College - National Defence University-Kenya

Hina Saleem

2022 Echidna Global Scholar - Brookings Institution

Advisor, Literacy and Life Skills Program - The Citizens Foundation

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