RELI Africa at CIES 2023

By Njuhi Chege

RELI Africa is delighted to be participating in big numbers at this year’s CIES in Washington DC. Various RELI members will be hosting panels and presenting papers, both online and in-person. Their presentations will focus on contexualised innovations, policies, research and pedagogical approaches that can make education more equitable for all children. RELI Africa will also have a booth at the physical CIES conference where you can engage with us and learn more about our peer learning initiative that works to develop partnerships and enhance collaborations that will bring us closer to achieving equitable education in East Africa and beyond. Below is a detailed outline of the papers and panels we will be hosting at CIES.

Across the continent the population of young people is increasing at a rate never experienced before. Now, more than ever before, institutions and governments across Africa must provide these young people with the resources to learn and acquire skills and values that can equip them to secure better futures for themselves and their communities.

The Comparative and International Education Society conference (CIES) 2023 theme is “Improving Education for a more equitable world”, yet in the wake of the pandemic, education has only become more inaccessible. As we write, even more children have been unable to attend school making them more vulnerable to early marriage, child labour, and violence. As a result of the perennial underfunding of education across the East African region, teachers are not adequately prepared to deliver quality and meaningful education and local and national governments struggle to implement important education policies.

These are the conditions that situate The Regional Education Learning Initiative Africa (RELI AFRICA) as a necessary intervention. RELI Africa is a peer learning initiative and policy influencing network comprised of over 70 organisations in East Africa. We are committed to ensuring that all children across the region – regardless of gender, regional or ethnic origin or socioeconomic background – have access to a quality education.  To reach this goal, we leverage local knowledge and expertise to influence education policy and practice.

Through our work we have learned that universal access to education continues to be hampered by numerous yet similar cultural, social and economic factors. We have also learned that the most effective ideas to improve access to education come from collaboration and learning exchanges between key education actors at local, regional and global levels.

A student interacting with a teacher.

RELI Africa still has so much more to learn and to share about education policies, research and pedagogical approaches that can make education more equitable and that is why we will be  participating at the 2023 CIES conference. We want to be part of this innovative community that will carefully reexamine the social and economic inequities that limit access to education around the world. We want to deepen our understanding of the tools and approaches we can adopt to effectively address these challenges.

CIES 2023 is scheduled to run between February 14 and 22, 2023, in Washington DC. Members of RELI AFRICA will participate in the conference in different capacities including as panelists, panel chairs and audience members, both virtually and in person. See below the participation schedule.

During the panels and learning sessions, a diverse array of actors from around the world will analyze educational issues involving pupils, teachers, and administrators — from pre-school all the way to higher education and vocational training. Some panelists will analyse how disparities in socioeconomic status, culture, gender, ethnicity and language shape academic attainment. Others will focus on the connections between education, political strife, conflict, globalisation, democratisation, and economic progress. These diverse sets of focus areas will generate rich conversation and innovation.

We know that to address these intersecting crises we need to learn and develop new research partnerships, more relationships with potential funders and establish learning exchanges on effective pedagogical and policy approaches with actors from around the world. CIES 2023 is the right forum to begin these conversations.

Over the next few weeks RELI Africa will share more information about the panelists that will be representing the network at CIES 2023, insights from the conference sessions we will attend and participate in and reflections on the progress RELI Africa has made over the last five years. We hope you will engage with us online and/or in-person during and after CIES 2023, so that together we can develop partnerships and collaborations that will bring us closer to achieving equitable education in East Africa and beyond.

We look forward to engaging with you all,

RELI Africa Secretariat



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