CREATE at the Joint RPC dissemination Conference at the Institute of Education in London, 15th November 2010

CREATE Team of Researchers

CREATE is coming to the end of its five year term in May 2011. To disseminate some of the findings of CREATE research a conference was hosted by the UK Forum for International Education and Training (UKFIET) and DFID at the Institute of Education in London on the 15th of November. The event was held in collaboration with the two other DFID funded education Research Programme Consortia (RPCs): Implementing Education Quality in Low Income Countries (EdQual) from the University of Bristol, and Research Consortium on Educational Outcomes and Poverty (RECOUP) from the University of Cambridge.

In the opening session Professor Angela Little welcomed the audience of academics, development professionals and students to the conference. Jo Bourne, of DFID, labelled poor educational outcomes as a “scandal” and spoke of the need for more research on education because it remains underrepresented when compared to other development sectors, including agriculture and health. Professor Chris Whitty, DFID’s chief scientific advisor gave an insightful opening speech.

Next the directors of the three consortia gave presentations summarising the approach and work of their programmes of research. Professor Keith Lewin, delivered a salutary warning about the drawbacks of concentrating solely on enrolment. He said the expansion of school places has, sometimes, been accompanied by the falling quality of education and lack of equity. Lewin also emphasised that the majority of today’s out-of-school children used to attend school but dropped out, rather than never having been enrolled. He predicted that the Millennium Development Goal – universal primary education – will not be met by 2015 because the education sector has failed to prevent the next generation of dropouts. The number of children not learning – the “silently excluded” – is actually far higher than the UN’s estimate of 70 million children not enrolled in school.

The conference split into three parallel sessions around each consortium. In the CREATE session, each of the four country teams gave presentations summarising the range of work and some of the key findings in each country. Professor Govinda from the National University of Educational Planning and Administration in India presented the results of research in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, studies which return to the same places where he and his colleagues conducted research twenty years ago. He summarised the progress and challenges that remain for education for all in the two states.

In his talk, Dr. Manzoor Ahmed of the Institute of Educational Development at BRAC University in Bangladesh described some of the characteristics of exclusion from education in Bangladesh, and the groups most likely to be excluded. He urged his government and development partners to bear messages from research such as CREATE’s in mind when making plans for the next five year education policy in Bangladesh.

Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana presented alongside Dr. Kwame Akyeampong from the University of Sussex about access to education in Ghana. Among other findings from Ghana, Professor Ampiah highlighted the prevalence of problems of over age children in Ghanaian schools.

Dr. Shireen Motala from the University of Johannesburg gave a presentation about CREATE work in South Africa. Her presentation touched on issues of age in grade and explained the redistributive quintile system of education financing in South Africa.

During lunch there were PHD poster presentations, Luke Akaguri, Eric Ananga and Stuart Cameron presented their work. After lunch CREATE researchers participated in thematic sessions on poverty: education poverty and practice, exclusions from education, partnerships for development and capacity building. In each session researchers from EdQual and RECOUP also presented work relating to the theme of the session.

Professor Angela Little presented her work on policy, poverty and political will in the poverty session. Among other work, her presentation drew on her CREATE pathways to access monographs about the political histories of education for all in India, Ghana and Sri Lanka. The session on exclusions was chaired by Dr. Mairead Dunne from the University of Sussex and featured presentations from Dr. Ricardo Sabates about his work on changing patterns of access in sub-Saharan Africa and Caine Rolleston on his analysis of the CREATE data from Ghana and the Ghana Living Standards Survey.

In the session on partnerships for development, Professor Lewin and Tony Somerset focused on the role and limitations of public-private partnerships for development. Tony Somerset drew upon many years of work in Kenya and two CREATE monographs about changing patterns of access in the country. Lewin presented research from two CREATE monographs on public private partnerships as well as CREATE research by other researchers.

Dr. Akyeampong, Dr. Madhumita Bandyopadhay and Dr. Benjamin Zeitlyn attended a discussion session on capacity building, which generated interesting discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of the RPC model and the nature of collaborative research consortia. Dr. Bandyopadhay presented the capacity building activities of NUEPA who are using the CREATE data and conceptual model as material for new doctoral students. Dr Akyeampong brought a unique perspective to the discussion, having been a member of staff both in a Ghanaian University in partnership with British universities and at Sussex during CREATE’s involvement with the Universities of Cape Coast and Winneba in Ghana.

In a final plenary panel discussion given the unenviable task of attempting to summarise the day’s proceedings, Professor Krishna Kumar, of Delhi University, described teacher training as an “invisible” element, which needs to be prioritised. He said: “Poor quality training does not stimulate critical thinking. Teacher training cannot wait.” Kumar also called for education to be tailored to the evolving markets in developing countries so students are better suited to work opportunities.
Professor Jangmah of the University of Winneba in Ghana, stressed the links between the three RPCs, saying that problems of access and quality have to be addressed “hand in hand”. The required rigour and relevance of education research generated considerable discussion. Bourne commented on the overall lack of evidence and asked for better measurement of educational outcomes, especially in the early years of schooling. She said more investment is needed in metrics and spoke of DFID’s focus on results.

The CREATE team would like to thank the conference organisers, all the participants and DFID for their support for CREATE’s work and enthusiasm for more research.

Powerpoint presentations and photos:

More photos:

Professor Keith Lewin, University of Sussex, UK

Dr Kwame Akyeampong, University of Sussex, UK, Dr Shireen Motala, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, University of Cape Coast, Ghana and Professor Keith Lewin, University of Sussex, UK

Professor R. Govinda, NUEPA, Delhi, India

Dr Manzoor Ahmed, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dr Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, University of Cape Coast, Ghana