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Supporting disadvantaged and marginalised learners across the globe

Supporting disadvantaged and marginalised learners across the globe

Published: 07 Feb 2024

Alison Mead Richardson

I still have great memories of my foundational studies at Brunel and the professors and students alike

Alison, Undergraduate, Alumni

Education Development Adviser, AMR IDEA (International Development Education Associates)

Sociology BSc - 1981

From UK

Career journey

Dr Alison Mead Richardson is an Education Development Adviser who has been supporting access and quality improvement through technology in 35 countries focusing on disadvantaged and marginalised learners. Through her work with formal and nonformal education partners in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, thousands of people have gained access to new quality learning opportunities. In particular, through her work in gender mainstreaming in technical and vocational colleges, the voices of women and girls are increasingly being heard in partner colleges across continents. 

Alison still has great memories of her foundational studies at Brunel and the professors and students alike and was named as a finalist for the 2020 Brunel Alumni of the Year Award. Living in Africa for 13 years gave a unique perspective that enabled her to support teacher development across schools, colleges and universities. In particular, in 5 years of living and working in Rwanda, she led the development of a teacher upgrading programme to provide qualified teachers for a country ravaged by genocide. 

Upskilling communities

From 2009 to 2018, Alison was the Education Specialist responsible for the Skills Development programme at the Commonwealth of Learning; an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote the development and sharing of open learning knowledge, resources and technologies.

Alison has provided support to teachers, educational managers and Ministry officials in 35 countries. She led the INVEST Africa partnership of 90+ TVET institutions and Authorities in 8 African countries (Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, The Gambia) to integrate technology to improve access, quality and efficiency in TVET. She worked with government Ministries and apex bodies to develop national strategy and policy. Impact studies demonstrated 19% increase in empowerment of trainees in Kenya.

Alison worked with the Caribbean Association of National Training Authorities (CANTA) to improve quality and expand access to the Caribbean Vocational Qualification. She developed online assessor training as OER and built capacity of NTAs to deliver quality online assessor training. She supported National Centre for Persons with Disabilities in Trinidad & Tobago to develop blended online learning in skills training using mobile training units.

Through her mentoring, Dhaka Ahsania Mission in Bangladesh developed inclusive livelihoods skills training programmes for neo-literates. Nearly 6,000 people trained (72% women) and over 60% started income-generating activities. In India, the State Resource Centre in Kerala developed and delivered a new programme for training community development workers and 5 additional programmes; 2,600 people were trained (57% women). 

Alison has provided capacity building for TVET educators across the Pacific through regional TVET workshops and new courses were developed in Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Nauru, Solomon Islands and PNG. She has worked with the Department of Education to develop the Tuvalu TVSD programme to increase access in outer islands. She also supported the delivery of skills training for construction workers in Nauru and supported METI NGO in Samoa to develop OER for community life skills training and +600 people developed sustainable livelihoods.

In addition

Alison is an advocate for open access to publicly funded research and resources. She is a member of the Creative Commons Global Network and a Creative Commons Certified Educator. She was awarded Judge Advisor for the Technovation Girls Challenge in 2019 and has been called on by UNESCO to present at conferences on Sustainable Development Goals and Greening TVET.

Alison now runs her own international development agency based in Vancouver, Canada but continues to work in developing countries.