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Diversity, Equity and Education Collective

Diversity, Equity and Education Collective (DeCol) is a network of international scholars, mostly doctoral, postdoctoral and early career researchers working on issues of education and development, launched as part of the Rural Youth Identities in India research project and hosted by the Interculturality for Diversity and Global Learning research group at the Department of Education. 

DeCol aims to expand research and practice in education and beyond by inclusion of multi-disciplinary perspectives, creative approaches, and contextualised understandings of multiple lived realities and experiences in diverse international contexts. 

DeCol will run an open research seminar series, 'Education, the global South, and Beyond', Thursdays lunchtime, 1 to 2 pm, in the Zoom meeting room. This series aims to create an interactive space for postgraduate students, doctoral and early career researchers, scholars, research practitioners and faculty to meet in a relaxed, supportive and collaborative environment to discuss topics of international education, development and related issues. 

The seminars have a speaker presenting for 20-25 minutes on research in the field or on a topic of interest to the Collective, with discussion afterwards for 30 minutes.

Everyone warmly welcome!

‘Powerless, Poor and Needy?’: the reproduction of colonial discourse of gender through educational interventions by I-NGOs in Afghanistan; Thursday 22nd April 

Sulaiman Haqpana, Doctoral researcher, Brunel University London

The discourses of gender and women empowerment in the global-south have often been politicised and instrumentalised by the narratives of the universalist feminism of the global-north. While the (re)production of such colonial agendas do not support women empowerment and gender equality in the global-south, it (re)produces a stereotypical image of the southern women as ‘oppressed, needy and vulnerable’. Through a qualitative desk-study and documentary-analysis, this talk explores the cases of two I-NGOs, Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan (CW4WA) and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), to suggest a bottom-up approach by considering local contexts and gender relations and by involving Afghan women at the policy levels. Such an approach, the paper argues, may ultimately enable I-NGOs to reach their intrinsic goals and objectives related to women’s empowerment and development through educational interventions.

Sulaiman Haqpana is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Education at Brunel University. His research aims to explore the distinctive religious nature of Islamic private schools in the United Kingdom. Sulaiman has a BA in Global politics and International Relations from Birkbeck University and MSc in Social policy and Development from LSE. He is the winner of LSE's Richard Titmuss Award for outstanding dissertation. Sulaiman has 7 years of professional experience working for United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and International rescue committee (IRC). His research areas include Faith/religion and schools, commercialisation of education, politicisation of educational interventions, gender and education, and social policy.

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Exploring identity, gender and empowerment of an under-represented group: British Arab and North African Muslim girls; Thursday 29th April 

Najwa Iggoute, Doctoral Researcher, Brunel University London 

The aim of the seminar is to shed light on a particularly under-represented group: Arab and North African Muslim girls. Most of the existing research conducted on Muslim girls in British schools included participants mainly from South Asia, ignoring the fact that Muslims are not a homogenous group. The seminar will introduce the various topics which will be explored in this research, such as multiple identities, gender, the understanding of empowerment from a lens other than a Eurocentric lens. The research will aim to capture the narratives and experiences of Arab and North African Muslim girls, at a secondary school in South West London, with high percentage of Muslim girls from the MENA region. A big part of the seminar will explore the experiences of the researcher and the challenges faced at an early stage of the research whilst navigating her own multiple identities. 

The research aims to promote a change in discourse in terms of identity, gender, and empowerment due to an expected shift in attitudes and experiences following multiple events that occurred in the MENA region or indeed, in the UK. The findings of this research will be a welcomed addition to the existing body of knowledge on Muslim female empowerment and femininity.  

Najwa Iggoute is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Education at Brunel University. She is currently researching multiple identities, agency and empowerment of British Arab and North African Muslim girls. Najwa has a BSc in Psychology from University of Westminster and MSc in Organisational Psychology from City University. Najwa trained as a Modern Foreign Languages teacher at Goldsmith University in 2007, and has been teaching at a girls’ secondary school in South West London ever since. Najwa is passionate about women’s rights, gender equality and the various forms and interpretations of feminism.

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Literacy for life and work: exploring an Indigenous language literacy programme in Mexico; Thursday 6th May

Lorena Sanchez Tyson, Doctoral Researcher, University College London Institute of Education

This presentation draws from the theoretical domain of literacy as a social practice (LSP) to explore the role and meaning of literacy within the context of the Bilingual Indigenous Education Model for Life and Work (MIB) programme for adults in Mexico. Using a qualitative and multi-sited ethnographic approach, field research was conducted in three Mexican states and across twelve distinct Indigenous communities. This study aimed to uncover what ways and for what purposes learners and facilitators engage with the MIB program and how literacy influences and affects the lives and livelihoods of the participants. The presentation will explore the multivalent meanings, values, and uses attached to literacies from the varied perspectives of key stakeholders and argue that the ways in which literacy practices are produced and enacted are strongly linked to and framed by broader historical and socio-political contexts and discourses. Findings suggest that while the MIB endorses a rights-based approach to literacy and provides opportunities to develop both literacies and social support, it does not sufficiently challenge the intersecting systems of power that continue to exclude and marginalise Indigenous discourses and identities within educational spheres, particularly with regards to issues of gender, race, language, age, and socioeconomic status. 

Lorena Sanchez Tyson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education, Practice and Society at UCL IOE. She holds a BA in English from the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas (Mexico), and an MA in Lifelong Learning: Policy and Management (UK). Her research focuses on adult literacy in multilingual and multicultural contexts; other interests include literacy, lifelong learning, unschooling, alternative learning, and Indigenous and intercultural education.

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Meeting ID: 979 3075 5510

Passcode: 1414785628


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Inclusion and exclusion in local governance: a post-development and spatial perspective on a field study from Benin;  Thursday 13th May 

Dr Eva Bulgrin, Postdoctoral researcher, Germany (previously at Centre for International Education, University of Sussex) 

This presentation draws on a qualitatively oriented in-depth policy study (Ball, 1993, 2015; Rizvi and Lingard, 2010) to explore the discursive and social practices of the actors involved in the provision of pre- and primary education to enact the 2010 decentralisation policy in Benin (West Africa). The study adopts a post-development framework (Escobar, 2012; Ziai, 2017) in combination with a spatial lens (Massey, 1994; 2005) to critique the very idea of 'development' and to emphasise the significance of space, time and place in the process of educational inclusion and exclusion. More specifically, it traces how actors in two localities in the South-East and North-East in the post-colonial setting of Benin interact, exploring how the local and the global intersect in policy implementation. In so doing, it throws into sharp relief the multiple complexities of local practices, and how they impact on the processes of exclusion/inclusion and how this affects the achievement of equity and decolonisation.

Eva Bulgrin completed her PhD at the Centre of International Education of the University of Sussex. Her doctoral research explored the discursive and social practices of actors in Benin involved in the provision of pre- and primary education in the context of the decentralisation policy 2010. Her research interests include theories and concepts of education; quality, equity & inclusion; governance, globalization, democracy & power; and different approaches to teaching and learning. Eva is interested in using creative and visual strategies to 'produce', analyse, and write-up data, and engage in dialogue with different theoretical paradigms. She has worked as an advisor in education & development in Global South contexts, notably West Africa and South Caucasus. 



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Conceptualizing Adivasi Munda Women Resistance in the Neoliberal State of Jharkhand, India; Thursday 20th May 

Dr Pallavi Raonka, Adjunct Teaching Faculty, Virgina Tech and Roanoke College, USA

This presentation addresses a paradox pointed out by Indian feminist scholars: Adivasi (indigenous) women are at the forefront of indigenous movements defending traditional lands from outside forces, but they also often support existing landholding regimes that prevent women from inheriting the land. Much of the scholarship looking at land rights of Adivasi women is embedded in western feminist epistemologies and assumes a conflict, in which the ethnic/Adivasi identity overrides gender identity. Yet this ignores how Adivasi women continually mediate this supposed divide in their everyday life practices. This paper provides an ethnographic examination how Munda women in Jharkhand understand and experience this situation, focusing on how the meaning of land and forest, customary forms of women’s land and forest use, and everyday practices in the kitchen and field shape their epistemologies and politics. I demonstrate that the Munda woman’s understanding of feminist practice is embedded in their Adivasi identity, which in turn shapes their politics of choosing to defend their land. 


Pallavi Raonka is an instructor at Roanoke College and Virginia Tech in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include issues of resource extraction, land-grabbing, indigenous communities, peasant livelihoods, gender, development, and social movements in India. She has also been engaging in advocacy work on issues related to food security with several subaltern grassroots groups, specifically, Adivasi and Dalit communities in rural India. Her research work analyzes forms of resistance engaged in by Adivasis in response to corporate land grabs, specifically in conflict-hit states of India and the red corridor, specifically Jharkhand. Before joining Virginia Tech, she graduated with a Master in Rural Development from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India. 

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Gender and educational discourses in Kazakhstan; Thursday 27th May 

Prof Naureen Durrani, Graduate School of Education, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a post-Soviet, modernising country with no gender disparity in access to schooling. Yet, multi-sectoral gender gaps at the expense of women exist alongside the prevalence of intimate partner violence and high levels of its social accessibility. Despite Kazakhstani girls doing better than boys in science and performing similarly as boys in mathematics, gendered patterns are visible in disciplinary choices in post-compulsory education, resulting in the concentration of women in feminised sectors of the economy—education and health—with low social status and wages. These educational, economic and social trends raise the question of the role of education in the (re)production of the gender order in Kazakhstan. Drawing on poststructuralist notions of discourse and gender, this paper explores the role of education in the production of gender in Kazakhstan by analysing secondary school textbooks and teachers’ discourses.

Naureen Durrani is Professor and Research Chair in School Education in the Graduate School of Education, Nazarbayev University. She is a teacher educator and a sociologist of education. Her research interests lie in the social, cultural, political and economic influences on education policy formulation and enactment, and the outcomes of education on identity formation and gender relations. Naureen draws on poststructural and postcolonial theories to produce contextually relevant and situated studies on a range of key topics in education studies – curriculum, teacher governance and education, citizenship identities and youth.

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The (new) Geopolitics of Knowledge – Understanding the technologies of subjectification in the global discourse on innovation and excellence in education; Thursday 3rd June 

The educational processes worldwide are widely shaped by neoliberal logic of knowledge-production (Hazelkorn 2017; Erkkilä and Piironen 2018). In a continuously globalised world, the competition over logics of knowledge-production is accompanied by epistemic and political changes as well as by postcolonial and power discourse (Robertson et al. 2016; Moisio 2018; Reiter 2018; Parreira do Amaral et al. 2019). In context of the (new) Geopolitics of Knowledge (Mignolo 2002) and using the theoretical lenses of Michel Foucault (Foucault 1988), the paper intends to provide a critical perspective on new and emerging forms of subjectivities and learning subjects. To narrow down the scope of analysis, it particularly examines the so-called 21st century key skills and competencies discourse (SCD) and unwraps discursive practices and technologies of subjectivation operating within. By compiling and critically assessing the world’s most popular frameworks of key skills and competencies it tries to address the production of subjectivities and understand their relation to the current geopolitical dynamic. 

Jozef Zelinka holds a PhD. in political science (University of Münster, Germany). In his doctoral thesis he applied the power analytics of Michel Foucault, particularly his notion of governmentality, to explore the neoliberal dispositive of prevention. At the same time, he joined the EU-funded research project YOUNG_ADULLLT focusing life courses of young adults at the intersection of lifelong learning policymaking and inclusion in education and work in Europe. In his current research phase, he addresses the issues of vulnerability, 21st century skills and competencies discourse, as well as the technologies of subjectification in the global education. While waiting for his next research appointment, his current affiliation is a private gymnasium for gifted children in Bratislava, Slovakia.



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Exploring Implications of the Social Model of Disability for Mathematics Education; Thursday 10th June 

Dr Rossi D’Souza, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai, India 

I present my PhD study which was an exploration of the question of what "the social model of disability" could mean for mathematics education. The research study evolved out of a chance visit to a study centre for blind children, in Mumbai, where I ended up volunteering as a music and mathematics teacher for over the period of six years.
By drawing from my students’ experiences with facing discrimination, and my field observations with conducting mathematics teaching sessions, my research work demonstrated that creating inclusive environments for blind mathematics learners is possible if conditions favour collective learning. And moreover, such conditions lead to a richer mathematical interaction among participants. However, as a follow up study of students who had moved on from the study centre and sought jobs and higher studies showed, the exclusion and disablement of blind students is a structural problem, and the political economy of exclusion poses limits to how much disablement can be overcome merely by making mathematics classrooms inclusive. My study therefore highlights the need for collective action. 

Rossi D'Souza has recently completed his PhD in Mathematics Education from the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education - TIFR, Mumbai. Prior to joining the PhD program, Rossi completed his M.Tech in Modeling and Simulation from the University of Pune before which he worked in teaching and industry. 

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Policyscapes of educational decentralisation: a spatial analysis of school-community relations in Northern Nigeria; Thursday 17th June 

Policyscapes of educational decentralisation: a spatial analysis of school-community relations in Northern Nigeria

Prof Máiréad Dunne, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex.

Educational decentralisation policies are now widespread globally. In this paper I focus on and problematise school–community relations as a vital component of the educational decentralisation policy scape. Drawing on ethnographic studies in and around six primary schools in Adamawa State, Northern Nigeria I highlight the local complexities and tensions underlying the global imperatives of providing universal access to primary education. This paper is contextualised within a geographical region characterised by both very little intergenerational experience of schooling and minimal engagement by local communities in social and political management processes. The context is also framed by the evaluative exigencies of educational development. A spatial analysis is presented here to offer nuance to the temporal emphasis integral to these dominant discourses of development. The exploration of school–community relations centres on the school boundary that both connects and distinguishes the institution from the surrounding community. In particular, I explore the agonistic spatial and temporal regulation that operates at the school boundary, with specific attention to the different ways that students, teachers and the community comply or resist with such strategies of governmentality. In concluding, I argue for deeper engagements with the local social landscapes into which international development policies are launched as a means to think through their diverse implications and to resist accounts of local deficit that are so readily invoked when top-down policies reach communities. 

Máiréad Dunne is Professor of Sociology of Education and Former Director, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex. Máiréad’s interests are in critical approaches to policy and practice with respect to inequalities, with focus on educational and social differences largely (though not exclusively) through micro-level studies of the intersecting and overlapping social relations of gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, nation and age (youth), and implications for livelihoods, equality and social development locally and globally. 

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Gendered catchment areas for higher education choice in Haryana, India; Thursday 24th June 

In global higher education research, making decisions about whether to attend higher education and which course and institution to choose are widely recognised to be impacted by intersecting factors such as gender, ethnicity and social class. India is no exception, with caste also featuring as an important factor in higher education choice. This presentation focuses on a specific setting, namely the state of Haryana in North India, but relates the findings on higher education choice to global discourses relating to access to higher education. The findings are drawn from a five-year project primarily funded by the Fair Chance Foundation, on gender and access to higher education in the North Indian state of Haryana. The key sites for this project are government colleges, which are relatively low cost, localised institutions providing higher education in India. The presentation is based on Phase I from this project, namely a mixed methods case study of three colleges in three districts of Haryana, and Phase II, an in-depth qualitative study of the involvement of family in higher education decision making. We construct higher education choice as a spatial practice which is gendered according to contextual cultural practices relating to the protection of feminine honour and chastity, the development of breadwinner-style masculinity, and where gendered expectations of young people translate into spatial restrictions on higher education access and choice. 

Project Twitter: @FCF Haryana

Project website: www.warwick.ac.uk/haryana 


  • Emily Henderson, Associate Professor, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick, UK (Twitter: @EmilyFrascatore)
  • Nidhi S. Sabharwal, Associate Professor, Centre for Policy Research in Higher Education, National Institute for Educational Administration and Planning, India (Twitter: @01Nidhi)
  • Anjali Thomas, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Education Studies & IAS Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick, UK (Twitter: @AnjaliThomas001)


Dr Emily F. Henderson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick. Emily’s research lies in the areas of gender and higher education; the academic profession, academic mobility and conferences; poststructuralist and feminist theory and research methodology. Emily’s current research projects include a 5-year project on gender and higher education in Haryana, India. She is also She is co-editor of the academic blog Conference Inference: Blogging the World of Conferences and author of Gender Pedagogy (Palgrave, 2015) and Gender, Definitional Politics and ‘Live’ Knowledge Production (Routledge, 2020), and co-editor of Starting with Gender in International Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2019) and Exploring Diary Methods in Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2021). 

Dr. Nidhi S. Sabharwal is currently an Associate Professor and the In-Charge at the Centre for Policy Research in Higher Education (CPRHE), National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), New Delhi, India. Dr Sabharwal has previously served as the Director at the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi.  Dr. Sabharwal’s current research projects include a multi-state study on student diversity and social inclusion in higher education institutions; an evaluation study of the coaching programmes for the socially excluded groups such as the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, the other backward classes and the minorities in Universities and Colleges and is key research partner in a 5-year project on gender and higher education in the state of Haryana, India. She is the co-author of Caste, Discrimination, And Exclusion in Modern India (Sage, 2015), co-editor of Bridging the Social Gap: Perspectives on Dalit Empowerment (Sage, 2014), and co-editor of India Higher Education Report 2016: Equity in Higher Education (Sage, 2018).

Anjali Thomas is a PhD candidate at the Department of Education Studies at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and an Early Career Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study. Her PhD is being funded by the Fair Chance Foundation and the University of Warwick. Her PhD research has informed the Fair Chance for Education Project on gendered pathways to educational success in Haryana, India. Her doctoral research explores the role of families in the gendered educational trajectories of undergraduates accessing Higher Education in Haryana. She has also worked with CORD (Collaborative Research and Dissemination) and ICRW on a qualitative research project. She is interested in exploring researching gender and educational choices. 

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