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[Webinar] Evidence, Knowledge and Research in the Context of COVID-19: Fostering Equitable Partnerships for Mutual Learning
Event Date: 
Fri, 2021/07/23
Webinar on the Futures of Humanity and the Planet: Learning to Become

Evidence, Knowledge and Research in the Context of COVID-19: Fostering Equitable Partnerships for Mutual Learning 


Beyond its direct impacts on education, the COVID-19 crisis has brought to the fore challenges and opportunities for reimagining education research and knowledge for sustainable futures.  

Evidence, knowledge and research are distinct concepts and yet interrelated. The emphasis on ‘evidence-based’ policies in education and international development is sometimes critiqued for relying on knowledge produced through unequal power relations and inequitable research partnerships. 

Existing literature and the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for locally generated, tested and adapted evidence, stressing the importance of understanding the dynamics of specific contexts. The pandemic has exposed new and existing structural vulnerabilities of education, differential impacts on learning and the need to building more inclusive and resilient arrangements for education and learning at all levels.

Join us this Friday! Attendees will be invited to share comments and questions throughout the discussion. 30 minutes will be dedicated to Questions & Answers. 

Simultaneous interpretation from English to French will be available.


Keith Holmes will moderate the webinar, setting the scene by exploring the nature of evidence, knowledge and data, and the power imbalances in education research partnerships and networks, by questioning whose agendas are prioritized, and who has ownership of research and evaluation processes. 

Prachi Srivastava will consider key assumptions and institutions that underlie education systems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her paper explores the legitimization of knowledge, with reference to inclusion/exclusion, and identifies conceptual shifts needed for meaningful actions in the current crisis. 

Vainola Makan, Rafael Mitchell and Wendy Pekeur will discuss enabling structures and spaces for equitable knowledge co-creation and capacity mobilization within international research partnerships. 

As discussant, Joel Samoff will then provide critical reflections on the papers presented. Together, the panel will reflect on steps towards socially responsible approaches to knowledge generation, such as equitable capacity exchange, mutual learning, self-critique, and equitable partnerships and networks. Finally, the panel suggests ways forward in evidence, knowledge and research for sustainable futures.


  • Moderator’s remarks: 
    Keith Holmes, UNESCO Future of Learning and Innovation Team

  • Education and the Pandemic: assumptions, institutions, and a way forward

  • Prachi Srivastava, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, Canada

  • Opening spaces for equitable, locally-responsive knowledge co-creation: Lessons from Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures

  • Vainola Makan, Associate of Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement, South Africa

  • Rafael Mitchell, Co-Director of the Centre for Comparative & International Research in Education (CIRE), University of Bristol, UK 

  • Wendy Pekeur, Founder of Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement, South Africa

  • Discussant’s remarks: 

  • Joel Samoff, African Studies Center, Stanford University, United States of America


More information about the speakers:

Keith Holmes is a Programme Specialist in UNESCO's Future of Learning and Innovation team. Keith is currently involved in education research and foresight activities, especially on higher education, notably through the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme.

Prachi Srivastava is tenured Associate Professor specialising in education and international development. Currently, Dr. Srivastava is working on the global education emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is leading a high-level policy brief for the T20 Task Force on COVID-19, which will feed into the G20 Summit, and has also provided recommendations for the Ontario Ministry of Education based on this work. Dr. Srivastava's long-term research interests are: non-state private sector engagement in education; global philanthropy and impact investment; private schooling and education privatisation; and global education policy and the right to education in the Global South.

Rafael Mitchell is Co-Director of the Centre for Comparative & International Research in Education (CIRE) at the University of Bristol. His research and teaching focuses on education in Africa, and addresses the processes of schooling and school improvement for disadvantaged groups, and inequalities in knowledge production on education. Rafael serves on the leadership team of the UK GCRF research network Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures, which is supporting around 60 Southern-led research projects in Rwanda, Somalia/Somaliland, South Africa and India. He previously worked at the University of Cambridge where he helped to establish the African Education Research Database.


Vainola Makan is a feminist and gender activist who has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 20 years. She was the lead researcher for the assessment of work done by Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth in the time of Covid-19, which was supported by the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures South African hub based at Rhodes University. She has used participatory methods to explore the interlinkages of social justice, gender and environmental issues in society with groups of people who traditionally excluded from knowledge and material resources are impacted. She initiated a Covid-19 Women Support Group, and has been involved in building several grassroots women's movements and is currently an associate of Ubuntu and active in Sisterhood Movement.
Wendy Pekeur has more than 20 years of experience in land activism and labour rights with women on farms. She was the General Secretary of the first women led trade union in South Africa Sikhula Sonke. She worked as an organizer for Women on Farms Project. She is a Trainer in Labour Law and does arbitration and conciliation at the CCMA for unlawful dismissals on farms and evictions of farm dwellers. She serves as a Human Rights Monitor during Covid-19 for the South African Human Rights Commission and is the Founder of Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement and is currently the Coordinator.
Joel Samoff has a background in history, political science, and education, he studies and teaches about education and development. From Kilimanjaro coffee farmers in Tanzania to militant bus drivers in Ann Arbor Michigan to the education activists of Namibia and South Africa, the orienting concern of his work has been understanding how people organize themselves to transform their communities. Concerned with public policy as well as research, and especially with the links between them, Samoff works regularly with international agencies and NGOs involved in African education. Formerly its North America Editor, he serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Educational Development and on the editorial boards of the Comparative Education Review, the Journal of Educational Research in Africa, and the Southern African Review of Education.