De-colonising Digital Education: Bridging the Great Divide
08/02/2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
An online event from
the London International Development Centre (LIDC)
with the University of London Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE)
and the Bloomsbury Learning Exchange (BLE)
This event has now concluded. You can watch a recording of the event here
COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have disproportionately affected those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The closure of educational establishments forced students into the domestic realm, ostensibly to continue their education digitally. For many students in LMICs, this was a difficult, if not impossible goal. Those who needed educational support the most suffered its removal most acutely. Those with learning difficulties and/or impairments became increasingly isolated. Female students were pushed back into the domestic sphere that education had promised a route out of. Around the world, gender violence and teenage pregnancies spiked during pandemic lockdowns. In previously-colonised countries with poorly-resourced educational infrastructure, many simply did not have the tools (laptops, broadband, electricity – and the finance with which to pay for these) that were necessary for digital education. Many students came under pressure to earn money to help feed their families. Meanwhile, those charged with educating students faced this task while also carrying the burdens of being care-givers for their own families and communities.
Growing inequalities highlight the need to ‘decolonise’ education. Conversations on decolonisation/decoloniality that had started pre-COVID-19 had almost always been founded on patriarchal and neo-colonial assumptions that ‘western’ academics and policymakers know what is best for those low-resource settings such as Africa, Asia and Latin America. Thus, these conversations fall along geographical axes mirroring paths laid down during colonialism. As we emerge from lockdowns into a ‘new normal,’ and with inequalities now greater than pre-pandemic, should we now be challenging the normalisation of inequalities, especially around digital education? Join us for this important conversation.
About the Speakers:
Dr. Oscar Mwaanga is the Programme Director of the International Sport Management Programme at University of London and an Emeritus Associate Professor with Solent University (UK). He is also a Fellow of the University of London Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE). His research and activism work focuses on decolonising Higher Education, Sports industry, and international development. As a CODE fellow, Dr. Mwaanga contributes to the collective work of the Decolonising Working Group whose aim is to inspire, lead and support collective work towards the decolonisation of the University of London curriculum and pedagogy.
Selamawit Reta believes that understanding the past is essential to managing the present and the future. This belief is born out in her deep interest in both Eastern and Western Philosophy and its place in understanding the state of being and its social implications. Selamawit works as a Software project Manager and holds a BSc in Computer engineering and an MBA. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and is currently studying for a Masters degree, also in Theology, with Agora University.
Dr Romina Istratii is UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the School of History, Religions and Philosophies at SOAS University of London. She is Principal Investigator of the UKRI-funded project “Bridging religious studies, gender & development and public health to address domestic violence: A novel approach for Ethiopia and the UK” and creator of project dldl/ድልድል. She is a critical international development thinker and practitioner from Eastern Europe with decade-long experience in developing cosmology-sensitive and people-centred methodologies and approaches for analysing and addressing issues with gender dimensions in religious societies of Africa. In 2019, she initialised the Decolonising Research Initiative under the aegis of the SOAS Research Directorate and in 2020, she co-founded of Decolonial Subversions, an open access, multilingual, peer-reviewed publishing platform that aims to subvert western epistemology and to promote the diversification of knowledge production. She is the author of the monograph Adapting Gender and Development to Local Religious Contexts: A Decolonial Approach to Domestic Violence in Ethiopia (Routledge, 2020).
About the Chair
Dr Christine Thuranira-McKeever is the Director for Online and Distance Learning Programmes, and the Vice-principal for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). In her academic role, Christine is responsible for the academic and strategic leadership of the RVC’s postgraduate distance learning programmes as well as the Professional Doctorate Programme and she contributes to the teaching on these programmes and in other RVC courses.
Christine is also a Fellow of the University of London Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE); her main research interests are in learning design, enhancing the student experience & improving retention, international institutional partnerships to support students and decolonising higher education.