Webinar: Reopening the Future: Prioritizing Pre-primary Education

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Robert Jenkins, Global Director of Education, UNICEF

Robert Jenkins, Global Director of Education for UNICEF, joined the organization in 1995. He brings over 20 years of experience in international development and humanitarian programming in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Jenkins served as the UNICEF Representative, Jordan, from 2014–2019, and Deputy Director, Division of Policy and Strategy in UNICEF Headquarters from 2009–2014. From 1995–2009, Robert Jenkins served with UNICEF in programme and management positions in Uganda (1995–1997), Bangladesh (1997–2000), Myanmar (2000–2003), India (2003–2006), and Mozambique (2006–2009).

Mr. Jenkins earned a Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Bath and a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom.

Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO

Stefania Giannini was appointed UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education in May 2018, becoming the top UN official in the field. In this position, she provides strategic vision and leadership for UNESCO in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda, encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 4.

With an academic background in the Humanities, Ms. Giannini has served as Rector of the University for Foreigners of Perugia (2004–2012), being one of the first and youngest women to hold this position in Italy. As Senator of the Republic of Italy (2013–2018) and Minister of Education, Universities, and Research (2014–2016), she developed and implemented a structural reform of the Italian education system, centred on social inclusion and cultural awareness. She has also been closely involved in an advisory capacity with the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation.

Jaime Saavedra, Global Director, Education, The World Bank Group

Jaime Saavedra leads the Education Global Practice at the World Bank Group. He rejoined the World Bank Group from the Government of Peru, where he served as Minister of Education from 2013 through 2016. During his tenure, the performance of Peru’s education system improved substantially as measured by international learning assessments.

Throughout his career, Mr. Saavedra, a Peruvian national, has led groundbreaking work in the areas of poverty and inequality, employment and labor markets, the economics of education, and monitoring and evaluation systems. He has held positions at a number of international organizations and think-tanks, among them the Inter-American Development Bank, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, International Labour Organization, Grupo de Análisis para el Desarollo and the National Council of Labor in Peru.

He has also held teaching and research positions in academia and has published extensively. Prior to assuming his role as Minister for Education of Peru, he had a ten-year career at the World Bank where, most recently, he served as Director for Poverty Reduction and Equity as well as Acting Vice President, Poverty Reduction & Economic Management Network. Mr. Saavedra holds a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from the Catholic University of Peru.

Amanda Devercelli, Global Lead for Early Childhood Development, The World Bank Group

Amanda E. Devercelli is the Global Lead for Early Childhood Development at the World Bank.

In 2012, she launched the Bank’s Early Learning Partnership, a $30 million multi-donor fund that promotes increased investments in children’s early years through actionable research and improved policies and programs. To date, ELP has generated more than $300 million in new funding to support ECD globally. Amanda co-led the development of the Bank’s Systems Approach for Better Education Results-Early Childhood Development (SABER-ECD) and has authored numerous publications.

She also leads operational and analytical work across the Bank’s portfolio. Current research areas include engaging the non-state sector in early learning and the linkages between early learning and later skills. Amanda has a Master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and was awarded the Reynolds Fellowship in Social Enterprise by the Harvard Kennedy School.

Moderator: Gwang-Chol Chang, Chief of the Education Policy Section, UNESCO

Gwang-Chol Chang is currently the Chief of Education Policy Section at UNESCO Headquarters since June 2019. Before that, he worked as Senior Programme Specialist, Chief of Education Section at the UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar since February 2016, and coordinated all education programmes of the Office. Prior to joining Dakar Office, he was Senior Programme Specialist at UNESCO Bangkok (Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education), where he led UNESCO’s regional education programmes on sector policy, technical and vocational education and training, quality of education, and education research, and foresight. From 1996 to 2010, he served at various units of UNESCO’s Education Sector in Paris, supporting diverse programmes, including policy analysis, planning, and management. Before 1996, he worked at the Ministry of Education of his country.

He holds a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) from Kim Hyong Jik University of Education, DPR Korea

Ajwok Mary Valentino, Global Youth Ambassador, TheirWorld — Uganda

Ajwok Mary Valentino is a 27-year-old Theirworld Global Youth Ambassador from South Sudan, now living in Uganda. Ajwok’s interest in early childhood education was inspired by her own experiences, missing the pre-primary stage of learning due to conflict in her country. She believes every child deserves the right to a peaceful learning environment and quality education and wishes to use her voice for the needs of displaced children to help develop solutions that can change their lives for the better.

Now a teacher in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement in Uganda, Ajwok continues to develop her knowledge and skills of early childhood education to help impact her community effectively. She has spoken at One Young World East African Network as a student leader and has also co-authored a publication on Covid-19 and the impact on South Sudanese young women peacebuilders.

Anindita Nugroho, Education Research Consultant, UNICEF-Innocenti

Dita is a full-time research consultant with UNICEF Office of Research — Innocenti, with a specific focus on early childhood education research. She joined UNICEF after working on a large-scale reform of the kindergarten sector, including developing cost and teacher supply and demand modeling, as a senior policy adviser at the Victorian Department of Education and Training in Australia. Prior to that, she managed the development of classroom and learning measurements for a program to identify successful innovative approaches in Indonesian classrooms.

Dita is a mixed-method policy researcher and has worked on a range of education research projects, covering the formal and non-formal sectors and ranging from early years to higher education, in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico, the Philippines, and Ethiopia. This experience includes five years with the Australian Council for Educational Research. Dita holds an MA in Education and Economics from Columbia University and a Master of Public Policy from the Australian National University.

Ben Chikaipa, ECD Project Manager, Sightsavers

Ben works on Sightsavers Early Childhood Development and Education programme in Malawi to ensure that ECD in Malawi is inclusive of children with disabilities. Before joining Sightsavers Ben worked at World Vision and prior to this was a Secondary School teacher. He has a Master's in Development Studies and a Degree in Education.

Myagmar Jadamba, Head of Pre-primary Education Department, Ministry of Education and Science of Mongolia

Ms. Myagmar Jadamba has been working for the Ministry of Education of Mongolia since 1998 serving as an officer, senior officer, and department head in pre-primary and primary education sectors. She has contributed to the increase of Early Childhood Education (ECE) access, implementation, and enhancement of ECE laws and regulations, implementing ECE facility standards, and pre-and in-service training for ECE manpower. She recently has played a leading role in a consultative meeting among the relevant ministries on Integrated ECD and the revision of the IECD policy 2005 in Mongolia. She has a bachelor’s degree from the Mongolian State University of Education (1994) and a master’s degree in public administration from the Mongolia Academy of Management and Leadership (1996).

MoES in partnership with UNICEF Mongolia has developed 5 series of short videos on Integrated ECD for parents in March 2020 and one video is about how to wear a mask. The video was disseminated by a TV channel with the TV lessons. The video link is here.

Abdallah Sow, ECE Programme Coordinator, Directorate of preschool Education, Ministry of Education in Senegal

Mr. Sow has a very rich experience of 29 years in education planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. He notably participated in the development and implementation of Senegal major education programmes and projects such as the programme for Quality, Equity and transparency improvement (Programme d’Amélioration de la Qualité, de l’Equité et de la Transparence, PAQUET 2018–2030), the education development programme (Programme d’Appui au Développement de l’Education au Sénégal, PADES, 2019–2023) co-supported by the GPE and the Agence Française de Développement funds, the investing in the early years for human development project (2019–2024) funded by the World Bank.

Mr. Sow coordinated the development of strategic documents for preschool education such as a play-based maths teaching guide financed by JICA. He’s currently coordinating the preschool curriculum revision with support from the World Bank. He is a member of a steering committee put in place with the support from UNICEF to develop and implement community-based approaches for preschool.

UNICEF is committed to ensuring equitable access to a quality #education for every child.