The Aga Khan University brings Early Childhood Education to the forefront

The Aga Khan University brings Early Childhood Education to the forefront

Dr Bame Nsamenang, a keynote speaker at the Annual Research Institute 2013November 25, 2013

Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development, held its 3rd Annual Research Institute from 21st to the 23rd of October 2013. This year’s main theme was “Towards Contextually Relevant Early Years Care and Education.” Provision and quality of early childhood education is of great importance to the East Africa region because early childhood education is now part of the universal primary education but the provision on the ground is quite uneven. Moreover, it is well recognized that enrolment in early childhood education is a significant factor in ensuring learners’ retention and performance in primary school and beyond. 

A major goal of the Annual Research Institute 2013 was to deliberate on issues related to contextually relevant and culturally responsive early childhood care and education in East Africa.  Eminent regional and international scholars and experts in the field were invited to share their knowledge and cumulative wisdom.  These included:

  • Professor Anna Kirova Professor, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Professor Bame Nsamenang University of Bamenda, Cameroon
  • Dr. John Ng’Asike, Kenyatta University, Kenya
  • Dr. Godfrey Ejuu, Kyambogo University, Uganda
  • Dr. Almina Pardhan
Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, Pakistan
  • Dr. Darcey Dachyshyn, Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development East Africa
  • Sheila Manji, Programme Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva

In his keynote address Professor Bame challenged the dominant prevailing theories and concepts of early childhood education and maintained that: “When it comes to African communities we have so much focus on what is happening outside Africa, particularly in Europe and north America, that we then neglect what is in place in our communities, what is happening, and what our populations, generations of populations have done for centuries…so what can we learn from what our parents have done for centuries, what is the strength, what is the resilience in there that can be taken, pulled out. That is a delicate thing, that is complex, we need to chart the way that was done. We haven’t done that, and that’s a missing link in this country. We are talking about challenges and issues, ‘that is not correct, this is not correct,’ but what is it, how do we get that strength. I think that’s true research. “

In another keynote address, Professor Kirova spoke to the issues of children’s identity and the mother tongue. She had this to say about her experience at the institute and her feelings towards the passion of the participants involved: “The willingness to make a change is what impresses me the most so I’m very grateful to be here and excited to be a part of the conversation.”

Over the three days nearly 90 participants from nine different countries discussed contextually relevant early childhood education from multiple dimensions including Africentric culturally and linguistically relevant early childhood education, age appropriate pedagogies, funding of interventions in early childhood, and quality of teachers. The event also provided a forum for networking, dialogue and sharing of experiences to a range of stakeholders including key NGOs, public sector institutions, teacher training colleges, members of the Ministry of Gender and Development, academics and graduate students.

The Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development in East Africa provides professional development programmes to teachers, teacher educators, educational leaders and managers across East Africa. They have a Masters of Education programme, a Centre for Continuing Education and Life Long Learning and an active research portfolio. Programmes and activities in the area of Early Childhood Education and Care cut across the three strands and are delivered and conducted by expert faculty who are recognised internationally for their work.

For more information on our research programmes, please contact Rosemary Stephen at


Rosemary Stephen


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