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“What’s the use of education?” Nobel Prize-winner Professor Amartya Sen launches IOE Centre for Education and International Development

15 June 2017

School pupils in Kiva, Kenya. Photo by Shaherose Jamal

Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Amartya Sen (Harvard University) launched the UCL Institute of Education’s (IOE) Centre for Education and International Development (CEID) on Thursday 15 June.

Watch the full event

This new research centre will build on the IOE’s leading contribution to the academic field of education and international development, bringing together a wide range of academics, students, alumni and practitioners working in diverse settings in every continent to address some of the world’s most important challenges. 

Professor Sen’s keynote lecture explored the theme “What’s the use of education?” following a day-long symposium at the IOE. The symposium presented CEID members’ current work, drawing on the five key themes that underpin the Centre’s research. Panel talks discussed the relationship between education and conflict, peacebuilding, migration, poverty, wellbeing and gender.

Amartya Sen Moses Oketch

Professor Elaine Unterhalter, co-director of the Centre alongside Professor Moses Oketch, gave an historical overview of gender, education and development research. Dr Tejendra Pherali explored peacebuilding through Higher Education in Somaliland and also chaired a discussion on the impact of IS activities on education in Afghanistan. Dr Elaine Chase and Dr Francesca Meloni assessed the educational experiences of migrant young people in transition in the UK.

The symposium highlighted the importance of intersectoral research and showcased the theoretically engaged and critically reflexive work undertaken at the Centre. One panel event explored the fact that education, health and wellbeing are often intimately linked in people’s day-to-day lives, yet are often addressed by separate ministries and separate professional groupings.

Amartya Sen Provost 2

Speaking of the Centre, Professor Unterhalter said:

“In a world of profound inequalities both within and between countries, the CEID’s vision is to contribute to the education of social justice, peacebuilding, health and wellbeing, equalities, and women’s rights. Through our research and teaching, we are painfully aware that education often falls short of all these aspirations; it contributes to and is shaped by intersecting inequalities, hierarchies, exclusions, displacements, violence and conflicts.

“We see our distinctive contribution as recognising that education can be reproductive of injustices, but can also contribute to being transformative. This recognition and association with bending toward equality and social justice against many international, national and local divisions is a hallmark of the work we do. We associate CEID with research and practice that is theoretically engaged, methodologically rigorous, and critically reflexive about data, the contexts in which data are generated, and the uses made of data.”

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Image: by Shaherose Jamal
Images from event: Shamse Majid