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Institute of Education

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Q&A with Moses Oketch

Moses Oketch is Professor of International Education Policy and Development, and Co-Director of the Centre for Education and International Development.

What is the focus of your research?
My areas of research interest include economics of education, education policy analysis, and impact evaluation, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. 

All of my research builds on the connection between human capital theory - the idea that investment in education is instrumental for economic growth - and implementation of policies. But however compelling the theory of human capital may be, it remains tacit if actual implementation of policies don't work - educational investment is yet to achieve rapid economic improvement in sub-Saharan Africa.

I ask, why is that? And what can be done about it? We can learn a lot from the application of this theory.

What attracted you to take up your position at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE)? 
I joined UCL Institite of Education (IOE) at the start of 2004. What attracted me was the reputation of IOE globally, and its long history in the area of education and international development. I had been an early career academic at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and the opportunity to be at a global institution in central London was also an attraction. I had imagined there would be many international students at IOE, and this I found to be true when I arrived.

What do you most enjoy about your position and why?
Teaching and interacting with students from diverse backgrounds and diverse countries. This has enriched my own understanding of issues from various students own place knowledge and their perspectives.

My own research has enabled me to question and have a better understanding of the value and the challenges of human capital theory approach to education in low-income contexts, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, at the same time, it is a powerful way that both government and parents see the practical value of education.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students?
They are keen to make a difference in the world and they believe studying education and international development is a conduit to realise this goal.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Through research, I have contributed about 100 papers to the field of education and international development, presented this research at about 100 conferences nationally and internationally, and engaged policy makers, particularly in Kenya.

I initiated an MA at IOE that is thriving, and my involvement with African Population and Health Research Centre where I mentored several researchers. I am also proud to have served on the Board of Directors of Comparative, International Education Society (CIES) for three years, as well as my engagement with UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as a Senior Research Fellow.

What other subjects outside of your area of specialism interests you?
Sociology is interesting. I have also started to enjoy Africa poetry.