About me/education: After completing an honour’s degree in History and Sociology at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, I moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to teach English for a year. Through this, I became interested in the role of private schools, particularly low cost, in low income settings. I moved to London in 2014 and in 2017, I completed an MA at UCL-IOE in Education, Gender and Development where I was able to explore the role of the private sector in education and development, through a gender lens. After completing my studies, I began working for the Equalities in Public Private Partnerships: a network of academics, policy makers and development practitioners, researching the role of PPPs in development. Through this network, I began research on quality and equality in low cost private schools in Lagos, Nigeria. Most recently, I have been working on a research project for an NGO on adolescent girls.
I am currently studying towards an MSc in Research for International Development at SOAS, University of London, as part of a 1+3 PhD programme.
My research: For this PhD, I will research the origins and effects of the rise of low cost private schools in sub-Saharan Africa, taking a political economy approach. I will critically assess current aid policies that promote and strengthen the role of the private sector in education in developing countries, such as those associated with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), United Nations (UN) agencies, the World Bank (WB), and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This will take into consideration the political, economic and socio-cultural context within which policies are formed, as well as deploy a gender lens to consider ways in which effects of privatization can be understood and commonly evaluated. My research will be carried out in collaboration with Action Aid, a key practitioner in the field of development policy, which works to keep the work of multilateral and bilateral agencies under scrutiny with regard to the equity impacts of education privatization.
The difference my research makes:The research is intended to further an investigation into the origins and effects of privatization, particularly with regard to girls’ education and gender equality, with related work offering positive solutions around expanding the sustainable financing of free public education, in line with SDG targets.
Achieving accessible, available, quality public education is one of Action Aid’s global priorities and many countries where Action Aid works are addressing education issues related to privatization. The research is also intended to contribute to Action Aid’s advocacy and campaign work on education, at both national and international levels.
Publications: Unterhalter, E., Robinson, L. & Ibrahim, J., 2018. Quality and Equalities: A comparative study of public and low cost private schools in Lagos,
Location: UCL-IOE and SOAS, University of London
Pathway: International Development