Spotlight Sessions


Africa Spotlight Session

Crossing the African boundaries and building bridges with the rest of the world

Africa is now the fastest growing continent in the world. The new possibilities of growth also come with growing pains among educators who straddle the demands of digitally literate youth and antiquated, often inequitable, and crisis-ridden educational systems.

The ICSEI 2021 Africa Spotlight Session builds on the connections first established in the 33rd edition of ICSEI 2020, held for the first time in Africa. In 2020, the ICSEI African spotlight showcased Africa’s educational improvement as lived by African education leaders, disruptors, and innovators.  In 2021, we will take stock of the ICSEI 2020 network to co-construct strategies for spanning the institutional boundaries within/between nation states in Africa, and build mutually rewarding bridges with the rest of the world.

Africa is often dichotomized into French vs. English, North vs. South; Muslim vs. Christian; black vs. white, democratic vs authoritarian, poor vs. rich, tribal vs national, and the list continues. The dichotomies are part of the diversity of the continent. They should not, however, preclude a shared vision of improvement that serves the educational aspirations of African youth.

As a community of international educators with the resources to connect science, advocacy, and networks to promote quality education for all students, the African Spotlight session presents a unique opportunity to highlight African colleagues’ disposition to reach within their continents for collaborative networks, as well as build bridges with the rest of the world. The challenges of access, equity, quality, efficiency, governance, and sustainability pose compelling issues that almost every country struggles with, albeit at different levels. By seeking to identify ways to cross boundaries within and outside the continent, we recognize the finiteness of our individual resources and the infiniteness of what we can achieve together.

We will therefore sustain the innovation of the 2020 African spotlight by inviting panelists to propose strategies to put in place to promote collaboration between education individual and institutional actors within and outside Africa. In this vein, we would like to seize the opportunity of ICSEI’s commitment to collaboration with Africa to identify areas of intersection where the African education actors and ICSEI could collaborate for the benefit of educational improvement in Africa and beyond.

Session Chair: Mohammed Elmeski, Arizona State University, USA


Andrew Wambua, Educator, Researcher and Co-founder, Africa Voices Dialogue, Kenya

Elarbi Imad, President, Executive Director of the Moroccan Center for Civic Education

Kim Schildkamp, University of Twente, Netherlands

Maxwell Beganim, Training Associate at Open Foundation West Africa, Ghana

Robyn Whittaker, Collaboration Convener Kaleidoscope Lights / Co-Founder Africa Voices Dialogue, South Africa

New Zealand Spotlight Session

Innovation through diversity

Organised by Mei Lai and Claire Sinnema, Faculty of Education and Social Work, the University of Auckland

Innovation happens at the intersection of industries, disciplines and cultures when ideas and concepts from diverse fields are integrated in creative ways (Johansson, 2004).  The NZ spotlight session focuses on how diverse groups of stakeholders have combined their knowledge to innovate practice and improve teaching and learning. The three presentations focus on different but inter-related innovations developed with and for diverse communities –a national policy focus on wellbeing that is informed by and caters for diverse communities, research on the affective and social-psychological drivers of success for Indigenous Māori, and an innovative partnership building between schools and communities using technology.

 Presentation 1: From evidence to policy and back again

Stuart McNaughton, Chief Education Scientific Advisor (New Zealand)

Many countries are concerned to develop children’s social and emotional skills. In Aotearoa New Zealand there has been a policy context of loose prescription which has been associated with both innovation and variability in effectiveness.  A new innovative policy context has been set at a national level for a focus on wellbeing that is informed by and caters for diverse communities, and in parallel there has been increased research and development focussing on how best to promote valued skills, such as those associated with self-regulation. The ongoing relationship between policy and research is both iterative and recursive. Furthermore, the conditions created by Covid have exaggerated both need and enterprise.

Stuart McNaughton  (ONZM, PhD) is New Zealand’s Chief Education Scientific Advisor, and a Professor of Education at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Auckland. He is a recipient of research prizes, consults on curricula and educational interventions internationally and nationally, and  is a member of the International Reading Hall of Fame for sustained contributions to literacy research, literacy leadership and the preparation of leaders in literacy field through teaching.  

Presentation 2: Educational research by, with and for diverse school communities

Melinda Webber, Rutherford Discovery Fellow (New Zealand)

There are a growing number of Indigenous Māori students not just attaining educational success but thriving in the schooling context. Educational psychology has much to learn from these students and it behoves researchers to empirically analyse the drivers of their success.  While it has been acknowledged that self-concept, self-esteem and self-efficacy affect the academic engagement of students, few studies have examined the affective and social-psychological drivers of success for Māori students in particular. ‘Kia tū rangatira ai: Living, thriving and succeeding at school’ is a strengths-based research project investigating how students, but particularly Indigenous Māori students, learn, succeed and thrive at school. This nationally representative project involves large numbers of students (n = 18,996), family members (n = 6949) and teachers (n = 1866) who have shared their beliefs about how students develop positive attitudes, motivation and engagement towards school, future aspirations, and who their role-models for success are. Overall, the study (which has been driven by school communities themselves) will enable us to better understand the personal, teacher, whānau and community factors that positively impact students’ learning and success at school.

Dr Melinda Webber (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu) is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Auckland. She is a recipient of a number of prestigious research grants for projects focused on better understanding the effects of culturally sustaining teaching, localised curricula, and enduring school-family-community partnerships for learning.

Presentation 3: Connecting Community, Learning and School – The creation of an innovative app. 

Building partnerships with a multi-cultural and linguistically diverse community has been important work since founding Stonefields School 10 years ago.  We set out to develop an App (SchoolTalk) to ensure learning is accessible for teachers, learners and parents to enable learner agency, parent engagement and teacher efficiency and effectiveness.  Through the feedback of teachers, learners and parents, SchoolTalk was developed to weave together key elements of teaching, learning and assessment.  This has allowed the app to communicate in ‘real time’ how a child is achieving and progressing.  Hear how a growing network of Schools engages and shares expertise to inform future developments of this innovative app to ensure equity for all.

Sarah Martin is the Foundation Principal of Stonefields School. She is a passionate, forward thinking educator who has held leadership roles in a number of schools, and has a real commitment to improving outcomes for all learners, not just those within her school community.  

Emily Ruffell was an Associate Principal at Stonefields School for four years. Currently, she works as the Schooltalk Innovation Lead for The Stonefields Collaborative Trust. She works with schools, not only in getting SchoolTalk up and running, but also in supporting them to create the optimal conditions for its success.


Generational Renewal, Inclusion, and Diversity (GRID) Spotlight Session

Leveraging Lessons From the Pandemic to Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

ICSEI’s Generational Renewal, Inclusion and Diversity Standing Committee (GRID) is proud to host its first virtual GRID Spotlight Session. The dynamic and interactive session focuses on leveraging lessons from the pandemic to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. Its guiding questions are: What has the pandemic amplified related to diversity, equity and inclusion? What are emerging opportunities to improve research, policy and practice? How do we leverage these opportunities? In the session, guest presenters Adil Bentahar (Morocco/USA), Troy Heffernan (Australia) and Tasha Ausman (Canada) will share their ideas with co-hosts Trista Hollweck (Canada) and Mauricio Pino Yancovic (Chile).  Participants will be invited to contribute during the session and stay for an informal chat that will follow. We hope to see you there! This GRID Spotlight Session will be recorded and available post-congress with closed captioning and translation options enabled.


Dr. Tasha Ausman is a Part-Time Professor at the University of Ottawa, and a full-time mathematics and science teacher with Western Quebec School Board.  Her research employs decolonizing, psychoanalytic, and post-colonial frameworks in the areas of Curriculum Studies, Mathematics, and recently, Queer Studies. Her work appears in the Journal of the Canadian Association of Curriculum StudiesMulticultural Education Review, and Transnational Curriculum Inquiry.  As well, her co-authored work appears in book collections including Disney, Culture and Curriculum (Routledge, 2016) and The Critical Youth Studies Reader (Peter Lang, 2014).  She is presently working on research approaches to decolonize teaching in secondary science and mathematics classrooms and is currently exploring the intersection between visual-arts-based pedagogies and biology.

Dr. Adil Bentahar is an Assistant Professor at the English Language Institute (ELI), University of Delaware, where usually teaches in the Academic Transitions and the MA-TESL programs. He is currently working (with colleagues) on two research projects; the first studies the impact of a teacher professional development program on Saudi educators, and the second examines the impact of moving online on reading instruction in English language programs. Dr. Bentahar’s research interests include reading, teacher development, civic learning, and social justice.

Dr Troy Heffernan is Lecturer in Leadership at La Trobe University. His research examines higher education administration and policy with a particular focus on investigating the inequities that persist in the sector. Dr Heffernan’s research objective is to help ensure that diverse and marginalised groups are represented and treated equitably throughout the sector.