Congress Keynote Speakers

Congress Keynote Speaker 1

Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education.


Title of the keynote: The implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda: The road to more inclusive and equal education for all

Tuesday January 7, 2020 17H30-18H30

Biography: Ms Stefania Giannini was appointed Assistant Director-General for Education in May 2018, becoming the top United Nations official in the field of education. In addition to her current position, Ms Giannini is Advisor to the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation as well as a member of the Atlantis Group of the Varkey Foundation and of RISE (Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts)

With an academic background in the Humanities (PhD in Linguistics), Ms Giannini became Professor of Linguistics in 1992 and served as Rector of the University for Foreigners of Perugia (2004 – 2012), being one of the first female Rectors and the youngest at that time in Italy.

During these years, Ms Giannini coordinated a number of relevant international projects in the field of higher education and research, contributing to the improvement of university cooperation between Europe and several other countries, from the United States to countries in Asia as well as the Middle East and North Africa region.  

Later on, in her role as Senator of the Republic of Italy (2013 – 2018) and Minister of Education, Universities and Research (2014 – 2016), she developed and implemented a structural reform of the Italian education system, centred on social inclusion and targeting cultural awareness.

Abstract: Ms Stefania Giannini will talk about the strategic vision and leadership for UNESCO’s Education Sector in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda, encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 4. She will focus on promoting education as a fundamental human right, through the importance of language, lifelong learning, culture, freedom of expression and identity, in an effort to ensure more inclusive and equal societies.


Keynote Speaker 2

Professor Kathryn Riley, Professor of Urban Education, UCL, Institute of Education London, UK

Title of the keynote: Stories that change lives: The Belonging Imperative: Why Schools in the Global North & South need to be places of belonging for all, & what needs to change for this to happen

 Wednesday January 8, 2020   09H00-10H30

Biography: Kathryn Riley is Professor of Urban Education, UCL, Institute of Education and an international scholar whose work bridges policy and practice. Born in Manchester, she began her work in education as a volunteer teacher in Eritrea. She has taught in inner-city schools, held political office – as an elected member of the Inner London Education Authority (the ILEA) – and been a local authority Chief Officer. Her international experience includes heading up the World Bank’s Effective Schools and Teachers Group, and projects with UNICEF and the OECD. She has published widely.

Kathryn’s current research and development work focuses on leadership of place and the importance of creating a sense of place and belonging for young people. With DancePoet TioMolina, she is co-founder of the Art of Possibilities and is developing new forms of community collaboration around place and belonging, designed to harness the creativity and energy of stakeholders around common purpose.


Abstract: The song ‘Deportee’ (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) is about the death of 28 migrant farmers, lost in a plane crash while being deported from California back to Mexico. The victims’ names were never reported, they were merely ‘deportees’. The song was written by the late Woody Guthrie in 1948. It could have easily been written today.

Across the Global North and South social divisions are widening, and the language of exclusion is in the air. Half the world’s refugees are children. Contemporary realities unite North and South around a common challenge:

How to create schools which are places of welcome and belonging for all.

Belonging is that sense of being somewhere where you can be confident that you will fit in and feel safe in your identity. That sense of belonging in school is declining in many countries, with mounting evidence that young people who experience a feeling of exclusion from school or society seek ‘belongingness’ elsewhere.

Kathryn Riley will map some of the consequences of ‘not’ belonging and explore the stories – from North and South – of how schools can strengthen connections between families and communities, and become great places of belonging for children, young people – and adults. Her presentation will be supported by DancePoet TioMolina.


Keynote Speaker 3


Mme Aicha Bah Diallo, Former Minister of Education in Guinea and former Assistant Director General for Education in UNESCO

Title of the keynote: Gender Equity and Youth Empowerment: Maximizing the Global South Demographic Dividend

Thursday, January 9, 2020 13H30-15H00

Biography: Mme Bah Diallo, former minister of education in Guinea and former Assistant Director General for

Education in UNESCO, is member of many national, regional and international NGOs and Foundations working in the field of education, good governance and leadership.

As minister, Mme Bah Diallo pioneered work on lowering barriers to education for the disadvantaged groups, in particular for girls. She is recognized as the leader of educational reforms in Guinea and is highly respected in Africa.

Engaged in the promotion of women and girls’ education all her life, Mme. Bah Diallo is known as «champion of women and girls’ education ». She is the first minister to fight against gender violence at school and initiated the re-entry policy for adolescent mothers.

Mme Bah Diallo has received many distinctions national and international, the « Outstanding Women Leadership Award, Premios Magisterio Protagonistes de la Education 2015, and was of the ten top Most Influential Africans in 2013 and 2014. Private as well as public schools are named after her in Guinea, and one is Senegal.

Abstract: As we gather in an African nation to discuss education and youth inclusive empowerment, it is important to remember that the mission of gender inclusiveness in education still remains unaccomplished. Girl’s education means promoting women empowerment. It gives women a voice and they have choices. They become economically independent, know their rights and know how to claim and protect them. They participate in the life of their community and in politics. Education gives women resilience, promotes health for themselves and for their children, all members of their families. This helps boost the economy of their countries, protect the environment, promote more tolerance, social cohesion, and peace. Moreover, women bring unique perspectives, networks, skills, and abilities into their leadership roles and it influences policy agendas. I will show how these breakthroughs are happening in Africa through examples political leadership examples from Rwanda where women have won 63.8% of seats in the lower house of the parliament and in Ethiopia, where for the first time in Africa a woman President was elected by members of the parliament.


Keynote Speaker 4

Dr. Kouider Mokhtari, Professional affiliation: Anderson-Vukelja-Wright Endowed Chair, Literacy Education, The University of Texas at Tyler

Title of the keynote: The Global Imperative of Investing in Early Childhood Learning: Pathways to Educational Quality and Equity for Young Children Across the Globe

Friday, January 10, 2020 0900-0945


Biography: Kouider Mokhtari, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. (Ohio University, 1987), is the Anderson-Vukelja-Wright Endowed Chair in the School of Education at The University of Texas at Tyler, where he engages in research, teaching, and service initiatives aimed at strengthening instruction practices and improving literacy achievement outcomes.

Kouider’s research focuses on the acquisition of language and literacy by first and second language learners, with particular emphasis on children, adolescents, and adults who can read but have difficulties understanding what they read. His research has been published in books, journals, and reports. One of his books Preparing Every Teacher to Reach English Learners, co-authored with Joyce Nutta and Carine Strebel (Harvard Education Press, 2012) was selected for the 2013 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Outstanding Book Award. The award recognizes exemplary books that make a significant contribution to the knowledge base of educator preparation or of teaching and learning with implications for effectively reaching and teaching English learners across the disciplines.

In 2014, Kouider received the John C. Manning Public School Service Award from the International Reading Association (IRA). This award recognizes a professor of reading education who has demonstrated strong commitment to public education and has spent significant time working with public school teachers and their students in classrooms demonstrating effective approaches and techniques shown to improve reading instruction.

Abstract: Why is it that too many children around the globe continue to lag behind despite significant advances in research, policy, and practice demonstrating that programs which promote the growth and development of young children are the best investments for helping children succeed in school and in life? In this keynote, I argue that it is the great divide between knowledge and action that lies at the heart of what does or does not work relative to educating young children, particularly those who are educationally, linguistically, and economically disadvantaged. I then suggest ways of stimulating cross-sector collaboration and share actionable strategies for developing pathways to educational quality and equity for young children across the globe.