How are you involved in Education in Emergencies work?
I have spent the last decade working in the Education in Emergencies (EiE) field. I work with the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) which is made up of education partners working in the field of accelerated education. These are flexible, age-appropriate programmes, run in an accelerated time frame, which aim to provide access to education for disadvantaged, over-age, out-of-school children and youth – particularly those who missed out on, or had their education interrupted due to poverty, marginalisation, conflict, and crisis. Adolescents and young people are routinely under-prioritized in humanitarian contexts, which is why accelerated education and youth programming in general are so critical to helping young people continue their education trajectories.
My other passion in EiE is highlighting the need to diversify the sector and address the prevalence of structural racism. This year, I launched my own consultancy firm, Equity-Based EiE Consulting, with the mission to support individuals, organisations, networks and academic institutions to design and deliver programmes and research centered around equity-based and decolonial frameworks.
I am also doing a Ph.D. programme exploring diverse adolescents and youths’ experiences of contemporary education in emergencies responses, and how colonial narratives on ‘educability’, power inequities, and racism continue to permeate the types and ways that education programmes are designed, funded, and implemented.
How did your experience as a Teach First teacher inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
My experiences as a fellow taught me so much! As a first-year teacher, I experienced a steep learning curve to manage a demanding workload and develop relationships with parents, teachers, and the wider school community while at the same time learning how to develop schemes of work and lesson plans. This first- hand experience of being a classroom teacher was invaluable later on in the EiE sector, where I have been involved in different projects that aim to support teachers in crisis contexts.
I really enjoyed the Teach First summer institute seminars that focused on the technical skills of teacher training, however I was most inspired by shadowing different teachers. For example, my friend and fellow Teach First colleague Mahlon Sinclair taught a fantastic history module where he reframed the teaching of the enslavement of Africans in the UK curriculum to one that focused on narratives of resistance and cultural wealth. Throughout my EiE career, I have always tried to integrate and emphasize creative and culturally-sustaining asset-based approaches into my work, but recognize that as a sector, EIE (including practitioners like myself) are far behind wider calls to decolonize and learn from indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing.
What have you learned from working in Education in Emergencies?
From my work in emergency contexts, I have learnt that young people are leading incredible grassroots initiatives, from peer-teaching to students organizing and forming alliances and coalitions to try to continue their education and address challenges. In South Sudan, I met young people who organized student councils to advocate for improved education services in refugee camps; in the Central African Republic, I worked with young people who conducted an action research project on sexual and gender-based violence in schools and then presented their findings to international non-governmental organizations and the Ministry of Education. Most recently, I’ve been working with young people in Jordan, who have highlighted that African refugees have fewer higher education scholarship opportunities. Unfortunately, far too often young people are not included in the design and delivery of EiE programmes and those of us in the sector must do more to challenge this.
What advice do you have for other network alumni interested in humanitarian roles?
I would advise anyone looking to work in the humanitarian sector to first self-reflect on their positionality (relative to privilege and/or oppression) in all aspects of their identities (e.g., race, class, gender, nationality, caste, religion, language, dis/ability) and consider how this influences their way of seeing and understanding the world and, importantly, their desire to work in the EiE space.
How has your work in Education in Emergencies influenced your future career plans?
After a decade working in the field, I want to share what I have learned with others. In January 2022, I will be launching an online Equity-Based Research and Programme Design membership for anyone interested in embedding equity-based design thinking and decolonial methods into their practice. I’m really excited to be pulling together people from all over the world—including academics, practitioners, and forcibly displaced students currently pursuing their higher education in camps—to come together, learn, collaborate, and create inclusive projects. For more information, check out my website www.jessoddy.com
Current EiE work
Accelerated Education Working
Director and Founder of
Equity-Based EiE Consulting
Previous EiE work
Save the Children, War Child UK,
Lutheran World Federation, African Refugee
Development Centre, UNHCR