ABOUT ME

I am a writer working from home (which is Edinburgh for half the year, and the small hamlet of Chak Aarfi, Uttar Pradesh, India, for the other half of the year). My book, Low-Fee Private Schooling and Poverty in Developing Countries will be released by Bloomsbury Academic in January 2021, and I have just begun next writing project.

 

Until the end of 2019 I was an independent researcher doing studies in Sub-Saharan Africa for various independent foundations and development organisations. I have specialised on low-fee private schooling for the poor since conducting my doctoral study which examined whether these schools were accessible to the poor in rural Uttar Pradesh (although I have done work on many other aspects of education as well). I have visited hundreds of schools in the informal settlements (or slums) of Abuja, Lagos, Accra, Abidjan, Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Maputo. I have also done research in the villages and small towns of Central Region, Ghana, and Kwara State, Nigeria (I lived in Kwara for nearly three years). I have had the privilege to do yet other work in Liberia, Malawi and Kenya and have directed a study in Lusaka (but sadly couldn't accompany my fieldwork team on that study).

My most important work so far has been conducting (with DFID funding) the only comprehensive private school census ever carried out in a mega-city: Lagos, Nigeria. At the time (2010), the government thought they had about 4,000 private schools. With a team of 260 people drawn from civil society, private school associations, and the Ministry of Education, we combed every street and back alley of the city (and state) to find 12,098. This figure is often cited, and forms the basis of all estimates of the current number of private schools in the state. Some think there may be as many as 18,000 schools by this time. The data was instrumental in beginning to bring about a change of perspective on the private schooling sector on the part of the state government. Private school associations members told me in 2016 that this work meant a material positive change in their situations. The basic census report can be found on my Research Reports page.

Lastly, I am always living vicariously through my husband's experiences and frustrations of running a school that was all charitable when we started it as naive young people in July 2004, but through economic necessity is now part-charitable (for our poor students) and part fee-paying (for better-off families who want to enrol their girls because it is a good, safe school). It is a daily struggle and I have learned so much from him, through his work and experiences. And I continue to learn and learn from every interview I am in, at every low-fee private school or household that I visit during my research. 

EDUCATION

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Low-fee private schooling for the poor

The struggles of parents to educate their children, in rural villages and urban informal settlements

 

2004 - 2008

University of Sussex, Centre for International Education

DPhil - International Education

Early childhood education

The importance of supporting children from the start

Empire and Colonialism

The impact that the British Empire has had on South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of identity, society and education. 

Human rights

And the right to education; labour rights; housing rights 

2000 - 2001

University of Essex

LLM - International Human Rights Law

1999 - 2000

College of Law of England and Wales

Post-graduate Diploma in Law

1995 - 1999

University of St Andrews

MA (hons) - Modern History

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