Keynote Speakers

Our conference is proud to present the following distinguished keynote speakers:
Dr. Diane Hirshberg

Diane Hirshberg is Director and Professor of Education Policy at the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, and Vice-President Academic for UArctic. Her research interests include education policy, Indigenous and circumpolar education, and the role of education in sustainable development in the Arctic. She co-edited the book Education, Equity and Inclusion: Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable North, published in 2023, which features her co-authored chapter “Adaptation isn’t just for the tundra: Rethinking teaching and learning in Alaska’s Arctic.” Her current work focuses on the role of education and knowledge sharing in self-determined sustainable development in remote villages and in supporting community efforts to build energy security and sustainability in northern and Indigenous communities. Dr. Hirshberg teaches in the Master of Public Policy Program at UAA. She has a Ph.D. in Education from UCLA, an MPA from Columbia University, and two BAs from UC Berkeley.

"Decolonizing and Indigenizing teaching in Alaska"
In Alaska, the legacy of colonization continues to drive the structure of schools and the practice of teaching. While efforts to incorporate culturally responsive teaching practices and to adopt more relevant curriculum have been underway for years, there has been little change in the fundamental structure of schools and in the day-to-day practices of educators, and outcomes for Indigenous students continue to lag behind those of their non-Native counterparts. In this talk, I will discuss how current educational practices reflect the history of the state schooling system in Alaska and its intended purposes, from territorial days through the residential schooling era to the present. I will then address efforts to decolonize and Indigenize teaching practices across the state, and discuss both promising practices and the challenges faced by those working to reimagine teaching in an Indigenous and Northern context.


Dr. Jeremiah M. Kalai

Jeremiah M. Kalai holds a PhD in Educational Administration and Evaluation from University of Pune (2007). He also Master of Educational Administration and Planning (University of Nairobi); which was pursued under University of Nairobi scholarship. Prof. Kalai pursued a Bachelor of Education (Arts, Hons), University of Nairobi and thereafter started his career as an educator in a High School; transferred his services to a national institute as a Management Trainer (training high school principals, Heads of Departments, Deputies and other Educational managers) in Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI). He joined University teaching in 2008 after a short stint in Management Consultancy Services where he served as a Principal Research and Development Officer in a government Ministry. Currently, Prof. Kalai is the Dean, Faculty of Education at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Reimagining teacher Education for our Future: Trends from Africa
The idea of re-imagining teacher education is informed by a plethora of dynamics; both internal and external to the Teacher Education Institutions. Before the advent of the COVID-19, the vast majority of teachers and teacher education institutions had predictable and conventional academic programmes dispensed in a predictable manner (mostly in physical spaces with all students in physical attendance). The educational landscape however changed radically and both educators and trainees found themselves grappling with new educational terrains that involved adoption of technologies in curriculum implementation, assessment and evaluation. Central to this discussion is the question or questions: what are we re-imagining and why? It would be prudent to re-imagine the curriculum of teacher education so that it is in tandem with 21st century industry and skill demands. It is also important to re-imagine pedagogical approaches, institutional change, financing of education, access and equity in education; teacher trainees’ campus experience, postgraduate thesis supervision and completion rates; raining and completion rates; stakeholder involvement in decision making, governance of educational institutions and stakeholder voice in institutional governance. The place of databased decision making also becomes a point of possible discourse. Moreover, a need exists to re-imagine how best to create communities of learning, re-think the role of action research in education and seek to harvest from the global best practices in re-tooling of educators in the framework of competence-based teacher education and training. In the same vein, re-imagining education should also focus on educational management, leadership, policy and law as well as the role of science, technology, environmental sustainability and the role of education in achievement of Africa 2063 agenda.

Dr. Ritva Reinikka

Ritva Reinikka is Senior Fellow (development economics) at the Helsinki Graduate School of Economics, based at Aalto University School of Business, Finland. She is also a Special Adviser to the European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms. Urpilainen. Ms. Reinikka worked at the World Bank in 1993-2013 where her assignments included Director of the 2004 World Development Report Making Services Work for Poor People; Country Director for Southern Africa, based in Pretoria; Director for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management in the Middle East and North Africa region; and Director for Human Development in the Africa region. Ms. Reinikka holds a Doctor Philosophy (DPhil) in Economics from the University of Oxford.

On Education Systems and Teaching in Developing Countries
School enrolment has massively increased worldwide, but millions of children spend years in school without gaining foundational skills in reading, writing and numeracy. The pace at which children learn per year of schooling remains far too slow. Many discontinue their schooling because they are not learning. In this talk, I will discuss research findings on systems of education in low- and middle-income countries. A growing body of research is investigating education systems with the aim of understanding not just individual interventions that can improve outcomes, but how the overall system can be transformed to achieve more learning for all students. How to make the systems of education coherent with student learning? How can the education system support teachers and their professional development to master the craft of teaching for more and faster learning. I will also highlight issues of education finance today, how the craft of teaching is being diagnosed empirically at the school level in nationally representative surveys, and what we have learned from these diagnoses regarding teaching and student learning.

Anita Lehikoinen, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education and Culture

Ms. Anita Lehikoinen was appointed Permanent Secretary of Finland's Ministry of Education and Culture on 1 May 2013. Permanent Secretary directs the activities of the Ministry together with the Ministers. The duties include monitoring of the preparation of matters at the Ministry and attending to the internal activities of the Ministry. Anita Lehikoinen has been employed with the Finnish Ministry of Education since 1989. Prior to her current position, she served as Director General in the Ministry, in charge of higher education and science policy development. She has also worked in the field of higher education, and was responsible for the implementation of the Bologna process in Finland and internationalisation strategy for higher education, among other things. She has also been involved in work to reform the steering system of Finnish universities. Ms Lehikoinen has served in many national and European committees in the field of higher education, research and internationalisation.

Anita Lehikoinen is the ceremonial speaker of the conference.