Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers at PALFA 2023 Conference

Speaker 1

Sara Ruto, Ph.D

Dr. Sara Ruto is the Program Officer at Echidna Giving. She is the immediate former Chief Executive Officer of the People's Action for Learning (PAL) Network. Her career in the field of education and policy implementation spans over 30 years. Since 2009, she has headed different organizations and has proven leadership, financial and human management competencies. She has governance skills, having been trained and also served as the Chairperson of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) among other organizations.

More recently, she worked in the Government of Kenya as the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Education where her key responsibility was to steer policy implementation. She has wide experience in managing large scale multi-country programs whose evidence has impacted national and international policies in literacy and numeracy. She has initiated, fundraised for and supported the growth of several organizations whose core mandate is to gather evidence to improve learning outcomes in the Global South.

Before her role at Echidna Giving and the Ministry of Education, Sara initiated UWEZO in Kenya in 2009 and served as the Country Coordinator, before moving on to become the Regional Manager of Uwezo East Africa at Twaweza. Uwezo was a citizen-driven initiative that used evidence to draw public attention to children’s learning in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Sara has actively participated in national and global education and used evidence to justify the need for learning and competence-based education. She has published widely in academic journals and blogs as avenues for influencing and framing educational trends and infusing a Global South perspective. She has participated in many events as a Keynote Speaker and is an avid educational researcher with specific strengths in the qualitative research paradigm. She has been invited to many Boards and Advisory Committees to contribute to governance. She chairs several entities on educational reform and policy implementation. Dr. Sarah Ruto holds a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg (Germany), a Master of Education and a Bachelors Degree in Education from Kenyatta University, (Kenya).

Speaker 2

T.J. D’Agostino, Ed.D

T.J. D’Agostino, Ed.D. is is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Keough School of Global Affairs housed within the Pulte Institute for Global Development at the University of Notre Dame. He is also a Fellow of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Educational Initiatives. He has worked at the intersection of research, policy, and practice in educational development for nearly 20 years.

TJ D’Agostino’s scholarship focuses on comparative education policy and an examination of systems and institutions and their role in improving educational outcomes for vulnerable children in low- and middle-income contexts. His scholarship and policy and practice engagement focus on the role and contributions of faith-based institutions and how they fit within comparative policy contexts and school and systems improvement with an emphasis on language, literacy, inclusion, and at-risk youth.

His research has examined the role of faith-based educational institutions in Africa and Latin America and explored how the institutional context shapes and influences the institutional character and contributions of faith-based education. The other major strand in his research and policy engagement is in the area of systems improvement and educational policy in low-resource settings, with a focus on vulnerable children, foundational skills development, and systems-improvement. His recent work in this area focuses on language in education policy and its intersection with foundational literacy and implementation research exploring how to improve the consistent impact of promising interventions to improve student outcomes at scale.

He currently is a co-Principal Investigator USAID-funded global education research grant called SHARE (Supporting Holistic and Actionable Research in Education). Under SHARE, D’Agostino is the Principal Investigator of the “Language of Instruction Transitions in Education Systems” (LITES) study, a multi-country study working in five African countries and the Philippines. He is also the Principal Investigator of the Deaf Education Language of Instruction Transitions in Education Systems (DELITES) study, a study working in three countries focused on language and literacy outcomes for learners who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Previously, he founded and co-led Notre Dame’s educational engagements in Haiti from 2010 to 2020, during which time he helped grow programs and research in early grade reading, teacher training, and systems strengthening, which has produced the most successful literacy interventions in Haiti and a vital set of programs to drive research and practice in the Haitian context. He received his doctorate in Education Leadership and Policy from the Peabody School of Education from Vanderbilt University and his B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame.

Speaker 3

Teresa Mwoma, Ph.D

Dr. Teresa Mwoma is the Executive Director African Council for Distance Education since October 2020 seconded by Kenyatta University. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Needs Education Kenyatta University. Before Joining ACDE, Dr. Mwoma was managing higher education in emergencies for refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya as a Coordinator Kenyatta University Dadaab Centre. Previously, Dr. Mwoma worked as a Director International Centre for Capacity Development Kenyatta University, coordinating capacity development initiatives for government and non-government organizations/agencies in Kenya. She is the founder and National Coordinator, ECD Network for Kenya coordinating ECD initiatives in Kenya.

Dr. Mwoma has mentored over 40 graduate students who have graduated with their Masters and PhDs in early childhood studies. She is a Research Associate University of Johannesburg under the South African Research Chair Education and Care in Childhood. Dr. Mwoma has a wide experience in research and consultancy in early childhood care, education and child protection. she is a DAAD scholar who holds a Ph. D in Early Childhood Studies from Kenyatta University. She also successfully completed a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Education and Care in Childhood from University of Johannesburg South Africa.

She was a Visiting Scholar at University of Agder where she facilitated seminars for Faculty and graduate students in February 2020. Besides that, Dr. Mwoma is the Kenya Country Coordinator for the European Early Childhood Education Research Association since 2015. She has conducted over 20 studies focusing on early childhood education. Her research interest focuses on Nurturing Care in Early Childhood Development, Policy, The Girl Child, Capacity Building, Adolescent Mothers, Orphans and Vulnerable Children as well as Open, Distance and e-Learning.