The ECDAN Knowledge Fellows program creates opportunities for early career ECD professionals from the Global South to receive professional development, mentorship, and networking connections while working on a project that advances ECDAN’s learning goals. This program launched in 2021 and is now in its third year. Our goal through this program is to encourage talented professionals to invest in the ECD field and generate new understandings on topics related to ECDAN’s collaborative initiatives.

The 2023 cohort of Knowledge Fellows is now featured below! Please scroll down to learn who was selected and what projects they are undertaking. Applications for the 2024 cohort will open early in the new year.

Steering Committee

The Knowledge Fellows program is managed by ECDAN’s Secretariat with guidance from a steering committee. Knowledge Fellow steering committee members help to select the Fellows and Mentors, shape the design of the program, and assure its quality. Steering committee members are primarily academics specializing in ECD who are experienced working with students to generate new knowledge in the field. They volunteer their time and without their support, and that of the Mentors, this program would not be possible.

Aisha K. Yousafzai
Associate Professor of Global Health at
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Beatrice Matafwali
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology, Sociology and Special Education at the University of Zambia

Elizabeth Lule
Executive Director
at Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN)

Frances E. Aboud (co-chair)
Professor Emerita at McGill University

Joy Millan Maler
Early Childhood Development (ECD) Specialist
at UNICEF Pacific

Kimberly Boller headshot

Kimberly Boller
Senior Director for Science Affairs at the American Psychological Association

Kim Foulds
Vice President, Content Research & Evaluation at Sesame Workshop

Lucy Basset
Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia

Nirmala Rao (co-chair)
Serena H.C. Yang Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education at the The University of Hong Kong

Steve Lye
Executive Director, Alliance for Human Development at the University of Toronto

Learn more about ECDAN’s Knowledge Fellows program by meeting the impressive individuals in the current and past cohorts.

Third Cohort

Duong Vu


Project Outputs: A literature review documenting why early childhood education should be treated as public and common goods which is used to develop a framework on the role of state to ensure early childhood education as public good, especially in LMICs like Viet Nam. Policy recommendations for the Government of Viet Nam if they are to apply the framework.

Duong is a Program Manager for FHI 360’s Alive & Thrive initiative and Chairwoman of the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance in Viet Nam. In this role, Duong represents the network in various government and partner engagements and advocates for breastfeeding-friendly health systems, universal health coverage, and regulations to limit marketing of unhealthy foods. Duong holds a Bachelor of International Economics degree and has received numerous awards and scholarships such as a Fulbright Scholarship and the Quang Ninh Province First Prize Innovation Award for Human Milk Banking. Through the fellowship experience, Duong aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of key issues in the field of early childhood development in the East Asia Pacific Region specifically.

Mentor: Hoa NGHIEM

Independent researcher and educator on human rights-based development

Mubarik Abdul-Rahman


Project Outputs: A repository of system thinking approaches, methodologies, and tools that may be used to achieve ECD outcomes at scale.

Mubarik is a Manager in charge of Governance and Stakeholder Coordination with Lively Minds in Ghana. His current role affords him the opportunity to work closely with high-profile decision-makers at key agencies under Ghana’s Ministry of Education where he provides technical support on ECD and fosters ECD policy formulation and implementation. He has served in other roles at Lively Minds as well, all aimed at bringing multiple stakeholders together and coordinating actions to scale up evidence-based, low-cost ECD interventions. Mubarik holds a Bachelor of Health Science Education degree and a Master of Public Health degree. He is a values-driven public health and development specialist with expertise in early childhood systems measurement and evaluation as well as child and maternal health. Through the fellowship, Mubarik aims to make connections that will enable him to effectively convince stakeholders in sub-saharan Africa to invest in the early years.

Mentor: Margaret B. Hargreaves

Senior Fellow, Health Care Evaluation Affiliate Staff, Center on Equity Research

Noellie Amon-Kotey


Project Outputs: A resource kit of outlining different evidence-based adolescent parenting programs that highlights the strengths and gaps of each and identifies recommended elements for interventions targeting this subset of parents.

Noellie is a Project Coordinator for the For25 Initiative in Ghana. In this role she builds on her six years of experience in research on early childhood and family life at the Child and Family Life Center at Eastern Illinois University and The Child Study Center at the University of Ghana. Noellie uses her keen understanding of the needs and challenges facing young parents and their children to make a difference for young parents in rural areas.Noellie holds a Master of Science degree in Human Services Program Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and Child Studies. She has received multiple awards and recognitions for her achievements, which focus on evidence-based adolescent parenting interventions. Noellie is passionate about creating positive change in the lives of children and families and is committed to advancing research and practice in this field through this fellowship.

Mentor: Tamsen Jean Rochat

Professor in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University

Paul Otwate


Project Outputs: A framework for providing universal childcare for children 0-3 year olds, which addresses gender inequity and promotes social inclusion, with recommendations for legal or policy guidelines for implementing such a framework in both developing and developed economies.

Paul is an Education Research Officer with the African Population and Health Research Center in Kenya. In this role he oversees the organization’s Learning through Play project across three counties. He has over seven years of experience leading the design and delivery of early childhood development as well as middle and adolescent education projects focused on improving outcomes for all children. He has conducted research to better understand the patterns and partnerships that can increase access to nurturing care services for vulnerable families and communities. Paul holds a Master of Early Childhood Education degree. He firmly believes that a holistic, inclusive, enabling, and nurturing environment for all children and caregivers is a prerequisite for increasing human capital and would like to use this fellowship to influence governments to make deliberate investments in ECD.

Rahul Pethe


Project Outputs: A set of guidelines and recommendations for policymakers to follow when seeking to implement and effectively scale parenting programs based on analysis of components which contributed to the success of cross-sectoral parenting interventions in different country contexts.

Rahul is a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Aarambh Early Childhood Development Program in India. In this role, he ensures the effective implementation of interventions aimed at promoting optimal child development, which is a crucial foundation for a child’s lifelong health and well-being. Prior to this, Rahul worked as a clinical pharmacist and public health intern. Rahul holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in social epidemiology. He is committed to promoting health equity and social justice, as he believes that every child deserves access to high-quality childhood programs, regardless of their background or circumstances. Rahul aims to gain connections and resources through the fellowship that will help him to work collaboratively with families, educators, and community stakeholders to create supportive and inclusive environments where all children can thrive.

Mentor: Frances Aboud

Professor Emerita at McGill University

SM Rashedujjaman


Project Outputs: A set of actionable recommendations for policymakers and relevant stakeholders outlining what is needed to provide enhanced support systems for parents and caregivers in challenging circumstances, using the case study of the Rohingya Crisis in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh. The recommendations will include an overview of suggested resources and dimensions that families in crisis need, including mental health resources, educational tools, and community networks.

Rashed is the Technical Manager for ECD with the International Rescue Committee in Bangladesh. In this role, he is at the forefront of developing coordinated ECD models, conducting participatory action research, and providing technical support for proposal development. Previously he worked with Save the Children International in different positions all aimed at promoting mental health and psychological support for children and caregivers. Rashed holds a Master of Education degree in Psychology and Guidance and a Bachelor of Education degree in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. Rashed is a passionate advocate for supporting parents and caregivers, especially in crisis situations. With a specialized focus on psychological first aid and social-emotional learning, he is looking to enhance his ability to design, implement, and evaluate effective ECD interventions that are sensitive to the diverse needs and contexts of families through this fellowship.

Mentor: Tina Hyder

Doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex.

Tanvi Sethi


Project Outputs: An online database of successful parenting programs with unique components from different contexts which is accessible to practitioners and policymakers across the globe via the GISP website.

Tanvi most recently worked as a Programme Specialist with The LEGO Foundation in Denmark. In this role, she led Learning Through Play initiatives by supervising programs, managing grants and partnerships, and leading global initiatives, including the Playful Schools Network and Conference. Her prior experience includes teaching, research, and project management with multilateral organizations, global think tanks, and grassroots organizations based in underserved communities. She interned with UNICEF and UNESCO where she focused on how to make early learning opportunities accessible to children in emergency settings and inclusive for those with learning differences. Prior to that, she was a Teaching Fellow and Content Advisor with Teach for India. Tanvi holds a Master of Science degree in Child Development and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology. Tanvi has personally seen the disparities between countries and contexts where early childhood support programs are resourced and where they are not. Through this fellowship, she is interested in connecting with partners to maximize the number of context-specific, evidence-based, tangible, low-cost, simple, accessible resources that can improve parents’ nurturing practices.

Mentor:  Sabine Rakotomalala

Lead of the Country Engagement for the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, WHO

Second Cohort


Giang Le


Project Outputs: The broad aim of the project is to support service provision and capacity building the field of IDD among service providers, professionals and caregivers who support children with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) in low-resourced settings. View her presentation and her report.

Giang Le is currently working as the Project Officer and Disability Technical Assistant at a local not-for-profit organization based in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. She received a BA in Psychology at Bryn Mawr College and a Master in Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University of South Australia. She has worked as the research assistant in several projects to evaluate the effectiveness of early identification and intervention programs for children with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) in Vietnam and supported the development of training programs to build capacity for health professionals in the field of IDD. She recently completed an independent research project in conceptualization and response to intellectual disability in Vietnam.

Jaqueline Natal

Jaqueline F. Natal


Project Outputs: Understanding the effective expenditure per child in Early Childhood Education by Brazilian municipalities. View her presentation and her report.

Jaqueline is a researcher whose work focuses on understanding the impact of Early Childhood Education on learning and child development with a focus on quality ECE in Brazil. She has five years of experience in researching Early Childhood at the Laboratory of Studies and Research in Social Economics – University of São Paulo (LEPES-USP). The main activities that she held at the LEPES were focused on quantitative analysis, which involved the leadership of the Early Childhood agenda. In addition, she was the coordinator and manager of the development of the First Early Childhood Education Monitoring System in Brazil working with a multidisciplinary team such as policymakers, psychologists, economists, developers, and educators. Jaqueline is also the co-author of the study “Cost of Inaction of the Early Childhood Programs for Brazil” contracted by ECDAN and has presented her work to a variety of audiences including the National authorities and UNICEF. She holds an M. Sc. in Applied Economics and a Bachelor in Economic Sciences from the University of São Paulo.

Pema Thinley


Project Outputs: Status of Pre-Primary sub-sector in Bhutan: Using Pre-primary sub-sector analysis tool. The project aims to study the status, gaps, challenges, strengths and weaknesses of the pre-primary sub sector in Bhutan.  View his  presentation and his report.

Pema is currently serving as an Assistant Program Officer under ECCD and SEN Division, Ministry of Education. He has a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Bachelors in Environment and Climate Studies. As a program officer he has to ensure access and quality of ECCD programs in the country, monitor and evaluate programs, professionalize the early educators, supply teaching and learning materials and facilitate construction of ECCD Centres and encourage private participation in the ECCD program.

Aanchal Kapur

Aanchal Kapur


Project Outputs: Research and develop a narrative review on Understanding Systems Thinking from an Early Childhood Development Perspective. View her presentation and her report.

Aanchal is an ECDE professional and has engaged in projects focused on eliminating the disparity in accessing quality Early learning services and building Foundational learning and numeracy skills in children living in under-resourced communities of India and Africa. She holds a master of Early Childhood Care and Education from Ambedkar University, Delhi and a B.Sc. in Human Development and Childhood Studies from Delhi University. Aanchal has worked with Oxfam India’s inequality campaign team in documenting evidence of inequality in accessing quality early learning services by children living in remote regions of India. Currently, as an Early Childhood Education Associate at Pratham Education Foundation, she contributes to the organization’s work in the early years.

Sai Durgeshwari Rajandiran


Project Outputs: Research, design, and development of a knowledge platform on global parenting programs from infancy to adolescence. View her presentation and the knowledge hub.

Sai Durgeshwari is an early career professional with interests in child development, caregiver-child relationships, and education programme management. She holds a master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Presently, Durgesh is based in Malaysia as an evaluation specialist for a global education consultancy, Cognition Learning Group. She previously trained as an academic researcher in laboratories at UCLA Linguistics and Harvard Psychology to study the acquisition and processing of languages in both children and adults.

Bethlehem Girma

Bethlehem Girma


Project Outputs: Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Costing Initiatives. The project aims at researching and designing a knowledge repository on costing initiatives and tools for early childhood education. View her presentation and report.

Bethlehem is a researcher and Early Childhood Action Network 2022 Knowledge Fellow. Her project as a Knowledge Fellow focuses on conducting a Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Costing Initiatives. Bethlehem areas of work also encompass climate-induced migration and social protection, microfinance, micro insurance, value chain finance, market systems development, and climate change education. She holds a master’s of Science in Development Practice from Trinity College Dublin and a second master’s in Accounting and Finance from Addis Ababa University. Bethlehem is currently a research assistant at Ryan Institute the University of Galway, and previously worked at UNICEF NYHQ (consultant on Climate Education), DAI (Access to Finance Intervention Manager), and Adama University (Lecturer).

First Cohort

Denise Bonsu


Project Outputs: Global COVID-19 Knowledge Platform on Home Visiting Programmes

Denise is an international development practitioner with an interest in early childhood development, maternal and child health, and Francophone Africa. As a Senior Program Associate for Results for Development (R4D), Ms. Bonsu worked extensively with the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI) to increase the global knowledge base on early childhood development and provide decision-makers with the tools and resources with which to support the early childhood workforce at scale. Under ECWI, Ms. Bonsu conducted rigorous qualitative research on Ecuador’s efforts to professionalize the early childhood workforce and co-authored a country brief that summarized the findings. She also co-developed a Home Visiting Workforce Needs Assessment Tool to enable policymakers to prioritize areas of focus for supporting community health workers in their countries, and piloted the tool in Siaya County, Kenya. Ms. Bonsu holds a master’s degree in international development and international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a BA in economics and sociology from the College of William and Mary. She speaks English and French.

Keisha Constantino


Project outputs: Early Childhood Care and Development Responsiveness Local Government Unit Assessment Tool (ERLAT)

Keisha is a faculty member at the Department of Family Life and Child Development, College of Home Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman where teaches undergraduate courses in Child Development from Prenatal Stage to Middle Childhood, Management of Programs for Preschool Children, and Home Management. She is also a candidate for Masters in Public Administration from the National College of Public Administration and Governance from the same University (to be conferred Jan 2022). Keisha studies the governance and administration of early childhood policies and programs, and is engaged in projects with children, families, practitioners and government working in the field of ECD.

Jorge Cuartas


Project outputs: Global Review on Interventions to Reduce Corporal Punishment in Low-and-Middle-Income Countries – Policy Brief and Research Paper

Jorge is a Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a member of the SEED lab, graduate student affiliate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Science and Innovation Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child (2020-2021), Knowledge Fellow at the Early Childhood Action Network (ECDAN; 2020-2021), member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for The Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People, consultant at UNICEF Latin America & Caribbean, and co-director of Apapacho Colombia. Jorge’s research focuses on early childhood development and parenting in global contexts, the effects of corporal punishment and other forms of violence on children’s neural, cognitive, and socioemotional development, and the development and evaluation of violence prevention programs and policies. He holds an Ed.M in Human Development & Psychology from Harvard University, M.Sc. in Economics from Universidad de los Andes, and a B.Sc in Economics from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano.

Carlota Nelson


Project outputs: Online Open Source Library of Early Learning Community Radio Programmes.

Carlota is an accomplished Spain-based filmmaker and director of the groundbreaking feature documentary, Brain Matters, a film that explores the development of the brain in early childhood. She is a member of The Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain, and of the Steering Committee at Karanga – The Global Alliance for SEL and Life Skills –. Her documentary work has spanned global social and cultural topics, including art and apartheid in South Africa, censorship in Kuala Lumpur, and recidivism in America’s women’s prisons. Nelson’s first feature documentary, Anclados, premiered across Europe in 2010 to significant acclaim. The film tells the story of the crew of a Russian trawler quarantined in a Spanish port following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Tashar Simasiku


Project outputs: Multisectoral Approaches to Nurturing Care Programmes: A case study of opportunities and challenges in Zambia

Tashar holds a Master of Science Degree in Education from Texila American University Graduate School of Education, a Master of Science Degree in Project Management from the University of Bolton, and a BA in Education from the University of Zambia. She is a development practitioner with a passion for Early Childhood Development and Education. Ms. Simasiku has over 10 years of experience in the Management of Early childhood Education programs in Zambia and has actively participated in various national platforms on Early Childhood Education that are focused on increasing access to quality Early Learning and Primary Education services. As Education Advisor for VVOB Education for Development, Tashar’s role contributes to enhancing policy development and implementation through strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Education in Zambia to deliver quality services equitable.

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