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Bridging Academia and Practice in Education Research in Cambodia

Global Education Colloquium

December 2, 2020
10:00 am - 11:00 am

Kelly Grace, Independent Researcher
Channa Yong, Regional Teacher Education Advisor- VSO
Salav Oul, Teach for Cambodia 

Often academic education research is criticized as difficult to interpret and challenging to implement and, in some cases, deepens inequitable power dynamics between academics, educators, and development practitioners. Conversely practical research can be deemed “messy” or lacking rigor and may not look to answer broad-based complex international issues in education that academics often pursue. Bridging this divide is not a simple task. This panel brings together practitioners and scholars to illuminate the challenges and opportunities for bridging the divide in Comparative and International Education (CIE). Invited panelists include scholars and practitioners who have worked together for several years in a University-NGO partnership between Lehigh University and Caring for Cambodia. The initial partnership sought to develop and implement research, program development, and evaluation in local schools around Siem Reap, but the collaboration continued beyond the initial project. Together, they will discuss their experiences, the methods and strategies they devised, and lessons learned in building a practice/academic bridges in CIE gender research. This panel will illuminate the complexities of working internationally and collaboratively to overcome challenges in contextualization, power dynamics of colonialism and Western hegemony, and practicalities of capacity of both academics and practitioners. While it may seem like an untenable chasm, the panelists see value in working with “the other side,” and present a framework for translating that value into equitable, tangible, and useful collaboration and research.

Dr. Kelly Grace is a research consultant focusing on gender in Comparative and International Education (CIE). She holds a PhD in CIE from Lehigh University and is a Visiting Scholar at Drexel University in the School of Education. Her primary research interest examines barriers related to gender in early childhood education and primary school programs, and she works broadly in the area of gender in education programs in K-12 and university settings. Her contextual area of expertise is in the Cambodian education system, with a particular interest in Chbab Srey, or Rules for Women. Dr. Grace also supports the development of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems for education programs, specializes in project data management and analysis, and develops and implements trainings in both gender and M&E in education settings.

Channa Yong was the Gender Equity Program Manager for Caring for Cambodia. She holds a BA in English Literacy and an MBA from Build Bright University in Siem Reap, Cambodia. She worked on gender equity in schools and community to provide awareness, conduct community dialogue, home visits, counseling, and to update curriculum. She also works on M&E frameworks, translation, helping students find job, and conducts research related to girls' early marriage and pregnancy.

Salav Oul graduated from the Royal University of Phnom Penh Cambodia majoring in Psychology. She received a fellowship award to study in the US for one year at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta in 2019. She currently is a teaching fellow at Teach for Cambodia where she teaches moral-civic education to public high school students with institutions that partner with Teach for Cambodia. She is pursuing her graduate degree in in education at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. She is passionate about women's education and providing a safe environment for young people to be vulnerable and grow by accepting themselves for who they are.