Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation

University of East Anglia – Professor Anna Robinson-Pant

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The team at UEA are working to understand how we might improve adult literacy and learning programmes in the Global South.

Universal primary education has led to remarkable improvements in literacy rates, making a real difference to the livelihoods and wellbeing of marginalised communities. Yet worldwide, 750+ million people have difficulty reading and writing. It is clear that there is still an urgent need to improve adult learning programmes, especially for women.


? Education
? Literacy
? Arts


UNESCO Chair on Adult Education

Vrije Universiteit Brussel



“Over the years, I have wondered how we could ever shift the dominant development approach, where so-called ‘illiterate’ poor women are preached to about the benefits of reading and writing. But now I am optimistic that learning together through the UNESCO Chair, we can contribute new ways of doing literacy which are bottom-up, purposeful and relevant to people’s lives!”

Professor Anna Robinson-Pant

UNESCO Chairs are based within Institutes for Higher Education and specialise in specific research fields. They provide policy advice to the UK National Commission for UNESCO and HM government, as well as reviewing UNESCO applications.


This UNESCO Chair aims to develop understanding about how adult
learning can help address inequalities in the poorest communities of
the world. Through investigating how or why adult literacy might
facilitate or respond to processes of social transformation, including
women’s empowerment, the Chair sets out to strengthen the
interaction between researchers, policy makers and programme
participants. The distinctive feature of this UNESCO Chair is sharing
experiences and insights across South-North and South-South.

The UEA UNESCO Chair is an international partnership with university
departments specialising in adult literacy and community learning in
Ethiopia (Bahir Dar University), Malawi (University of Malawi), Nepal
(Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Center for Educational
Innovation and Development) and the Philippines (University of Santo
Tomas). We share a commitment to developing innovative and
‘bottom-up’ approaches to adult literacy research, capacity
strengthening and policy initiatives.


Whether in Norwich or Bahir Dar, Anna and her team carry out research projects that have responded to local agendas for change. As Anna further explains, “we take a participatory approach to developing research, engaging practitioners and policy makers in debate and action around adult literacy and intercultural learning.

The Chair has also taken forward theoretical understanding in the areas of
literacy, gender and indigenous learning.

Holding regular Literacy Day conferences to help to bridge the
gap between policy, research and practice, Amma and her team work to highlight ways in which universities can support adult literacy and learning. UNESCO Chair Literacy Days were held in Egypt (2017), Nepal (2018), Ethiopia (2019) and the Philippines (2019). As well as facilitating research collaboration, these events have led to new networks, such as establishment of the Ethiopian Association of Adult Education and TRANSFORMARE in the Philippines.

Professor Anna Robinson-Pant

Anna Robinson-Pant is a Professor of Education at the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, UEA and has dedicated her career to developing education tools for empowerment.

Further to her academic research, Anna acted as Editor for the Journal ‘Compare’ between 2004 and 2010. Here she worked to cross-examine learning experiences from different cultures in order to overcome the publication barriers that researchers from the global south are often subjected to. She also runs workshops based on an academic literacies approach, participatory research training, and symposia for journal editors to strengthen research capacity in the universities where chair members are based across the globe.


University of East Anglia
Professor of Education

SINCE 2000


University of East Anglia

#Role at UNESCO

Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation

SINCE 2014



Read about some of the many projects that Professor Robinson-Pant has been a part of during her career.



Read about the work of Anna and her team, within the adult literacy and lifelong learning sector, below.


INTERNATIONAL DAY International Migrants Day 18.12 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   December 18 We celebrate the International Migrants Day on December 18. READ MORE BELOW MIGRANTS DAY Photo credit, from top to bottom: Nicola Fioravanti, UNESCO Migration is a global phenomenon driven by many forces. These start with aspirations for…
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INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day of Persons with Disabilities 03.12 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   December 3 We celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. READ MORE BELOW DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES Photo credit, from top to bottom: Nathan Anderson, Arisa Chattasa. The annual observance of the…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 29.11 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   November 29 We celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29. READ MORE BELOW SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE Photo credit, from top to bottom: Ahmed Abu Hameeda, Cole-Keister.…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25.11 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   November 25 We celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. READ MORE BELOW END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Photo credit, from top to bottom: United Nations, Karl…
Read More


“The UNESCO Chair has given way to new partnerships and collaborations with NGOs, government agencies, and other UNESCO partner institutions. This has opened the gates for the integration of adult literacy and learning in certificate programs, education curriculum and community engagement activities.”

Professor Robinson Pant


#Education #LifelongLearning


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