Non-Executive Director

Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly

Board Member, UK National Commission Board of Directors – Education

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Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly is an expert in education, contributing to the progress of UNESCO’s fight for education to be recognised as a human right through his role as Board Member for the UK National Commission. He works to improve child literacy, access to books, education in emergencies and the quality of refugee education.

Joseph is an education specialist, with two decade’s worth of experience working internationally and extensive knowledge on the role of education in human rights campaigns. He has lived and worked in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, with the former in his capacity as the Head of Education Policy & Advocacy at Save the Children, the world’s largest independent children’s rights organisation. He was elected to represent civil society on the new board of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and chaired the Strategy and Policy Committee where he oversaw a range of important developments including a new funding window for countries in crisis and the Partnership’s first gender equality policy and strategy.

Joseph was also a key member of the design team for Education Cannot Wait, the world’s first global fund for education in emergencies, where he served on its Executive Committee. He is the founding Chair of the Global Book Alliance, a multi-stakeholder initiative working to transform book development, procurement and distribution to ensure that no child is without books and has  co-chaired the preparatory committee for the High-Level Meeting on Action for Refugee Education at the 2018 UN General Assembly. Amongst other achievements, Joseph has also Directed the Promising Practices in Refugee Education initiative and held various leadership roles in the education sector in the UK; including within Send My Friend to School, the umbrella body for UK based civil society organisation’s working on education globally.


Global Book Alliance
Founding Chair

Since 2017


Victoria University, BA. University of East London, LLM.

1996 -1998 and 2002-2003

Role at UNESCO

Member of the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Board of Directors

Since 2018

“During my seven-year term on the GPE board — the last four as chair of the board’s Strategy & Policy Committee — I worked with colleagues on various reforms. This included the creation of a new mechanism designed to provide speedy support to countries affected by emergencies, or in need of funding to support early recovery. I’m proud of that work, but it didn’t resolve the panoply of wider challenges for education in emergency situations.”

Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly, writing an opinion piece for

Liaising with the UK’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and approved by HM government, our Non-Executive Directors help steer the direction of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, and are each responsible for overseeing a particular field of UNESCO’s work in the UK.


Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly is a member of the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Board of Directors, providing expertise upon the subject of education as a human right.


UK National Commission for UNESCO
Board Member, Education

From 2018

Save The Children UK
Head of Education Policy and Advocacy (amongst other roles)

From 2010 -2020

Global Book Alliance

Since 2017

Role at UNESCO

Member of the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Board of Directors, Education

Since 2018


The UK National Commission for UNESCO


UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is the United Nations body responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. The UKNC is a hub for all UNESCO-related matters in the UK, and the Board of Directors take part in formulating and regularly reviewing the strategic aims of the commission.