UNESCO Chair on Transforming Knowledge and Research for Just and Sustainable Futures (formerly Chair in Inclusive and Quality Education for All)

University of Bristol – Professor Leon Tikly

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Access to an inclusive good quality education for all is crucial for realising sustainable livelihoods in prosperous, peaceful, diverse and democratic societies.

Unfortunately, millions of learners are still denied access to education across the globe, creating huge societal imbalances concerning prejudices based upon class, race, ethnicity, gender and disability. The University of Bristol chair works with policy makers, practitioners, community-based organisations and the research community in the global North and South to develop the capacity and leadership urgently required in order to ensure an inclusive good quality education for all.

Chair Themes




Related Chair

UNESCO Chair in Education for Peace and International Understanding

Instituto Superior San José de Calasanz


“The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the importance of UNESCO and of my UNESCO chair in ensuring an inclusive, good quality education for all.”

Professor Leon Tikly

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.


Led by Professor Leon Tikly, the Chair is based in the Centre for International and Comparative Education (CIRE) at the University of Bristol. The work that they carry out involves collaboration with a vast network of international peers throughout South Africa, Rwanda, Somalia, India, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the Netherlands. A key objective of the Chair is to undertake innovative research to increase access to a good quality education. Leon and his team have held successful capacity building and networking events in Bristol as well as in Rwanda on proposal writing, research methods and writing for publication.

The work of the Chair has focused on Higher Education in the UK and indeed within the University of Bristol itself. This has involved organising a university wide workshop and ongoing work on decolonising the curriculum with the aim of making higher education in Bristol and the UK more diverse and inclusive. It has also involved engaging our Southern partners in a highly successful workshop in January 2020 on the role of higher education in the climate emergency.


The key focus of Professor Tikly’s research is education in low-income countries and in particular countries of sub-Saharan Africa. He also has a long established interest in the achievement of BAME learners at risk of underachieving in the United Kingdom and Europe. Research projects that he has undertaken as a result include evaluations of key government initiatives (such as the Aiming High: Raising Black Caribbean Achievement project) and on understanding the educational needs of mixed heritage learners.

The theoretical questions that underpin Leon’s work include “How do we conceptualise education for sustainable development as an aspect of the ‘postcolonial condition’?” and “What is the impact of globalisation on the low income world?.”

Professor Leon Tikly

Leon Tikly is Professor in Education at the University of Bristol and co-directs the Centre for International and Comparative Education (CIRE) in the School of Education. Initially starting his career as a science teacher, he has taught throughout London as well as abroad in Morocco and Tanzania.

Leon worked as a policy researcher at the Education Policy Unit, University of the Witwatersrand during the transition period between apartheid and democracy in South Africa. It was here that he drove the formulation of their new education policies on a national level.

Leon’s skills and experiences both within schools and as a policymaker means that he has a unique perspective and network of collaborators. He still teaches at postgraduate level on the Med (Master of Education), and regularly in Hong Kong as part of Bristol’s EdD Programme.


University of Bristol
Professor in Education


University of Glasgow

Role at UNESCO

UNESCO Chair on Transforming Knowledge and Research for Just and Sustainable Futures (formerly UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Good Quality Education For All)

Since 2019


Read about some of the projects that Leon has played a crucial role within throughout his career.


Throughout his extensive career, Leon has made vital contributions to the decolonisation of education across the globe.