Global Webinar: Knowledge to Action – Translating knowledge to inform policies and enhance the delivery of effective ECD services and interventions
Date: Thursday October 21, 2021
Time: 08:00 (EST) | 12:00 (GMT) | 13:00 (CET) | 15:00 (EAT) | 17:30 (IST)
Location: Online

Evidence shows that playful parenting enhances the interaction between child and caregiver. It is also well acknowledged that play and communication are critical for children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. While considerable evidence has been generated in recent years on what works to ensure that children have a strong start to life, gaps remain in ensuring the use of such knowledge for informed decision-making by varied audiences, from policymakers to frontline workers. This has contributed to a large number of children failing to meet their developmental potential, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Through the Scaling Up Playful Parenting Initiative, AKU IHD, in collaboration with UNICEF, with the support of the LEGO Foundation and the Aga Khan Foundation, has established an ECD Workforce Hub. One of the key mandates of the Hub is translating scientific research and technical resources into accessible materials for specific target audiences including, but not limited to, policymakers, frontline workers, program practitioners, and parents/caregivers.

On October 21st 2021, ECD implementers and researchers came together for a discussion about translating knowledge to inform policy and practice. The webinar looked at what knowledge translation means, barriers, facilitators, and opportunities for translating knowledge to practice, and what is currently being done to address existing gaps.


Prof. Amina Abubakar — Professor & Director, Institute for Human Development, Aga Khan University.
Prof. Amina Abubakar is a Senior Research Scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Welcome Trust Research Programme and Visiting Academic at the University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry. She is a trained Developmental Psychologist with more than 18 years of research experience working in rural settings in Kenya within multidisciplinary teams. She is interested in both acquired and congenital brain disorders. She has more than 18 years of experience developing assessment tools and describing the neurocognitive and mental health outcomes for children exposed to multiple risk factors. She has (co)-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She has been humbled to receive awards from various organizations including the American Psychological Society and the Royal Society of UK in recognition for her work in Africa.

Dr. Sadaf Shallwani — Director of Learning and Evaluation, Firelight Foundation.
Dr. Sadaf Shallwani seeks to work alongside people and communities to create and use knowledge for social justice. She conducts and facilitates participatory research and knowledge generation from Global South perspectives in the areas of early childhood development, primary education, child rights, and the effectiveness of grassroots civil society. Sadaf serves as Director of Learning and Evaluation at Firelight Foundation, where she plays a key role in the organization’s efforts to shift power closer to community-based organizations and their communities in Sub Saharan Africa, and fully embrace and operationalize community-driven systems change.

Prof. Mark Tomlinson — Professor, Institute for Life Course Health Research, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University.
Professor Tomlinson's scholarly work has involved a diverse range of topics that have in common an interest in factors that contribute to compromised maternal health, to understanding child and adolescent development in contexts of high adversity, to understand the impact of maternal depression on child health and development, and how to develop community-based interventions to improve health and development across the life course. He is currently a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts (STAGE) for Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and  Nutrition. He has published 310 papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited two books, and published numerous chapters.

Joyce Marangu — Project Coordinator, Aga Khan University.
Joyce Marangu coordinates the implementation of the Scaling Up Playful Parenting Project Aga Khan University’s (AKU). The project is delivered with the support of UNICEF, LEGO Foundation, and the Aga Khan Foundation USA. Her research interests include early childhood development, child poverty and social protection. Joyce holds an M.A in Development Studies from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, as well as an M.A in Development Studies from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. She is currently pursuing a doctorate at Stellenbosch University with a focus on leveraging technology to enhance data on child health, nutrition and development. She has previously been awarded the prestigious DAAD scholarship, ILRI Graduate Fellowship, and is an Africa Early Childhood Development Network Fellow.

Zarina Kurbonbekova — ECD Senior Program Officer, Aga Khan Foundation, Tajikistan.
Zarina Kurbonbekova is from Tajikistan and works as ECD Senior Program Officer for the Aga Khan Foundation. She received her Master's degree in ECD Education & Leadership from ECDE of Moscow School of Economic and Social Sciences and Manchester University, United Kingdom. Zarina is a mother of three beautiful daughters, and her youngest one - Samira - has Down Syndrome. Since 2012, Zarina is the founder of Parent’s Organization of Children with Down Syndrome “SiDa” and since 2018 she is a founder and Chair of the Board of Parents’ Organization of Children with Disabilities “Open Hearts”. She has over 10 years of experience in primary school teaching and more than 17 years of experience working for international agencies. She is an active member of National Working Group at the Ministry of Health and Social Protection on Early Detection & Early Intervention system development, and a senior trainer of ECD, Early Childhood Intervention, and Inclusive Education program.

Relevant links

• A recording of the event is available here: