ADEA, CIES announces funding to support research on disability education in Africa in honor of Rebecca Rhodes

Photo credit: CIES

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), in partnership with the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) is pleased to announce the African Inclusive Literacy Research Fund, which will support African scholars and practitioners undertaking research to identify the best ways of helping children with disabilities become literate as a critical step in reaching their full potential. The fund was officially launched at the 2023 CIES conference in memory of Rebecca H. Rhodes, a staunch champion of global literacy and inclusive education, particularly in Africa.

In 2020, UNESCO estimated that fewer than 10% of children with known disabilities in Africa attend school, and of those, few are learning to read and write. Many other children in school have unrecognized disabilities and also struggle to meet minimum learning standards. While many international agencies and organizations work on inclusive literacy, the most effective and sustainable approaches and national policies must come from a greater understanding of the local challenges, assets, and solutions in each context. African scholars and practitioners are best placed to conduct this research, but African research is severely underfunded. 

The African Inclusive Literacy Research Fund aims to make a modest contribution to address this problem: generating awards to support African researchers and practitioners conducting studies on inclusive literacy, with a focus on children with disabilities.

According to the Executive Secretary of ADEA, Albert Nsengiyumva; 

This fund was established in memory of Rebecca H. Rhodes, an outspoken champion for inclusive education, who passed away at the end of 2021. Rebecca is one of the international education development community’s brightest lights. She was a longstanding member of CIES and a legend for her intellect, mentorship, humor, and above all, her dedication to our field. She was team lead for Reading and Literacy at USAID, and for twenty years prior, she designed and ran education projects across Africa. From the researchers, educators, children and families she met and befriended across the continent, Rebecca knew that each child can learn and that every child has the right to learn in order to reach their highest potential – including children with disabilities. Supporting African research into inclusive literacy enables us to honor her legacy.

To ensure the sustainability of this initiative, CIES has set up a secure online channel to coordinate tax-deductible donations. Interested donors can use this online donation form to contribute to the research fund to expand this novel idea. If your organization is interested in becoming a founding sponsor, please contact Jennifer Swift-Morgan at We have provisioned for a sliding scale for institutional sponsorships and multi-year payment plans available. 

We are now looking for your support, joining the many individuals who have already donated to this fund and our first institutional founding sponsors - Chemonics International, FHI 360, and RTI International. Help us reach our goal to raise $150,000 to endow the fund, allowing us to generate one or more annual research awards in perpetuity. Donate here or contact the persons below for additional background and details on how you can contribute.

The CIES Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for Africa, Global Literacy, and Inclusive Education are Fund partners who will be working with ADEA and CIES on outreach and selection for the research awards generated by the fund.

For more information on this, please contact the following: