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A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa-led project has been awarded a $900,000 grant to ensure inclusive and quality education in Latin American countries under current COVID-19 pandemic conditions.

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Manfred Steger

Department of Sociology Professor Manfred Steger and College of Education Assistant Professor Brent Edwards head the multi-country, crisis management team. The project’s focus is to study how responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the education sector have been developed and implemented—and with what effects—in Latin America, where strong tensions exist between centralization and decentralization in the educational system. The project is centered primarily on El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia—countries that have made distance learning technologies the centerpiece of their educational response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The grant—awarded from Dubai Cares, a philanthropic organization based in the United Arab Emirates—was one of two proposals selected out of 173.

“I am delighted to provide the overall expertise on globalization dynamics affecting education in the Latin American region, and I’m fortunate to be working with a team led by Professor Edwards that understands the significance of local-global interactions driving educational practices today,” said Steger. “After all, the research is framed around UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for students around the globe.”

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Brent Edwards

​​Added Edwards, who is building on 10 years of research and engagement in Latin America, “Being selected for funding of this nature and magnitude is a great honor and an amazing opportunity. I am particularly enthusiastic about bringing a multi-level perspective to how policies are developed and implemented across different levels—from the global and regional to the national and local.”

The three-year project features 13 esteemed colleagues from seven universities across the world, which include Steger, Edwards and College of Education Associate Specialist Ari Eichelberger; as well as faculty from the University of Girona (Spain); University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Texas, Austin; Central American University, UCA (El Salvador); National Pedagogical University (Honduras); and University of the Andes (Colombia).

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.