Education, National Institute of Early Childhood Development & Education, Washington DC
Following my undergraduate and graduate studies and receiving a Ph.D. from Paris-Ouest, Nanterre University in Paris, France, I arrived in Alexandropoulis. For the period 1996-2001, I served as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Education of the Democritus University of Thrace. My research and lectures were focused on education policies for combating school failure and improving early childhood education and care services, on curricular and pedagogical innovations and on schools and museums partnerships. Having a clear European orientation, I was participating in several EU and OECD initiatives shaping recommendations and programs to improve access and quality of education services within the EU landscape.
The Fulbright Fellowship opportunity: through the 1998-1999 Fulbright fellowship, I was accepted at the National Institute of Early Childhood Development & Education of the Department of Education, in Washington DC. My arrival coexisted with a pivotal moment for the institute as it was responsible for preparing the evaluation of the famous Head Start Program offering early childhood development services to children from vulnerable and poor families. The evaluation was meant to serve Congress during the validation of the Reauthorization Act. This was an invaluable experience of evidence-based education policy development. At the end of the Fulbright scholarship, I returned to Greece to continue my teaching work at the university. For family reasons, I ended up returning to the U.S.A. in 2001 and started working as an education policy analyst and advisor for the World Bank Education Sector. My focus was global, with particular interest in middle and low-income countries. I have continued, in essence, this work until nowadays, with a 3-year interruption to work for the private sector.
The Fulbright fellowship was a turnaround for my professional life. It provided me with the opportunity to step up at the international level and to apply my research and education policy advisory skills globally. As Washington DC is an incubator for policy development and evaluation, including for the education sector, I was exposed to the education policy development agenda of the Federal Department of Education, the USAID, the World Bank, and leading universities and thinktanks. As a result of this, a deep reorientation of my professional skills occurred, providing me invaluable experience and recognition at a global level. I led and participated in research, policy development, and program implementation and evaluation to boost access to education and to support the improvement of learning outcomes in more than 35 countries, surpassing 150 missions in countries ranging from Guyana in South America, Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Moldova in Eastern Europe, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Central Asia, the Maldives and Solomon Islands in Oceania and most West African countries. I have visited hundreds of schools and talked to teachers, students, directors, administrators, ministers, and parents all with the same objective: how to better understand the challenges and best serve the countries through resource allocation, and most importantly capacity building, to allow countries to continue the development path without external support. In 2015 I was actively participating in the consultations for shaping the targets and indicators for education of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Watch the following videos to learn more about Fulbright Alumna and World Bank Senior Education Advisor Aigly Zafeirakou:
Aglaia (Aigly) Zafeirakou is a Fulbright Alumna of the 1998-1999 Visiting Scholar Program
Photo Credit: Aigly Zafeirakou 'Quality textbooks for 1st graders in Korhogo region Ivory Coast'
Photo Credit: Aigly Zafeirakou 'Workshop for the Minstry of Education technical team on Curricula development'
Photo Credit: Aigly Zafeirakou 'With 4th Graders in the Region of Korhogo, Ivory Coast'
Photo Credit: Aigly Zafeirakou 'In Benin with the Honorable Minister of Pre-Primary and Basic Education'
Photo Credit: Aigly Zafeirakou 'CIES UNESCO 2023'