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Four scholars from Kenya and Ethiopia win CODE’s 2018 Context Matters Research Grants


Ottawa, February 25, 2019 — The Canadian non-profit organization, CODE, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Context Matters Research Grants. Selected from a pool of applications from five countries, four researchers were awarded CAN$10,000 each to complete research projects focused on increasing the effectiveness, efficiency, and relevance of literacy programming in Africa. Each of this year’s winning projects focused on literacy issues related to girls’ empowerment and education, with the goal of reducing barriers to quality education for women and girls.

Listed in alphabetical order, the winners of the 2018 Context Matters Research Grants are:

  • Professor Hellen Inyega from the Early Grade Reading Institute University of Nairobi, Kenya for her research project entitled Leveraging ICTs to Improve Sexual Health Literacies and Practices of University Students on Kenya;
  • Yewulsew Mehari affiliated with Debre Markos University, Ethiopia for her research project entitled The Practice of Empowering Girls Through Gender Representation in Ethiopian Secondary School English Language Textbooks: The Case of Grade 9 and Grade 10;
  • Dr. Colomba Muriungi, Associate Professor of African Literature and Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science from Chuka University in Kenya for her research project, A Gender Community Outreach Through Literacy Clubs Targeting Girls Living in Poverty-Stricken Areas in Tharaka North Sub County; and
  • Professor Mwangi Ndirangu from the Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Educational Management at Egerton University, Kenya for his research project entitled Integrated Girls Literacy Empowerment Program (IGLEP).

“Context Matters is all about CODE’s commitment to improving the quality and relevance of the evidence base that informs practice – we want to do this by supporting African researchers to undertake research that will help develop meaningful solutions to contemporary problems in education in Africa,” said CODE’s Executive Director, Scott Walter. “This program was years in the making and we were so pleased to finally announce these first grant recipients. I have no doubt that each of these research projects will make a valuable contribution to the evidence base supporting the development of tools and practices that will help improve the quality of education for girls, in particular.”

The Context Matters Research Grants are designed to support work by African scholars and researchers interested in addressing issues identified collaboratively and in consort with the African literacy community. It prioritizes the funding of research that is designed and undertaken by local teams and that seeks to strengthen the research capacity and knowledge of those working in the African context. The goal of these grants is also to foster international partnerships and alliances that will bolster Africa’s ability to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the areas of education and gender equality. To date, research on literacy and gender in Africa has tended to map out differences in test scores between girls and boys, highlighting the effects of wealth, gender, and location on reading achievement. This is critical. However, when it comes to understanding what the solutions to this problem are, what pedagogical tools or interventions might work to improve the learning outcome of girls and boys, there is still a fundamental lack of research conducted in the African context. It is this gap that CODE seeks to address through Context Matters.

“You can be sure that CODE’s support is greatly appreciated,” said grant winner, Professor Mwangi Ndirangu, “and will go a long way to enabling the girl child to appreciate her potential to contribute to the community.” Yewulsew Mehari and team member Mekonnen Esubalew said that they were grateful for the Context Matters grant which “has given us financial and technical support, as well as international experience that can upgrade our profile.” Of Context Matters’ potential impact on her research into the role of girls’ literacy clubs in a Kenya, grant recipient Dr. Colomba Muriungi noted that thanks to this funding she and her team will be helping to “[Walk] girls to self-realization of their inner potential,” providing researchers and beneficiaries alike with an opportunity “to propose empowerment strategies for girls” that can inform future programming in Kenya or elsewhere.

CODE is also pleased to take this opportunity to announce the new Call for Submissions for the 2019 Context Matters Research Grants. As in 2018, the theme of the call is girls’ empowerment and education, with CODE inviting researchers, academics and educators who are resident in and working in the education sector in eligible African countries to submit project proposals that focus on reducing barriers to quality education for women and girls. This effort is framed within the context of the global girls’ education movement and Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy which calls on all international development organizations and their partners to step up their commitments to evidence-based decision making by investing in policy research, data collection, and evaluation focused on gender equality.

This is the second Call for Proposals for CODE’s Context Matters Research Grants, a sustained program of support for an African research agenda in language and literacy. With Context Matters, CODE, will offer up to five research grants of a maximum CAN $10,000 each to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and salience of K-12 education programming, including related pre-service teacher education, in Africa.

To learn more about the 2019 Context Matters Research Grants, or to apply please visit our Research Initiatives page or contact

For more information, please contact:

Scott Walter, Executive Director
T: 613.232.3569/1.800.661.2633  ext. 222

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