Recent Work & Publications

New Book Chapter - Workforce Skills Curriculum Development in Context

posted Jan 2, 2022, 6:12 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman   [ updated Jan 2, 2022, 6:30 AM ]

The new book, Life Skills Education for Youth: Critical Perspectives (edited by Joan DeJaeghere and Erin Murphy-Graham) calls for critical conceptualizations of life skills, offers examples and considerations for reframing life skills conceptually and pedagogically, and draws on a review of theoretical, methodological, and empirical literature on life skills.

The book features a chapter by Ishya Consulting's Catherine Honeyman and co-authors Melanie Sany Nancy Chervin, Laura Cordisco Tsai, and Janice Ubaldo. Titled Workforce Skills Curriculum Development in Context, the chapter features case studies in Rwanda, Algeria, and the Philippines.

This book is published open access by Springer, which means that readers have free and unlimited access via the links above.

For other recent publications on Ishya Consulting's work, see Using evidence and implementation experience for advocacy and policy influence: The Rwanda Emergent Literacy and Maths Initiative (ELMI) Case.” 2019. Early years: An international research journal.

Case study published in the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report

posted Jan 1, 2018, 9:39 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman

See the source imageCatherine Honeyman recently contributed a case study, on Accountability Practices and Policies in Rwanda's Education System, to the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report. A full list of the country case studies can be found here:

Honorable Mention for the Best Book on East Africa

posted Jan 1, 2018, 8:57 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman   [ updated Jan 1, 2018, 9:06 AM ]

Catherine Honeyman recently won an Honorable Mention for the Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize at the 2017 African Studies Association conference in Chicago. The award is given each year to the author of the best book on East African Studies published in the previous calendar year. Honeyman won the award for her 2016 book The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda.

Following is the award panel's review of the book:

"The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda  (Stanford University Press). This book makes a superb contribution to the rather sparse anthropology of policy as social practice. It explores the paradoxes of Rwanda’s introduction of entrepreneurship classes in secondary school, a policy intended to alleviate youth unemployment. In a singularly well-crafted methodological itinerary, Honeyman followed the policy from its formulation at national and international levels, to its reworking in the Curriculum Development Committee, its implementation in the classroom, and finally to its consequences for students several years after graduation.

Based on five years of research using a variety of methods, the book is empirically rich, with a fine combination of close-in and wide-angle perspectives. Honeyman proposes an original theory of governance as negotiated social learning within and across communities of practice, which illuminates how actors rework new ideas. The Rwandan state is intent on cultivating creativity among its young potential entrepreneurs, but the habits of rote learning and the tight regulation of small business effectively quell inventiveness. The most disadvantaged youth are discriminated by bans on street selling and requirements for licenses, tax, and good standard premises. In exemplary fashion, Honeyman uses her analysis to make feasible recommendations on how policies and implementation could be changed to better serve the youth of Rwanda today."

Find other reviews of the book at

The many dimensions of quality education for all

posted Mar 28, 2017, 5:01 PM by Catherine A. Honeyman   [ updated Mar 28, 2017, 5:02 PM ]

Catherine Honeyman represents the IIEP Learning Portal at CIES 2017 in Atlanta.

IIEP Learning Portal at CIES 2017

“The two big themes of today’s education goals are equity and learning—we need to continually think about whether our programs and our interventions are advancing those goals,” IIEP-UNESCO Director Suzanne Grant Lewis remarked at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference. Speaking about the importance of “protecting our instinct to care,” she urged attendees to continually renew a personal commitment to developing high-quality education systems for all.

IIEP sent a delegation of seven experts in different areas of educational planning to participate in CIES 2017, whose theme was Problematizing (In)Equality. Covering a wide variety of issues, each IIEP presentation offered insights on improving learning outcomes around the world.

Knowledge (and data) is power

When parents do not know what goes on in schools, and what their children are—or are not—learning, they have little influence over it. “When we talk about open data at the school level”, IIEP’s Muriel Poisson explained, “this includes data related to inputs, but also on learning outcomes.” With this information, local education stakeholders become much more powerful. “We are looking at how the publication of learning outcomes at school level can be used by school communities, including parents, to put pressure on school authorities and on teachers to improve the quality of learning.”

Read "How can open data be used to improve transparency and fight against corruption in education?"

Education planners themselves also need better data on a wide variety of issues, including private financing of education, argued Jean Claude Ndabananiye of IIEP’s Pôle de Dakar. “This data is most related to the issue of access—there are financial constraints affecting access to schooling, and these constraints affect poor households much more than the rich. And there are factors related to quality and learning outcomes too—such as the capacity of households to finance quality inputs, like books and private tuition to help students review and improve their skills. Data about household expenditures can help planners target those who do not have the capacity to pay for these things, and assist them with scholarships or providing extra materials, or other extra support.”

Read "Data revolution to measure equity in education for the SDGs"


P.Kumar Learning Portal user 

Teacher motivation matters

Barbara Tournier, of IIEP Paris, directs a project focusing on the optimal design of teacher careers. “We know that if you can get teachers more motivated,” she said, “that will improve the quality of their teaching and their pupils’ learning. And we also realize that because teachers are the most important school-level variable that we can have an influence on, we should be focusing our efforts on them.”

Her project draws on a rich array of research and an original mapping exercise conducted in eight countries to discuss the most important factors influencing teacher motivation. “When you look at motivation theories, there are a lot of variables that can be affected by the way the teacher career is organized—like a sense of autonomy, of personal growth, recognition, status, and salary. All of these aspects have an influence on teacher motivation and they are linked to teacher careers. So the idea is that if we can look at promising models of teacher careers, this will potentially have an impact on how they are teaching, and what students are learning.”

Pablo Cevallos Estarellas, Director of IIEP Buenos Aires, also brought new insights on teacher policies, presenting on Ecuador’s 2007–2016 efforts to transform its school system by reforming its teacher policies—showing once again that teacher issues are often central to improving learning outcomes.

Read "How can teacher careers be reformed?"


The Tusome project has a lot to teach us about improving learning. Suzanne Grant Lewis  with Ben Piper, RTI/Tusome at CIES 2017


Quality education can prevent conflict

A major theme at the conference was the issue of education in conflict and crisis situations, a plight that affects many of the world's out-of-school children. “Education can be a source of conflict, and at the same time it can help to resolve conflict,” remarked Koffi Segniagbeto of IIEP’s Pôle de Dakar. Quality is a key dimension in this paradox, he explained, because “when the system does not take into account the question of inequalities and disparities between regions and social classes, this can become a source of conflict.” To prevent conflict, education planners need to ensure that all children have access to an education of equal quality and value.

They also need to appropriately prepare teachers to teach in these contexts, explained Leonora MacEwen in relation to a new project she is developing at IIEP Paris. “Teachers are key to quality learning. So if you have a teacher who has experienced trauma, or teachers from host communities that are teaching refugees, there’s a whole set of psycho-social skills that are required in order for host teachers to be able to accommodate and meet the needs of refugee students who may have experienced trauma.”

Read "How should we plan for education in settings of conflict and instability?"

Caring about quality education

Protecting our instinct to care about equity and learning often means stepping back to remind ourselves of the big picture, and what a quality education can achieve. As Segniagbeto explained, quality education can itself teach values and skills to help prevent conflict, from tolerance of diverse ideas to ensuring that everyone has the skills to become gainfully employed. “If education is of poor quality,” he said, “it cannot achieve the objectives it is intended to achieve—it cannot put into place a stable society that is free of crisis and conflict.”

Contributed by : Catherine Honeyman

New Book available for pre-orders

posted May 27, 2016, 7:33 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman

Catherine Honeyman's new book, The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda is now available for pre-orders from Stanford University Press and from The book is scheduled to come out in September, 2016.

The Orderly Entrepreneurbook cover
Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda
Catherine A. Honeyman

Available in September
320 pages
from $27.95

The first generation of children born after Rwanda's 1994 genocide is just now reaching maturity, setting aside their school uniforms to take up adult roles in Rwandan society and the economy. At the same time, Rwanda's post-war government has begun to shrug off international aid as it pursues an increasingly independent path of business-friendly yet strongly state-regulated social and economic development. The Orderly Entrepreneur tells the story of a new Rwanda now at the vanguard among developing countries, emulating the policies of Singapore, Korea, and China, and devoutly committed to entrepreneurship as a beacon for 21st century economic growth.

Drawing on ethnographic research with nearly 500 participants, The Orderly Entrepreneur investigates the impact and reception of the Rwandan government's multiyear entrepreneurship curriculum, first implemented in 2007 as required learning in all secondary schools. As Honeyman shows, "entrepreneurship" is more than a benign buzzword or hopeful panacea for economic development, but a complex ideal with unique meanings across Rwandan society. She reveals how curriculum developers, teachers, and students all brought their own interpretations and influence to the new entrepreneurship curriculum, exposing how even a carefully engineered project of social transformation can be full of indeterminacies and surprising twists every step of the way.

About the author Catherine A. Honeyman is Visiting Scholar at the Duke Center for International Development and Managing Director of Ishya Consulting.


"This book is a powerful examination of how Rwanda, Africa's first entrepreneurial state, has harnessed smart education policies to rapidly transform its economy in just one generation. Honeyman underscores the power of consistent policy in balancing between youth creativity and state regulation for economic reconstruction. Africa's leaders can only ignore this book at their peril. It is a potent antidote to Afropessimism."

—Calestous Juma, Harvard Kennedy School, author of Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies

"The Orderly Entrepreneur is a highly compelling analysis of entrepreneurship education in Rwanda as conceived by national and international policymakers; operationalized by teachers; and creatively modified and, indeed, sometimes openly rejected by students. Combining careful attention to the complexities of Rwandan history alongside her original field research, Honeyman provides a strong argument for her conclusion that many creative entrepreneurs are very likely to be disorderly."

—Amy Stambach, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Honeyman advises on the development of Rwanda's new literacy policy

posted May 9, 2016, 11:29 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman

Dr. Catherine Honeyman has been brought on by Rwanda's Ministry of Education and Save the Children Rwanda to advise on the development of a new comprehensive national literacy policy, collaborating with the local consulting firm Blue Space Consulting Ltd.

The new policy treats literacy as a continuum of skills related to reading and writing, developed from birth through adulthood. The policy will contain sections related to emergent literacy development in the home and in pre-primary school, early literacy development in primary school, higher-order literacy development in secondary school and beyond, literacy development for out-of-school youth and adults, the integration of special needs literacy development into each of the preceding levels, and also the enabling environment for availability of quality reading materials.

Open consultations are being held with several stakeholder groups on these different aspects of the policy. To contribute your ideas, write to

CIES 2016 Panel on Children, Youth & Schooling in Rwanda Today

posted Mar 3, 2016, 7:06 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman   [ updated Jul 27, 2016, 9:02 AM ]

Dr. Catherine Honeyman, Managing Director of Ishya Consulting, will lead a panel at the 2016 Comparative and International Education Society conference scheduled for March in Vancouver, Canada, on the topic of "Children, Youth, and Schooling in Rwanda Today: Post-Developmental Government Visions and Young People's Responses."

Panel Abstract:
The first generation of children born after Rwanda's 1994 genocide against the Tutsi is just now on the cusp of maturity. As they walk the path towards adult identities that fit with their own aspirations, they must also navigate the expectations of their friends, families, and--not least--the state. At the same time, Rwanda's government is experiencing its own sort of coming-of-age, increasingly shrugging off international tutelage to forge an independent path that combines strong-state developmental methods with neoliberal ideals of self-reliance and entrepreneurialism.

Rwanda's current governing approach, recently described as "post-developmental" (Honeyman, forthcoming; also see Ong, 2006) or "high modernist" (Huggins, 2013; Newbury, 2011; also see Scott, 1999), involves definite ideas about who Rwandan children and youth are, and who they should become. Schooling is central to that project. It is conceived of in government discourse as the primary institution for shaping the ideal Rwandan citizen of the future, and as essential to realizing Rwanda's planned transition to a middle-income, knowledge-based economy by 2020.

This panel presentation explores Rwanda's post-developmental vision for children and youth through the lens of schooling, and the ways in which young people define their educational experiences and futures in the context of strong-state plans and strategies. All of the papers pay particular attention to young people's perceptions and experiences of, and reactions to, post-developmental educational policies. Not surprisingly, young people have their own perspective on the meaning of schooling and its place in their lives.

Following an introduction to the panel focusing on Rwanda's significance today in the global discourse on education and development, Timothy Williams will provide an overview of the current Rwandan education system, focusing on how the government envisions the goals and characteristics of a quality education, and the successes and obstacles to its efforts to enact these ideals. Next, Kirsten Pontalti explores young people's choices to participate or not participate in national educational priorities through school enrollment and attendance, and the effects of these choices on Rwanda's post-developmental goal of transitioning towards a knowledge-based economy. Third, Samuel Rushworth explores how students construct their identities in the context of the school, in ways that support the reproduction of Rwandan culture and social structures but not necessarily in the manner envisaged by educational planners. Finally, Catherine Honeyman discusses the key role that entrepreneurship education plays in Rwandan government visions of young people's schooling and livelihoods, and what young people make of the post-developmental objective to educate them into a generation of orderly entrepreneurs. 

In the context of the conference theme, Six Decades of Comparative and International Education, this panel offers a joint perspective on one important future emphasis for comparative and international education research: investigating how young people shape the interface between international, national, and local education policy-making, implementation, and effects. Paper presentations will be followed by time for questions and discussion, and excerpts will be available of Honeyman's book, The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda, forthcoming in mid-2016 from Stanford University Press.

Online Platform to Improve Learning Worldwide is Now Live

posted Jan 13, 2016, 7:19 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman

UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) has launched the IIEP Learning Portal, an interactive platform designed to help decision-makers worldwide plan for quality education and improved learning outcomes. Bringing together more than 1,000 resources in a searchable database, the IIEP Learning Portal offers—at no cost to users—comprehensive, up-to-date, relevant information on learning issues, from primary through secondary education.
Click here to view our messages and infographics for your communication needs and use on social media.

"There is a global learning crisis today preventing millions of children from reaching their full potential. Only by improving learning outcomes can societies truly unlock the power of education and enhance the capacities of all citizens,” said IIEP director Suzanne Grant Lewis. “The new Portal is an important tool for countries working towards the Education 2030 agenda and will provide a range of education actors with the resources they need to improve learning outcomes.”


While many countries have expanded access to education since 2000, when the six Education for All (EFA) goals were established, recent studies have indicated low levels of learning among primary school children. Worldwide, 250 million children are not learning the basic skills they need to reach their full potential, earn a decent livelihood and participate fully in society.

This highlights a new reality today: it is not enough to simply expand student enrolment, but rather ensure that high-quality learning takes place. This will require in-depth discussions of what constitutes learning and how governments can guarantee equal educational quality for all.


The IIEP Learning Portal responds to the needs of education planners, policy-makers, civil society actors, and funders throughout the world, by offering:

  • Brief summaries of the research on 25 ways to improve learning,
  • An overview of each step involved in creating a plan for learning improvement,
  • Tools and approaches to monitor learning and put the data to use,
  • A weekly blog and a daily selection of news articles on learning from around the world,
  • Ways to learn about major controversies and participate in e-Forum discussions,
  • glossary of key terms and a chance to ask a librarian to help you find the resources you need,
  • More than 1,000 resources in a searchable database including research and reports on efforts to improve learning, sample policies, current debates and a wide range of experiences on learning issues.


The IIEP Learning Portal strives to foster an online community where decision-makers and education stakeholders can collaborate and exchange information in multiple ways on how to improve learning. Users are invited to subscribe to the Portal’s newsletter, connect on Twitter and Facebook and create a free account to participate in forums, contribute to the blog and share news. A series of e-Forums — to be held in English, French and Spanish — is also envisioned as a way to stimulate debate on issues central to solving the global learning crisis. 

The Portal held its first e-Forum in November 2015, bringing together more than 900 participants from around the world. Entitled ‘Inclusive and equitable quality education for all: Towards a global framework for measuring learning?’, the online conference explored how learning outcomes are assessed in different regions and education systems worldwide.

Participants —34% of them from national agencies or ministries of education and 42% of them from sub-Saharan Africa, with every other continent also represented—brought diverse perspectives to bear on the question of what role learning assessments may play in the context of the new Education 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. 

The IIEP Learning Portal is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE), a multi-donor collaborative including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Intel Foundation, and The MasterCard Foundation.

[Reposted from the IIEP Blog:]

In 2015, Ishya Consulting acted as Research and Content Development Manager for the site.

Visiting Scholar at Duke Center for International Development

posted Jul 23, 2015, 11:59 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman

Honeyman has accepted a visiting scholar position at Duke University's Center for International Development, in North Carolina (USA). While at Duke University, Honeyman will continue managing research and content development for UNESCO/IIEP's online portal plan4learning. She will also complete work on her book The Orderly Entrepreneur: Creativity, Credentials, and Controls in Rwanda, forthcoming from Stanford University Press.

See Honeyman's visiting scholar bio on the DCID webpage.

Managing the UNESCO/IIEP site Plan4Learning

posted May 27, 2015, 6:33 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman

Ishya Consulting has been engaged by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) as Content Development Manager of the new web portal Plan4Learning. Plan4Learning is designed to help education planners and policy-makers plan for quality education and improved learning outcomes.

As Content Development Manager, Ishya is following recent research and news in order to identify the most important topics and tools to include on the site, as well as coordinating researchers and authors who are writing custom content. Have a suggestion for the site? Submit your ideas to this address.

Following is an excerpt from the Plan4Learning portal:

Why focus on learning?

Increased attention is being given to learning. Over 150 countries in the world already measure learning, using national or international instruments.  On the international level, more and more governments, NGOs, and international organizations prioritize learning.  However a growing body of evidence is showing the low learning achievement of many primary school children while the limited learning data at secondary level continues to be a concern. IIEP is witnessing a growing demand from governments to include improved learning in the planning of their education systems. Plan4Learning is IIEP’s response to this increased demand.


Plan4Learning is a single window to comprehensive, up-to-date, relevant, and neutral information on learning issues, from primary through secondary education.


For more than half a century, IIEP has been a central and trusted source of scientific evidence for what works in education policy, planning and management to improve quality, equity and efficiency. In addition to the resources collected in the repository, IIEP analyses the constraints which affect educational policies designed to improve learning outcomes. This is an area that continues to both perplex and challenge policy makers and researchers. It is even more important now as governments are faced with slower growth and tighter budgets. Careful research and evaluation have a crucial role to play in exploring the evidence base, and increasing the effectiveness of policymaking. Our team will be working hard to provide solutions for policymakers.


What can you find on the portal?

- Evidence on learning issues
- Analyses and syntheses of relevant information in a balanced, reliable and easy to use way
- Debates on controversial issues, fostering dialogue and critical thinking
- Online tools to aid understanding

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