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Nozomi Sakata

Nozomi Sakata teaches at the Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), UCL Institute of Education, co-leading online modules in MA Education and International Development and MA Education, Gender and International Development.

Her research interests lie in the field of Comparative and International Education, with a focus on pedagogy in sub-Saharan Africa, education reform in global contexts and the use of mixed methods in educational research. Her doctoral research, titled ‘Learner-centred pedagogy and its implications for pupils’ schooling experiences and learning outcomes: A mixed-methods case study in Tanzania,’ explored how and to what extent Tanzania appropriates learner-centred pedagogy (LCP) and how LCP implementation might affect the schooling experiences and learning outcomes of primary-aged pupils. Her postdoctoral research at CEID has examined locally appropriate pedagogy by applying the Capability Approach. It explores what opportunities and achievements primary teachers in Tanzania value for their pupils to have after primary education and what pedagogy they believe will help expand pupils’ capabilities.

Prior to her PhD, Nozomi obtained an MA in Anthropology and Education from Columbia University in the US. She has previously worked with UNICEF in Tanzania, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Research Institute and Save the Children Japan on various education- and development-related projects.


Nozomi Sakata was awarded the 2020 BERA Doctoral Thesis Award for her thesis Learner-Centred Pedagogy and its Implications for Pupils’ Schooling Experiences and Learning Outcomes: A Mixed-Methods Case Study in Tanzania.

The abstract for her thesis is below:

Despite its global appeal and spread, the applicability and effectiveness of learner-centred pedagogy (LCP) in developing countries remains uncertain due to its incompatibility with national sociocultural and political contexts. Tanzania’s ujamaa philosophy and related historical context may offer a rare compatibility with LCP foundations. This thesis examines how and to what extent Tanzania appropriates LCP. Existing literature has primarily focused on teachers, exploring their understanding of LCP and teaching practices. Teachers and pupils co-construct classroom reality, and LCP is argued to improve pupil learning, but pupils’ experiences with LCP and its contribution to learning outcomes have attracted little scholarly attention. This thesis investigates how LCP implementation might affect the schooling experiences and learning outcomes of primary-aged pupils.

The transversal–vertical–horizontal case study provides a methodological and analytical framework. LCP policies, vertically negotiated between international, national and local policy levels, exclusively centre on teachers and teaching. Interviewed teachers understood the meanings and importance of the recommended LCP, but they barely employed LCP-related classroom activities. Transversal examination – situating current LCP implementation historically – shows that people in Tanzania have traditionally viewed knowledge as unquestionable. This has produced a child–adult power imbalance, which manifests itself in classrooms between teachers and pupils. Horizontal exploration with mixed methods found inconsistency with LCP tenets: despite the expectation that LCP would yield learning improvement, the observed level of LCP implementation was not associated with any better learning outcomes. Conversely, pupils’ subjective perceptions of learner-centredness demonstrated positive associations with both academic performance and learning attitudes. Pupil–teacher relationships in schools and child–adult relationships at home imply influences on perceived learner-centredness. The sociocultural settings, transversally formed through history, obstruct the uptake of LCP as a pedagogical theory, vertically adopted within the global policy architecture. The multidimensionality of pedagogy bespeaks multiple viewpoints from teachers and pupils as well as the consideration of the historical and sociocultural milieu.


Nozomi Sakata's contributions

BERA Doctoral Thesis Award

Every year BERA recognises academic excellence and rigour in research by a Doctoral student. This underscores BERA’s commitment to developing capacity, advancing quality and...