This article summarises an interview with co-convenors of one of six 2021 UKFIET conference themes: Reimagining Learning Spaces. The co-convenors are Yulia Nesterova, Research Fellow in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow; and Becky Telford, Chief of Education at UNHCR.

What excites you about your theme?

Our theme is about reflection and action. We will be reflecting on what has been done to sustain learning and support vulnerable communities and individuals, reflecting on learnings from initiatives – what opportunities, challenges and barriers have delegates been dealing with in their diverse contexts and circumstances. But we also will be reflecting on what can be done now – how these practices can be strengthened, adapted in other contexts, and effectively scaled up to build equitable, inclusive and resilient learning spaces.

How does this link to the overall 2021 conference theme of Building Back Better in Education and Training?

Building back better requires understanding what initiatives have been successful in supporting learning and education of vulnerable groups, especially when faced with shocks and stresses. In this theme, we will have the space to reflect on diverse, pragmatic and innovative formal and non-formal practices and imagine the future of learning that supports the transformation of our societies towards a more equitable, just and sustainable development.

What kind of sessions/ papers can we expect to find under your theme?

We have such a range of presentations and symposia from around the world. This includes empirical and conceptual work as well as lessons from practice. Our presentations will cover such topics as decolonisation, peace and epistemic justice in education; learning of marginalised groups such as girls, children with disabilities and refugees; digital innovation in education in low-resourced settings; intergenerational learning and home and community spaces for learning and education.

In the opening plenary, Cambridge Education will set the scene for the theme – drawing on their work in Africa and Asia, their team will discuss how learning spaces can be reimagined to reach the most marginalised girls. The closing plenary will look into the future – as the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report team will launch the concept note for the next year’s report on technology and education.

In the networking session, we will open space for the participants to attend more interactive sessions with the presenters in our theme, to discuss, share and imagine what can and should be done to build back more sustainably and equitably.