Two false dichotomies: quality vs. quantity and peer vs. global expertise

Reda Sadki Global health, Global health

The national EPI manager of the Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), just addressed the COVID-19 Peer Hub Teams from DRC and Ivory Coast, saluting both teams for their effort to prepare and strengthen COVID-19 vaccine introduction. I am honored to have been invited and pleased to see how this initiative is not only country-led but truly owned and led by its participants. She has joined the Inter-Country Peer Exchange (reserved for COVID-19 Peer Hub Members) organized by the Peer Hub’s DRC Team to share rapid learning from COVID-19 vaccine introduction. In the room are immunization professionals, primarily those working for the Ministries of Health, directly involved in vaccine introduction from both countries and from all levels of the health system. Other COVID-19 Peer Hub country teams are organizing similar inter-country exchanges, in response to their own needs, building on what they have …

Walled garden

Can the transformation of global health education for impact rely on input-based accreditation?

Reda Sadki Education business models, Global health, Learning strategy

Burck Smith wrote in 2012 what remains one of the clearest summaries of how accreditation is based primarily on a higher education institution’s inputs rather than its outcomes, and serves to create an “iron triangle” to maintain high prices, keep out new entrants, and resist change. It is worth quoting Smith at length (summary and references via this link) as we think through the proposal that the transformation of global health education for impact should rely solely on accredited institutions. Global health efforts are focused on outcomes and aim to achieve impact. The focus on results makes the prevailing input-based accreditation criteria unlikely to be the most useful ones to help achieve global health goals. This calls for rethinking a broad swath of fairly fundamental issues, from how to construct education to what philosophy should underpin what we design and develop. The call for a “revolution” in education for public …

Social network and citation network in the COVID-19 Peer Hub

Disseminating rapid learning about COVID-19 vaccine introduction

Reda Sadki Global health, Global health, Learning strategy

In July 2019, barely six months before the pandemic, we worked with alumni of The Geneva Learning Foundation’s immunization programme to build the Impact Accelerator in 86 countries. This global community of action for national and sub-national immunization staff pledged, following completion of one of the Foundation’s courses, to support each other in other to achieve impact. Closing the loop from learning to impact produced startling results, accelerating the rate at which locally-resourced projects were implemented and fostering new forms of collaborative leadership. Alumni launched what immediately became the largest network of immunization managers in the world. Then the pandemic dramatically raised the stakes: at least 80 million children under one were placed at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio as COVID-19 disrupted immunization service as worldwide. Alumni were amongst the first in their countries to respond, leveraging the power of being connected to each other …

Solidarity across public health and medicine silos during a pandemic

Reda Sadki Education business models, Global health, Global health, Learning strategy

We are launching a new Scholar programme about environmental threats to health, with an initial focus on radiation. (I mapped out what this might look like in 2017.) As part of the launch, we are enlisting support of immunization colleagues. Our immunization programme is our largest and most advanced programme, and still growing fast since its inception in 2016. At The Geneva Learning Foundation, we have spent 5 years pouring mind, body, and soul into building what has become the largest digital platform for national and sub-national immunization leaders. Along the way, we discovered that it is not only about scale. Social Network Analysis (SNA) by colleagues Sasha Poquet and Vitomir Kovanovic at the Centre for Complexity and Change in Learning is now helping us to understand the power in the relationships not just one-to-many but many-to-many across the network. Yes, there is a linkage as most vaccines are for …

New learning and leadership for front-line community health workers facing danger

Reda Sadki Global health, Learning design, Scholar Approach

This presentation was prepared for the second global meeting of the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) project in Geneva, Switzerland (17–18 May 2017). In October  2016, over 700 pre-hospital emergency workers from 70 countries signed up for the #Ambulance! initiative to “share experience and document situations of violence”. This initiative was led by Norwegian Red Cross and IFRC in partnership with the Geneva Learning Foundation, as part of the Health Care in Danger project. Over four weeks (equivalent to two days of learning time), participants documented 72 front-line incidents of violence and similar risks, and came up with practical approaches to dealing with such risks. This initiative builds on the Scholar Approach, developed by the University of Illinois College of Education, the Geneva Learning Foundation, and Learning Strategies International. In 2013, IFRC had piloted this approach to produce 105 case studies documenting learning in emergency operations. These are some of the questions which I address in …

Old cash register (Andrés Moreira/flickr)

Inventing by investing in new business models for humanitarian training

Reda Sadki Education business models, Thinking aloud

Through research and broad sector collaboration, a consensus has emerged on the recognition that uneven quality of personnel is a major limiting factor in humanitarian response, and that serious effort is needed to address the global gap in skills and build capacity of countries and local communities. At the same time, there is growing recognition that existing models for learning, education and training (LET) are not succeeding in addressing this gap, and that new approaches are needed. Structured learning has long been assumed to be an expenditure and, for a long time, remained unquestioned as a necessary investment. Yet learning advocates increasingly find themselves in a defensive posture, in part due to the complexity involved in correlating education initiatives with measurable outcomes for a cost centre. However, new business models point to education driven by demand that can not only cover its own costs but generate revenue to be reinvested …

All the way down (Amancay Maahs/

Can analysis and critical thinking be taught online in the humanitarian context?

Reda Sadki Events, Learning design, Presentations

This is my presentation at the First International Forum on Humanitarian Online Training (IFHOLT) organized by the University of Geneva on 12 June 2015. I describe some early findings from research and practice that aim to go beyond “click-through” e-learning that stops at knowledge transmission. Such transmissive approaches replicate traditional training methods prevalent in the humanitarian context, but are both ineffective and irrelevant when it comes to teaching and learning the critical thinking skills that are needed to operate in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments faced by humanitarian teams. Nor can such approaches foster collaborative leadership and team work. Most people recognize this, but then invoke blended learning as the solution. Is it that – or is it just a cop-out to avoid deeper questioning and enquiry of our models for teaching and learning in the humanitarian (and development) space? If not, what is the alternative? This is what I explore in just under twenty …

Peter Paul Rubens. From 1577 to 1640. Antwerp. Medusa's head. KHM Vienna.

Experience and blended learning: two heads of the humanitarian training chimera

Reda Sadki Design, Events, Learning design, Learning strategy, Thinking aloud

Experience is the best teacher, we say. This is a testament to our lack of applicable quality standards for training and its professionalization, our inability to act on what has consequently become the fairly empty mantra of 70-20-10, and the blinders that keep the economics (low-volume, high-cost face-to-face training with no measurable outcomes pays the bills of many humanitarian workers, and per diem feeds many trainees…) of humanitarian education out of the picture.

The Infinity Room (The House on the Rock) (Justin Kern/Flickr)

7 key questions when designing a learning system

Reda Sadki Learning, Learning design

In the design of a learning system for humanitarians, the following questions should be given careful consideration: Does each component of the system foster cross-cutting analysis and critical thinking competencies that are key to humanitarian leadership? Is the curriculum standardized across all components, with shared learning objectives and a common competency framework? Is the curriculum modular so that components may be tailored to focus on context-specific performance gaps? Does the system provide experiential learning (through scenario-based simulations) and foster collaboration (through social, peer-to-peer knowledge co-construction) in addition to knowledge transmission (instruction)? How are learning and performance outcomes evaluated? Are synergies between components of the learning system leveraged to minimized costs? Have the costs over time been correctly calculated by estimating both development and delivery costs? These questions emerged from the development of a learning system for market assessment last year, thinking through how to use learning innovation to achieve efficiency and effectiveness despite limited resources. Photo: The Infinity Room …

Climbing La Soufrière in Saint Vincent (Ian Usher/Flickr)


Reda Sadki Publishing, Quotes

“What I like,” whispered my dinner companion, “is that these publishing types have survived the fire of digital transformation, emerging out of the boiling pits of disruption, and all of that. Some were dismembered before, during, and after – acquired and merged, sold and resold. All paid a terrible price, but bear their bruises and scars proudly. They are not only smart but also scrappy, battle-seasoned veterans whose eyes still gleam with the thick knowledge that they produce. The culture (and, yes, the economy) that sustains their work is very much alive, circulating in networks that don’t care whether they are made of silicon or white matter. Blood, sweat and tears, man! And, yes, most if not all are showing a profit!” And then, like a drop of sulfuric acid on the rusty metal plate separating ‘education’ from ‘publishing’ in our fragmented knowledge universe: “Beats babbling on about 70-20-10, eh?” …