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prof. michalis kontopodis

Prof. Michalis Kontopodis

[ Keynote speaker ]

School of Education
University of Leeds

Speech Title: “Mapping Global Childhood & Youth Futures after COVID-19” 

Prof. Michalis Kontopodis is a Chair in Global Childhood and Youth Studies and Director of the ICY: Inclusion, Childhood & Youth Research Centre at the University of Leeds. In collaboration with a wide network of academics, practitioners, NGOs, community organisations and policy makers, Prof. Kontopodis conducts research with three foci: (a) addressing challenges related to global debt, poverty and marginalisation; (b) innovating pedagogies with new media and digital technologies; (c) deciphering the multiple links between child health, ecology and body pedagogies. Before moving to the University of Leeds in 2018, Prof. Kontopodis held academic positions in Amsterdam, London and Berlin; his visiting scholarships & affiliations include: the Pontíficia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brazil; Escuela Normal del Estado, Mexico; Jawaharlal Nehru University, India; and Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Russia. His books, edited volumes and journal articles have been published in six languages; many of his publications are openly accessible through his personal webpage:

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Assoc. Prof. Dr. Roziah Mohd Rasdi

[ Keynote speaker ]

Department of Professional Development and Continuing Education
Faculty of Educational Studies Universiti Putra,

Speech Title: “Generational Work Values and its Implications for Practice” 

Roziah Mohd Rasdi (PhD) is an Associate Professor in Human Resource Development and the Head of Department of Professional Development and Continuing Education, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her current research revolves in the areas of Career Development and Human Resource Development specifying on redesigning the framework of work competencies for organizations in embracing the world of artificial intelligence. She is also leading several research projects related to Human Resource Development including a national study on training assessment of Malaysia One Health University Network signature training activities, a US-funded investigation in strengthening One Health Workforce policy on environment and stakeholder engagement; and a study examining career decision making among women professionals in Malaysia. Other collaborative efforts have included research and consultancy works with the Ministry of Education Malaysia, the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia, the International Institute of Knowledge Management, Sri Lanka, and other public agencies and NGOs. She has published widely in both local and international academic journals. She sits on the Editorial Advisory Board of the European Journal of Training and Development, International Journal of Training and Development, Human Resource Development Review, and Human Resource Development Quarterly.



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prof. manjula vithanapathirana

Prof. Manjula Vithanapathirana

[ Plenary Speaker ]

Faculty of Education
University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Speech Title: “Co-creation of interventions for education and well being of children and youth: Applications of Design-based Research” 

Professor Manjula Vithanapathirana is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Colombo. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of Education. She was the Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Colombo from 2016-2019. She obtained her PhD from University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom. She is reputed as an interdisciplinary scientist and some of her areas of expertise are Educational Psychology, Child Psychology and Primary Education, Early Childhood Education, Educational Pedagogy and Andragogy, Organizational Counselling, Industrial Psychology, Science Education, Service Learning, Collaborative Action Research, Design-based research and Buddhist Psychology. Her publications also range across these areas.

She has made research presentations in more than 50 conferences and symposia both in Sri Lanka and overseas. She serves in editorial panels of several journals both national and International and functions as a reviewer as well.

Professor Vithanapathirana held the position of General President of the Sri Lanka Association of the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) in 2016, the premier professional association of scientists of all disciplines in Sri Lanka.

Her most recent contribution to the field of education is to facilitate and coordinate the partnership of Faculties of Education of University of Colombo and Open University of Sri Lanka in a consortium of Universities of an Erasmus+ project on Blended Learning capacity building initiative, titled Contemporary Teaching Skills for South Asia (CONTESSA).

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Prof. Marie Grace Gomez

[ Plenary Speaker ]

The University of the Philippines

Speech Title: “Fostering Resilience among Children in Times of Uncertainties” 

Marie Grace Gomez is a professor at the Counselor Education Area, College of Education, University of the Philippines in Diliman. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a Master of Arts in Guidance, a Doctor of Philosophy in Guidance and another doctorate in Special Education, all from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She has worked as classroom teacher, guidance counselor, and school administrator in both basic and tertiary education settings. Her community extensions in the realm of counseling and psychotherapy involve services for drug surrenderees, sexually abused and human trafficked children, psychological first aid, counseling and psychotherapy for persons affected by COVID-19 and patients affected by terminal illness. She has published Values Education textbooks that have activities that are geared towards self-help. She has published local and international researches in the fields of counseling issues of the regular and special populations, assessment and program development.

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Dr. Shirin Abbas

[ Plenary Speaker ]

Academician, Consultant, Gender & Child Expert,

Speech Title: “Deprivation & Disease: The impact on Covid 2019 on Children from economically weaker sections in India. (Case studies and Analysis of Findings from various agencies)” 

Dr. Shirin Abbas is a Researcher, Academician and Consultant/ Speaker on issues related to Media, Women & Gender and Child Rights.

A British Chevening Scholar, having studied at the UK’s top media school, University of Westminster’s School of Communication, Design & Media, Dr. Shirin Abbas has over 30 years’ teaching , consultancy and industry experience. She has received several international research awards in Media and Communication, Development Journalism and Gender Issues. Her Ph D is on Mobiles for Social and Behavioural Change in rural context.

Dr Shirin Abbas is a Media, Women and Gender Studies expert including working on Underpriviliged Children with some key agencies involved in working for Child Rights. She was one of the three key researchers on a primary study on changes brought about by interventions in 100 government primary schools around Lucknow, commissioned by the U.P. State Primary Education Department and conducted by the Lucknow Management Association of which she is a Life Member.

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[ Plenary Speaker ]

PhD Research Scholar, Department of Social Work, University of Delhi,


Speech Title: “Fostering Social Harmony In Schools: Child-Based Responses To Islamophobia)” 

Ms. Jannat Fatima Farooqui professionally working as a Senior Program Manager, Learning and Development, India Vision Foundation The Foundation works on human rights of prisoners, prison reforms and post-release rehabilitation of inmates, their children and families. In the past, she has worked for more than 10 years in the fields of child rights and education with Pratham Education Foundation, UNICEF and Early Learning Center, University of Delaware, Newark, USA.

She currently a research scholar at the Department of Social Work, University of Delhi, India seeking to apply for German Chancellor Fellowship. Earlier, she has completed Masters in Social Work and Masters of Philosophy (Social Work) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India.

Her PhD research dissertation is centered around effects of Islamophobia, systematic exclusions, backlash violence and individualized hate-crimes on lives of young Muslims and children around the globe. She recently conducted and published research on how religious bullying effects American Muslim children and social work interventions which can be taken up to mitigate these reduction and prevention of school-based Islamophobia (PFA). Based in a child rights-based context, she has written a book chapter which reviews empirical research on varied Islamophobic experiences that young Muslims encounter across North America and Europe (PFA).

In India, Ms. Jannat Fatima recently published on early educational marginations of Muslim minority children (PFA) and have been an invited by several news media channels, newspapers and podcasts to speak on this pressing issue.

She has presented the work on fostering of social cohesion, peace, child-based conflict resolution and minority rights in several national and international conferences like International Federation of Social Workers Global Conference 2020, Switzerland; Asia-Pacific Joint Regional Social Work Conference 2019, India; Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018, Dublin, Ireland; Conference on Child Rights & Sight – 2017, Yale University, USA; 4th Annual Global Well-Being and Social Change conference 2017, Philadelphia, USA.

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Dr. Ifthika “Shine” Nissar

[ Plenary Speaker ]


Early Childhood Education & Early Childhood Special Education,

United States 

Speech Title: “High-Quality Preschool Education for All Children: A Review of Research on Inclusive Practices” 

Ifthika “Shine” Nissar, Ed.D. Dr. Nissar’s educational and career journey as an Early Childhood Education Administrator began when she migrated to Palm Springs, USA from Sri Lanka in 1990. Dr. Nissar served as the Principal of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs at Desert Sands Unified School District and resigned to provide care for her mother with Dementia. She has served in administrative positions and provided leadership as a Program Specialist at Riverside County Office of Education, Frist 5 Children and Families Commission, and Program Director of ECE programs at the Family YMCA of the Desert. Shine has teaching experience from preschool to university. She has taught early childhood education and special education in the public and private school systems in the U.S. She has been serving as an adjunct faculty member at College of the Desert (COD), CA teaching child development courses since 2004. She served as an instructor at UC Davis – Extension, The Center for Excellence in Child Development for many years.

Dr. Nissar has extensive experience in ECE Program Administration & Leadership, Curriculum, Family Community Engagement & Parent Training, Early Childhood Special Education, Research, Early Intervention, Preschool Inclusive Practices, Professional Development & Conference Presentations in all areas of ECE along with Teaching Adults and Children.

Dr. Nissar’s advocacy efforts expands globally as she serves in many leadership committees to advocate for children and families to access education and services. Shine has earned recognitions and scholarships for her contribution to the community and academic achievements. California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) selected Dr. Nissar to serve as a Design Team Member for the Cal/Teacher Performance Assessments among other very selected professional in ECE.

Shine serves as the Vice President of the Eastern Region of the Consortium for Early Learning Services. She has provided leadership for the ECE Inclusion Conference since it began six years ago. Dr. Nissar was instrumental in the coordination of the staff of the Sumaga Special Needs School, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka participating in the 6th Annual ECE Inclusion Conference in 2020. When Shine learned the need for professional development, she began a monthly training program as a Professional Learning Community to guide and assist the staff to implement inclusive practices in ECE settings. Dr. Nissar served as the Co-President of the Coachella Valley Autism Society of America and was instrumental in developing the Young Adult Group. Dr. Nissar enjoys community service and mentoring.

Dr. Nissar earned her Doctorate Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from California State University San Bernadino (CSUSB) in 2020. Her research topic is Assessment of Inclusive Practices in Head Start Preschools: Access, Participation, and Supports. Shine is the only certified ECE Inclusion Facilitator for Riverside County by WestEd & California Department of Education (CDE).  Dr. Nissar earned her Administrative Services and Teaching Credentials from California CTC. She has a M.A degree in Educational Leadership from CSUSB. Shine obtained her 1st M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education and B.A. in Child Development at California State University Northridge (CSUSN).  She began her higher educational journey at COD, Palm Desert where she earned A.A. degree in Economics and Early Childhood Education.

Shine enjoys spending time with her husband Zinnoon, friends and family, advocacy, traveling, running, swimming, playing tennis., and gardening. She is a marathon runner, triathlete, and a century cyclist where she and finds work-life balance.    

To access Dr. Nissar’s published doctoral dissertation please visit the California State University ScholarWorks website. If you would like to learn about her doctoral journey, please visit her personal website which was created as an assignment of the doctoral program.