Sadaf Shallwani

Sadaf Shallwani, PhD

I am an international early childhood and early education researcher and professional, focusing on young children and their families, and the school, community, and broader contexts within which they live and grow. I have training and experience in the disciplines of education, social work, and psychology. In addition to Canada, I have worked in various Majority world contexts, including Pakistan and Kenya (much of this through my work with the Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva).

My work through these different lenses, and in these different contexts, has deepened my understanding of the complexities of childhoods, families, and communities; and the need for research and theory to be contextually grounded and socially relevant. My research, theoretical, and professional work is driven by and guided by these notions.

I am interested in research, theory, and practice in a range of areas: early childhood development; early education (pre-primary and primary, and notions of ‘school readiness’); and human development in family, school, community, and broader social contexts. I am particularly interested in deconstructing and reconceptualizing mainstream notions of development and functioning.

My academic, research, and professional work are guided by values of social justice, equity, and human rights, including the rights of children.


  • Currently, I am the Director of Learning & Evaluation at Firelight Foundation, an international NGO which funds and strengthens catalytic community-based organizations that support the development, protection, education, and well-being of children and youth in eastern and southern Africa. My role is to examine the impact of our work on organizations, communities, and children and families.


Please feel free to get in touch with me around shared research interests, discussions, professional opportunities, and more.

Sadaf Shallwani