Prof Emma Pearson

Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education


School of Education
(01) 474 4145


I moved to Maynooth from Abu Dhabi, where I was employed as a Senior Researcher by the UNICEF Gulf Regional Office and as an Associate Professor at United Arab Emirates University. I have held positions at Sheffield University, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Macquarie University (Sydney) and The University of Hong Kong. I completed my undergraduate degree at Goldsmith’s, University of London and postgraduate degrees at The Open University (UK), Macquarie University and The University of Hong Kong. I have taught across a wide range of subjects at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level. Previous administrative duties have included coordination of masters and doctoral programmes, and leadership of mentorship and international outreach programmes.

My research and outreach work centres around understanding and documenting the perspectives and experiences of children and families from under-represented communities. During the past 15 years, I have worked with international, regional and national government and non-government early childhood agencies (including UNICEF, UNESCO, Plan International and the UK Department for International Development / FCDO) to advocate for policies that promote community-centred, equitable access to early childhood education and development supports. This work has included regional, policy-oriented analyses of early childhood education and care across South Asia (UNICEF) and Sub-Saharan Africa (UNESCO); facilitation of the drafting stages of the Pacific Guidelines for the Development of National Quality Frameworks for ECCE, and research on international early childhood workforce issues (reported at invited sessions with the International Labour Organisation and The World Bank). I have also supported  national teams in Laos, North Korea, Vietnam and Vanuatu to develop and validate country-specific Early Learning and Development Standards (UNICEF) and have worked for over a decade with Plan International on developing systems for contextualised monitoring and evaluation of their community-based early childhood intervention strategies in Cambodia.


Research Interests

International early childhood policy and pedagogy; early childhood care and education workforce; understanding the capabilities and needs of children and families at risk of marginalisation.

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
Early childhood experiences of development and learning in conflict zones: A study of adaptive response trajectories PI 01/01/2022 15/12/2023
Understanding processes of diagnosis, referral and provision of on-going supports for young children with developmental delay in Abu Dhabi PI 01/01/2022 01/06/2023
Sub-Saharan Africa regional consultations and background report on Early Childhood Care and Education in Sub-Saharan Africa PI United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 01/06/2022 31/12/2022
Understanding teacher retention and sustained teacher presence in conflict-affected communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) PI 01/03/2021 01/08/2022
Situational analysis of childhood well-being in the United Arab Emirates Senior Researcher 01/07/2021 01/06/2023
Mapping study of UNICEF's pre-primary initiatives in Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Bhutan; India; the Maldives Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka PI 01/03/2017 01/01/2018
Reaching expert consensus on training early childhood practitioners in ‘low-resource’ contexts: A Delphi Study PI 02/01/2017 02/10/2017
Baseline and evaluation studies to support integrated Early Childhood Programmes for indigenous children and families PI 29/07/2014 01/01/2021
Documenting ‘noteworthy’ early childhood programmes for ‘hard to reach’ children and families across the Asia Pacific region PI 01/04/2015 01/01/2016
Education, Well-being and Nation Building in Brunei Darussalam: Community Engagement in Education (CEiE): Building Quality Early Childhood Education in Brunei Darussalam PI - Early Childhood workplan 01/01/2013 01/01/2015

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2024 Pearson, E; Degotardi, S (2024) '‘Innovating’ to promote equity and inclusion in early childhood education: a framework for documenting localised pedagogical approaches'. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, (Online first).
2024 Yang, H; Rao, N; Pearson, E (2024) 'Inequality in access to early childhood care and education programs among 3-to 4-year-olds: Trends and variations across low-and middle-income countries'. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 66 :234-244.
2024 Pearson, E; Opoku, MP (2024) ''From my world to yours…': exploring the availability of social networks among parents from culturally diverse backgrounds caring for children with developmental disabilities in Australia'. Psychology, health & medicine, 29 (2). [DOI]
2024 Opoku, M; Pearson, E; Elhoweris, H; Alhosani, N; Mustafa, A; Afstratopoulou, M; Takriti, R (2024) 'Fidelity of family centered care model to early disability diagnosis and rehabilitation in the United Arab Emirates'. PLoS ONE, . [DOI]
2023 Pearson, E; Rao, N; Siraj, I; Aboud, F; Horton, C; Hendry, H (2023) 'Workforce preparation for delivery of nurturing care in low- and middle-income countries: Expert consensus on critical multisectoral training needs'. Child: Care, Health and Development, 50 (1). [Link] [DOI]
2023 Pearson, E.C.; Rawdin, C.; Ahuja, R. (2023) 'A Model of Transformational Learning for Early Childhood Community-based Workers: Sajag Training for Responsive Caregiving'. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 32 . [Link] [DOI]
2015 Rao, N; Pearson, E (2015) 'Assessment of child development across cultures'. Assessment, 73 (3):7-9.
2013 Degotardi, S; Sweller, N; Pearson, E (2013) 'Why relationships matter: parent and early childhood teacher perspective about the provision afforded by young children's relationships'. International Journal of Early Years Education, 21 (1):1-18. [DOI]
2012 Rao, N; Jin, S; Pearson, V; Pearson, E; Liu, H; Constas, M; Engle, P (2012) 'Is something better than nothing? An evaluation of early childhood programs in Cambodia'. Child Development, 83 (3):864-876.
2011 Pearson, E (2011) 'Avoiding recolonisation in early childhood: promoting local values as mediators in the spread of globalisation'. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 12 (3):34-37.
2009 Degotardi, S; Pearson, E (2009) 'Relationship theory in the nursery: Attachment and beyond'. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 10 (2):144-149.
2009 Pearson, E; Degotard, S (2009) 'ducation for sustainable development in early childhood: A global solution to local concerns?'. International Journal of Early Childhood, 41 (2).

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2022 Rao, N; Pearson, E; Piper, B; Lau, C (2022) 'Building an effective early childhood education workforce' In: Quality early learning: nurturing children's potential. Washington DC : World Bank: Human Development Series.
2017 Pearson, E; James, J (2017) 'Building early childhood education from the ground up: teacher preparation in Vanuatu' In: Contemporary issues and challenges in early childhood education: Experiences from Asia-Pacific. Dortrecht : Spinger. [DOI]
2016 Pearson, E; Yacub, R; Mohamad, H (2016) 'Towards Wawasan Brunei 2035: early childhood education and development in Brunei Darussalam' In: International Handbook on Early Childhood Education and Development. Dordrecht : Springer.
2016 Degotardi, S; Pearson, E (2016) 'Infant play: how interactions build and support relationships' In: Children’s play in early childhood education: Facilitating learning in diverse contexts (2nd Ed). Malbourne : Oxford University Press.
2014 Pearson, E (2014) 'Early education and care in the world regions' In: International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. USA : Elsevier.
2014 Pearson, E; Mohamad, H; Zainal Z (2014) 'Cultural and linguistic diversity in early childhood' In: A good start: Inclusion in the early years. Melbourne : Oxford University Press.
2013 Pearson, E (2013) 'Engaging parents from immigrant backgrounds in early intervention' In: Children and Childhoods. UK : Cambridge Scholars Press.
2010 Degotardi, S; Pearson, E (2010) 'Knowing me, knowing you: The relationship dynamics of infant play' In: Play in early childhood education: Learning in diverse contexts. Melbourne : Oxford University Press.
2009 Bowes, J; Watson, J; Pearson, E (2009) 'Families as a context for children' In: Families and Communities: Contexts and Consequences. Melbourne : Oxford University Press.


Year Publication
2014 Degotardi, S; Pearson, E (2014) The relationship worlds of infants and toddlers. UK: Open University Press: McGraw Hill.
2014 Rao, N; Pearson, E; Cheng, K; Taplin, M (2014) Teaching in primary schools in China and India: Contexts of learning. UK: Routledge. [DOI]

Other Journal

Year Publication
2015 Pearson, E (2015) 'Achieving inclusion by targeting children and families in hard to reach communities: innovations from Cambodia and the Philippines' Childhood Education, 91 (6) :411-419.
2006 Pearson, E; Rao, N (2006) 'Early childhood education policy reform in Hong Kong: challenges in effecting change in practices' Childhood Education, 82 (6) :131-146.

Published Report

Year Publication
2024 Pearson, E; Alhosani, N; Takriti, R; Al Mughairbi, F; Al-Sharieh, S; Al-Rifai, R; Al Zaatari, W; Schofield, L (2024) Situational analysis of children in the United Arab Emirates. UNICEF, .
2023 Pearson, E; Opoku, M (2023) Regional report for Sub-Saharan Africa : education starts early ; progress, challenges and opportunities. UNESCO, .
2017 Pearson, E; Umayahara, M; Ndijuye, L (2017) Supporting childhood resilience through play: A facilitation guide for early childhood practitioners. Part of the China-Africa collaboration project for building a peaceful and sustainable future. Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Prescolaire (OMEP), . [Link]
2017 Pearson, E; Hendry, H; Rao, N; Aboud, F; Horton, C; Siraj, I; Raikes, A; Miyahara, J (2017) Reaching expert consensus on training different cadres in delivering early childhood development at scale in low-resource contexts. United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, . [Link]
2015 Sun, J; Rao, N; Pearson, E (2015) Achieving Goal 1. Policies and strategies to enhance the quality of early childhood educators. UNESCO, . [Link]

Invited Lectures

Year Publication
2015 Pearson, E (2015) Strengthening ‘platforms’ from the ground up (in the Asia Pacific region). USA Institute of Medicine (IOM) Board on Global Health and National Research Council (NRC): [Invited Lectures]

Invited Seminars

Year Publication
2021 Pearson, E (2021) Invited Speaker, Attracting, Training, and Retaining Teachers: World Bank’s Engaging Policymakers Workshop Series on Quality Early Learning initiatives. [Invited Seminars]
2021 Pearson, E (2021) Invited speaker: Engaging Policymakers in Early Childhood, Session on the ECE Workforce (World Bank Policymakers series). [Invited Seminars]
2013 Pearson, E (2013) Fulfilling child rights through ECD in Asia and the Pacific. Presentation at Preparatory Meeting for UNICEF High Level Meeting on Child Rights. UNICEF EAPRO: [Invited Seminars]
2013 Pearson, E (2013) Dissemination Seminar on the Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on Proposing an ECD Goal in the Post-2015 Global Development Framework. UNICEF East Asia Pacific region: [Invited Seminars]

Key Note Address

Year Publication
2023 Pearson, E (2023) Building systems for gender-transformative, inclusive and equitable Early Childhood Care and Education. Keynote presentation at Investing in Early Childhood Care and Education in the Arab Region for a more gender equal world of work, International Labour Organisation and the Government of Jordan. ILO: UNESCO: [Key Note Address]
2018 Pearson, E (2018) Lessons learned from a mapping study of UNICEF’s early learning interventions in South Asia. Keynote presentation delivered at 3rd Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education. ARNEC / UNICEF / UNESCO: [Key Note Address]

Other Publication

Year Publication
2016 Pearson, E (2016) Enhancing quality in ECCE across diverse settings: innovations in pedagogical approaches. Keynote presentation delivered at UNESCO-sponsored Asia-Pacific Regional Ministerial Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education. UNESCO: Asia Pacific Bureau:
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
UK Higher Education Authority Senior Fellow -

Editorial / Academic Reviews

Amount Role From / To
European Research Council Reviewer -
Early Childhood Research Quarterly Member of the Editorial Board -
Child Development Consulting Editor 01/01/2015 - 01/06/2021

Outreach Activities

Organisation Type Description
UNESCO Civic Society Ministerial panel facilitator. ECCE teacher and caregiver development systems, UNESCO World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education, November 14-16, Tashkent 2022, Uzbekistan.