Andrew JC Cunningham

Andrew Cunningham is a Marshall and Truman Scholar pursuing a DPhil in education at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.

Over the last 10 years, Andy has emerged as a global leader in advancing access to quality education through innovation for the most marginalized children.

In 2006, Cunningham co-founded the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER) in Muhuru Bay, Kenya as the first girls’ secondary boarding school and community centre for development in the region.

In 2011, Cunningham earned his MSc. in Comparative International Education at Oxford University. Now, as a DPhil candidate, Andy’s research seeks to understand local realities of school leadership for school improvement in Kenya through the use of SMS-based exercises in action research across 812 public primary schools.

Throughout the last ten years, Andrew has served as an innovative education consultant for UNICEF, the World Bank, DC Public Schools, the International Education Funders Group (IEFG), World Learning, and Qatar’s Education Above All Foundation on issues ranging from children’s leadership in national education policy to the post-2015 development agenda for education worldwide.

Andy graduated summa cum laude from Duke University in 2008 with a double major in International Comparative Studies and Chinese. He is the recipient of the prestigious Robertson Scholarship Award, Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Award, Oxford’s Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Award (2014), The President of Duke University’s Beyond Duke Young Alumni Award (2014) and was named 1 of 100 Leaders of Tomorrow at the St. Gallen’s Symposium (2012). He has been a featured speaker at the United Nations Youth Assembly, UNICEF’s Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Education Summits, and the Kenyan Primary School Head Teachers Association Annual Conference sharing audience with His Excellency, the President among other dignitaries. His work has led him to travel and work in Jamaica, Cameroon, China, India, Tanzania, Malawi, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, and Kenya among others.


  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2015) How to Advance Child-Centered Innovation, Governance Reform and Quality Education in Kenya? A Discussion of Contemporary Educational Research, Policy and Practice for the 21st Century. Presentation. Oxford: University Said Business School.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2015) Let the Children Decide: How Primary School Pupils are Driving Innovation, Governance Reform and Quality Education in Kenya. Presentation. Comparative International Education Seminar Series: Politics, Policy and Persuasion in Education. Oxford: St. Antony’s College.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) Education Post-2015: The Unfinished Agenda – Looking Back, Looking Now and Looking Ahead: 10 Important Insights from Global Educational Research, Policy and Practice. Education Above All Foundation. Doha: EAA.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) Innovation in Measuring Quality Education through Mobile Phone Technologies and Online Information Management Dashboards. Presentation. Education Donor Coordinating Partners Group Annual Retreat. Nakuru, Kenya: EDCPG.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. and Hill, G. (2014) Primary School Children in Kenya Become Forces for Change. Stories of Innovation (published online 16 June 2014). Nairobi: UNICEF-Innovation. Available here.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. and Hill, G. (2014) Co-Designing with Children to Define Child-Friendly Schools in Kenya. Stories of Innovation (published online 28 May, 2014). Nairobi: UNICEF-Innovation. Available here.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) Mainstreaming Child-Friendly Schools into a Child-Friendly Education System: What it could Mean for Alternative Positive Disciplining? Presentation. ActionAID APD Conference. Nairobi: ActionAID.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) Understanding Quality Education through SMS: A Kenyan Case Study for the Somalia UNICEF Office. Presentation. Nairobi: UNICEF Somalia.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) 10 Minute M&E Case Study: Measuring Quality Education in Kenyan Public Primary Schools through Mobile Phone Technologies. Presentation. International Education Funders Group Bi-Annual Summit. Zurich: IEFG.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) Monitoring Results for Equitable and Equal Education in Kenya: A Case Study. Presentation. Government of Malawi and UNICEF Malawi Regional Workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation in Education. Lilongwe: UNICEF
  • Johnson, D., Datoo, A., and Cunningham, A.J.C (2014) Elections, Education and Social Cohesion in Kenya. (forthcoming)
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2014) School Leadership for Global Awareness: US, UK and Kenyan Case Studies. Presentation. Bedales School Innovation for Education Summit. Petersfield: Bedales School.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) Measuring Child-Friendliness through SMS: A Progress Report. Presentation. Kenyan Primary School Head Teachers Association 9th Annual Delegates Conference. Mombasa: KEPSHA.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) Bringing Young People to the Decision Making Table – the Impact of Children’s Governments in Kenya. Video. Nairobi: UNICEF-Kenya. Available here.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) Innovation in Education: Measuring Child-Friendly Schools through Mobile Phone Technologies. Presentation. UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Summit. Nairobi: UNICEF.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) Mobile Phone Technologies and Quality Education in Kenya. Presentation. Nairobi: Save the Children.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) Mainstreaming Child-Friendly Schools into a Child-Friendly Education System. Presentation. UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Office. Nairobi: UNICEF.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) Identifying a Pipeline of Innovations in Education for Kenyans at the Bottom of the Pyramid: 10 Promising Profiles and Partners, Washington D.C.: Results for Development
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2013) ‘Bringing Kenya’s young people to the decision-making table: What happens when a school elects its first (and second) student president?’, Nairobi: UNICEF Kenya.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2012) ‘Understanding Local Realities of Quality Education in Kenya: Parent, Teacher and Pupil Perspectives’,  Research in International Comparative Education, vol 7, no 3, pp 296-372. Available here.
  • Johnson, D., Cunningham, A.J.C., Dowling, R. (2012) Professional Teaching Competencies across 17 African Countries – a Meta Analysis of Published Governmental Expectations, New York: The World Bank.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2011) The Bigger Picture: Case Studies of Effective Child-Friendly Schools in Kenya. Nairobi: UNICEF.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2008) Balancing the Scales in Sino-African Relations: Transitions from Bilateral to Continental
  • Responses to China’s Emerging Hegemonic Interest in Africa. B.A. Honors Thesis. Duke University.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2006) ‘The Shift in Chinese Thrift: A Savings Culture with Costs’, Duke Public Affairs Journal, Duke University.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2005) ‘Remembering that which we want to forget, a memory of human rights’, Eruditio Humanities Journal, Duke University.
  • Cunningham, A.J.C. (2005) ‘Headed for the Rocks: US Methods of Interrogation at Abu Ghraib Prison’, Deliberations Writing Zine at Duke University, Duke University.


Runner-Up, OUDE 2014 Doctoral Impact Competition

Thesis title
Understanding local realities of school leadership in Kenya: 812 journeys of school improvement
Dr. David Johnson and Dr. Ann Childs

Research interests
School effectiveness, School Improvement, School Leadership, Kenya, SMS Technologies for Educational Research, Mobile Phones for Development (M4D), Innovation, Child-Friendly Schools (CFS), UNICEF, Quality Education, Post-2015 Agenda for Development, International Development, AID and education, Comparative International Education.


  • Research student

College affiliation

  • St Antony's College

Research groups

  • Comparative and International Education