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Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen



Senior Lecturer


Faculty of Arts and Education


School of Education


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University, 2013


Dr. Tebeje Molla (Mekonnen) is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at Deakin University. Tebeje holds degrees in history education (Bahir Dar University, 2004), curriculum (Addis Ababa University, 2007), sociology of education (Aarhus University, 2009) and sociology (Monash University, 2013).

Tebeje has established a research program that focuses on understanding educational inequality and policy responses at systemic (national) and institutional (universities and schools) levels.

After he had completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Deakin, Tebeje was awarded Australian Research Council's Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA, 2019-2021). The DECRA project (2019-2022) focused on educational experiences and outcomes of African heritage youth from refugee backgorunds. 

Tebeje has published in high-impact international journals in his field. He also writes newspaper commentaries on Ethiopian politics and occasionally appears on the media (e.g. SBS Amharic) to discuss current affairs in relation to African communities in Australia.

Read more on Tebeje Molla's profile

Biography summary

Dr Tebeje Molla's research focuses on education policy, social inclusion, educational justice, research training policy, and teacher professional learning. Theoretically, his work is informed by critical sociology and a capability approach to social justice and human development.

Research interests

  • Trauma and learning
  • Education policy 
  • Educational justice
  • Social inclusion and education 
  • Educational experiences of refugee-background African youth
  • Graduate research training and employability
  • Teacher professional learning

Teaching interests

  • Trauma-responsive education
  • Trauma and leanring
  • Education policy
  • Sociology of education
  • Qualitative research method
  • Higher education 

Units taught

E512 (ETR704)

EDX704 Research Paper

EDX706 Minor Thesis

Knowledge areas

  • Education policy
  • Equity in education
  • Teacher professional learning
  • Graduate research training and employability


Tebeje's areas of expertise include policy analysis, equity research in education, critical social research, research graduate employability, teacher professional learning, and trauma and learning.
  • Africa
  • Education
  • Higher education
  • Policy
  • Refugees
  • Youth/young people's issues


Tebeje has presented his work at annual educational/sociological conferences including:

  • AARE: Australian Association for Research in Education
  • BERA: British Educational Research Association
  • ECER: European Conference on Educational Research
  • ICES: International and Comparative Education Society (USA)
  • TASA: The Australian Sociological Association
  • TIES: The Inclusive Education Summit

Professional activities

Tebeje is a member of the Refugee Council of Australia’s Education Special Interest Group. He is currently a co-convenor of AARE’s CALD SIG, and serves as a member of expert groups in ARC projects. He is also a member of the College of Reviewers (CoR) for the Higher Education Research and Development journal. In addition, Tebeje reviews manuscripts submitted to the following journals:

  • Critical Studies in Education
  • Discourse
  • Australian Journal of Education
  • Higher Education
  • Studies in Higher Education
  • European Educational Research Journal
  • Policy Futures in Education
  • Review of African Political Economy
  • International Joural of Inclusive Education

Research groups

Research for Educational Impact (REDI)


Mid-Career Researcher Award for Career Excellence (Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, 2021)

Bristol 'Next Generation' Visiting Researcher Award (University of Bristol, 2020)

Discovery Early  Career Award, DECRA (ARC, 2019)

Early Career Research Award (School of Education, Deakin University, 2019)

Endeavour Research Leadership Award (DET, 2018)

Postgraduate Publication Award (Monash University, 2012)


Filter by


African refugee youth in Australia: higher education participation

T Molla

(2022), Vol. 41, pp. 481-495, Higher Education Research and Development, C1

journal article

Preparing African students with refugee backgrounds for transition: School practices

T Molla

(2022), Vol. 66, pp. 5-25, Australian Journal of Education, C1

journal article

Equitable teaching for cultural and linguistic diversity: exploring the possibilities for engaged pedagogy in post-COVID-19 higher education

S Baker, J Anderson, R Burke, T De Fazio, C Due, L Hartley, T Molla, C Morison, W Mude, L Naidoo, R Sidhu

(2022), Vol. 74, pp. 444-459, Educational Review, London, England, C1

journal article

Crisis and policy imaginaries: higher education reform during a pandemic

Tebeje Molla, Denise Cuthbert

(2022), pp. 1-19, Higher Education, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Cultural Citizenship and Refugee Integration: The case of African youth in Australia

Tebeje Molla

(2021), pp. 37-54, Handbook of research on promoting social justice for immigrants and refugees through active citizenship and intercultural education, Hershey, Penn., B1

book chapter

Educational aspirations and experiences of refugee-background African youth in Australia: a case study

T Molla

(2021), Vol. 25, pp. 877-895, International Journal of Inclusive Education, C1

journal article

African Refugees in Australia: Social Position and Educational Outcomes

T Molla

(2021), Vol. 19, pp. 331-348, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, C1

journal article

Refugees and equity policy in Australian higher education

Tebeje Mekonnen

(2021), Vol. 5, pp. 5-27, Policy Reviews in Higher Education, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Building teacher professional capabilities through transformative learning

A Nolan, T Molla

(2021), Vol. 49, pp. 450-465, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, C1

journal article

Critical policy scholarship in education: An overview

T Molla

(2021), Vol. 29, pp. 1-30, Education Policy Analysis Archives, C1

journal article

The politics of critical policy sociology: mobilities, moorings and elite networks

G Savage, J Gerrard, T Gale, T Molla

(2021), Vol. 62, pp. 306-321, Critical Studies in Education, C1

journal article

Refugee education: homogenized policy provisions and overlooked factors of disadvantage

Tebeje Molla


journal article

Racial moral panic and African youth in Australia

T Molla

(2021), Vol. 84, pp. 95-106, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, C1

journal article

Researching experiences of African refugee youth in high-income countries: Reflections on conceptual challenges and possibilities

M Hailu, T Molla, A Johnson

(2021), pp. 1-9, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Researching professional recognition in a pre-school setting: a critical realist approach

T Molla, A Nolan

(2020), Vol. 43, pp. 271-282, International Journal of Research and Method in Education, C1

journal article

Teacher agency and professional practice

T Molla, A Nolan

(2020), Vol. 26, pp. 67-87, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, C1

journal article

Identifying professional functionings of early childhood educators

T Molla, A Nolan

(2019), Vol. 45, pp. 551-566, Professional development in education, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Access to languages other than English in Australian universities: an educational pipeline of privilege

T Molla, A Harvey, S Sellar

(2019), Vol. 38, pp. 307-323, Higher education research and development, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Positional matters: school leaders engaging with national equity agendas

T Molla, T Gale

(2019), Vol. 34, pp. 858-876, Journal of education policy, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Human Development Optimism and Political Pitfalls in Ethiopia

T Molla

(2019), Vol. 46, pp. 367-391, Forum for Development Studies, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Supporting teacher professionalism through tailored professional learning

Andrea Nolan, Tebeje Molla

(2019), Vol. 17, pp. 126-140, London review of education, London, Eng., C1

journal article

The problem of inequality in Australia's early childhood education and care sector: A policy frame analysis

T Molla, A Nolan

(2019), Vol. 63, pp. 322-339, Australian Journal of Education, C1

journal article

Educational aid, symbolic power and policy reform: the world bank in Ethiopia

T Molla

(2019), Vol. 17, pp. 331-346, London review of education, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Calibrating the PhD for Industry 4.0: global concerns, national agendas and Australian institutional responses

Tebeje Mekonnen, Denise Cuthbert

(2019), Vol. 3, pp. 167-188, Policy Reviews in Higher Education, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Higher education in Ethiopia: structural inequalities and policy responses

T Molla

(2018), Berlin, Germany, A1


Re-imagining Africa as a Knowledge Economy: Premises and Promises of Recent Higher Education Development Initiatives

T Molla, D Cuthbert

(2018), Vol. 53, pp. 250-267, Journal of Asian and African Studies, C1

journal article

Teacher professional learning in Early Childhood education: insights from a mentoring program

A Nolan, T Molla

(2018), Vol. 38, pp. 258-270, Early Years, C1

journal article

Teacher professional learning as a social practice: an Australian case

A Nolan, T Mekonnen

(2018), pp. 1-23, International studies in sociology of education, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article

Teacher professional learning through pedagogy of discomfort

A Nolan, T Molla

(2018), Vol. 19, pp. 721-735, Reflective Practice, C1

journal article

The illusion of meritocracy and the audacity of elitism: expanding the evaluative space in education

Trevor Gale, Tebeje Molla, Stephen Parker

(2017), Vol. 1, pp. 7-21, Policy and inequality in education, Singapore, B1

book chapter

Metaphor as a methodological tool: identifying teachers' social justice dispositions across diverse secondary school settings

C Mills, T Molla, T Gale, R Cross, S Parker, C Smith

(2017), Vol. 38, pp. 856-871, British journal of sociology of education, Basingstoke, Eng., C1

journal article

Teacher confidence and professional capital

A Nolan, T Mekonnen

(2017), Vol. 62, pp. 10-18, Teaching and teacher education, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Deliberations on the deliberative professional: thought-action provocations

Trevor Gale, T Mekonnen

(2016), pp. 247-262, Practice theory and education : diffractive readings in professional practice, Abingdon, Eng., B1

book chapter

In pursuit of the African PhD: A critical survey of emergent policy issues in select sub-Saharan African nations, Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa

T Molla, D Cuthbert

(2016), Vol. 14, pp. 635-654, Policy Futures in Education, C1

journal article

The politicization of the PhD and the employability of doctoral graduates: an Australian case study in a global context

D Cuthbert, T Mekonnen

(2015), pp. 95-111, Technology and workplace skills for the twenty-first century: Asia Pacific universities in the globalized economy, Basingstoke, Eng., B1-1

book chapter

PhD crisis discourse: a critical approach to the framing of the problem and some Australian 'solutions'

D Cuthbert, T Molla

(2015), Vol. 69, pp. 33-53, Higher education, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Inequality in Ethiopian higher education: reframing the problem as capability deprivation

T Molla, T Gale

(2015), Vol. 36, pp. 383-397, Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Social justice intents in policy: an analysis of capability for and through education

T Gale, T Mekonnen

(2015), Vol. 30, pp. 810-830, Journal of education policy, London, Eng., C1

journal article

The issue of research graduate employability in Australia: an analysis of the policy framing (1999-2013)

T Molla, D Cuthbert

(2015), Vol. 42, pp. 237-256, Australian educational researcher, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Higher education in Ethiopia : widening access and persisting inequalities

T Molla

(2014), pp. 125-138, Equity in education: fairness and inclusion, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, B1

book chapter

The World Bank and higher education reform in Ethiopia: knowledge aid and its undesirable effects

T Mekonnen

(2014), pp. 86-100, World yearbook of education 2014. Governing knowledge: comparison, knowledge-based technologies and expertise in the regulation of education, Abingdon, Eng., B1-1

book chapter

Neoliberal policy agendas and the problem of inequality in higher education: the Ethiopian case

T Molla

(2014), Vol. 12, pp. 297-309, Policy futures in education, Oxford, Eng., C1

journal article

Knowledge aid as instrument of regulation: World Bank's non-lending higher education support for Ethiopia

T Molla

(2014), Vol. 50, pp. 229-248, Comparative education, Abingdon, England, C1-1

journal article

Higher education development and knowledge economy optimism in Ethiopia

T Mekonnen, T Gale

(2014), Vol. 2, pp. 1-17, Knowledge cultures, Woodside, N.Y., C1-1

journal article

Qualitative inequality: experiences of women in Ethiopian higher education

T Mekonnen, D Cuthbert

(2014), Vol. 26, pp. 759-775, Gender and education, London, Eng., C1-1

journal article

Higher eduction policy reform in Ethiopia: the representation of the problem of gender inequality

T Molla

(2013), Vol. 26, pp. 193-215, Higher education policy, Basingstoke, England, C1-1

journal article

External policy influence and higher education reform in Ethiopia : understanding symbolic power of the World Bank

T Molla

(2013), Vol. 2, pp. 167-192, International journal of sociology education, Barcelona, Spain, C1-1

journal article

The `knowledge-intensive development' agenda and equitable access to knowledge: higher education in Ethiopia

T Molla

(2011), Vol. 12, pp. 35-55, World studies in education, Melbourne, Vic, C1-1

journal article

Widening access to lifelong learning for adults in Ethiopia: opportunities with recognition of prior learning

T Molla

(2010), Vol. 12, pp. 7-22, Widening participation and lifelong learning, Stoke-on-Trent, England, C1-1

journal article

Towards understanding epistemological assumptions of history teacher educators: my experience with phenomenological enquiry

T Molla

(2010), Vol. 25, pp. 27-45, Educational research journal, Hong Kong, C1-1

journal article

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Enhancing Higher Education Participation of African Refugee Youth

Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen

ARC DECRA - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

  • 2021: $126,478
  • 2020: $131,612
  • 2019: $110,668

Improving School Engagement of African Refugee Students

Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen

ARC Fellowships - Future Fellowships

  • 2023: $24,582
  • 2022: $102,860

Other Public Sector Funding

COVID-19 Online Learning Landscapes and CALDMR students: Opportunities and Challenges

Dr Lisa Hartely, A/Prof Loshini Naidoo, Dr Rachel Burke, Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen, Dr Clemence Due, Dr Joel Anderson, Dr Teresa De Fazio, Carolina Morison, Dr William Mude, A/Prof Ravinder Sidhu

NCSEHE National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Research

  • 2020: $3,046

Development of a Suite of African Heritage Culturally Safe Resources to Support Victorian School Leaders Develop More Inclusive Schooling Environments.

A/Prof Tim Corcoran, Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen, Dr Kerri Garrard, Dr Martin Potter, Mr Simeon Taylor, Mrs Maria Bates

DETVic Grant - Research - Department of Education and Training Victoria

  • 2022: $173,641

Industry and Other Funding

Cottage by the Sea-Where Young People Matter: Mentor Program

Prof Louise Paatsch, A/Prof Amanda Mooney, Prof Andrea Nolan, Prof Julianne Moss, Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen, Dr Sarah Healy

Cottage by the Sea, Queenscliff Inc

  • 2021: $14,998


Principal Supervisor

Omid Talebi Rezaabadi

Thesis entitled: Iranian Immigrants Discourse Struggles: a Case on Subjectivity and Second Language (L2) Selves

Doctor of Philosophy (Education), School of Education