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Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen



Research Fellow, DECRA


Faculty of Arts and Education


REDI Arts & Ed


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University, 2013


Dr. Tebeje Molla (Mekonnen) is a Research Fellow (ARC-DECRA) 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.

Tebeje has extensive experience in undertaking large-scale research projects. As a research fellow and a CI, he participated in a number of nationally funded projects that examined different aspects of educational disadvantage and equity instruments. He has also received internal funding support from Deakin University to investigate equity issues in higher education as well as in the early childhood education and care sector.

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.

On completing his postdoctoral fellowship, Tebeje has been awarded Australian Research Council's Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA, 2019-2021). His DECRA project explores higher education participation of refugee-background African youth in Australia.

Research interests

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

Teaching interests

  • Education policy
  • Sociology of education
  • Sociology
  • Qualitative research method

Units taught

2019: Supervised EDX704 Research Paper (‘Positioning’ the ‘role of teacher librarians’ in the Brisbane Hearings of the 2010 House of Representatives Committee Inquiry") to completion. 

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, and teacher professional learning.
  • Policy


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 reviews manuscripts submitted to the following journals:

  • Critical Studies in Education
  • Higher Education 
  • Higher Education Research and Development
  • Studies in Higher Education
  • European Educational Research Journal
  • Policy Futures in Education
  • Global Public Policy

Research groups

Research for Educational Impact (REDI)


Discovery Early  Career Award, DECRA (ARC, 2019)

Endeavour Research Leadership Award (DET, 2019)


Filter by


Identifying professional functionings of early childhood educators

T Molla, A Nolan

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


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


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


Supporting teacher professionalism through tailored professional learning

Andrea Nolan, Tebeje Molla

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


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

T Molla, A Nolan

(2019), pp. 1-12, International journal of research & method in education, London, Eng., C1


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, London, Eng., C1


Re-imagining Africa as a knowledge economy: premises and promises of recent higher education development initiatives

T Mekonnen, D Cuthbert

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


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

A Nolan, T Molla

(2018), Vol. 38, pp. 258-270, Early years : an international research journal, London, Eng., C1


Higher education in Ethiopia: structural inequalities and policy responses

T Molla

(2018), Berlin, Germany, A1


Teacher professional learning through pedagogy of discomfort

A Nolan, Tebeje Molla

(2018), Vol. 19, pp. 721-735, Reflective practice: international and multidisciplinary perspectives, Abingdon, Eng., C1


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


Teacher professional learning as a social practice: an Australian case

A Nolan, T Mekonnen

(2017), pp. 1-23, International studies in sociology of education, Abingdon, Eng., C1


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


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, London, Eng., C1


Teacher confidence and professional capital

A Nolan, T Mekonnen

(2016), Vol. 62, pp. 10-18, Teaching and teacher education, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Higher education in Ethiopia: Widening access and persisting inequalities

T Molla

(2014), pp. 125-138, Equality in Education: Fairness and Inclusion, B1


Higher education development and knowledge economy optimism in Ethiopia

T Mekonnen, T Mekonnen, T Gale, T Gale

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


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


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


Higher education policy reform in ethiopia: The representation of the problem of gender inequality

T Molla

(2013), Vol. 26, pp. 193-215, Higher Education Policy, C1-1


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


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


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


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


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

  • 2020: $15,793
  • 2019: $110,668


No completed student supervisions to report