Name Card
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Professor Rao, Nirmala 劉麗薇

Serena H.C. Yang Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education
Chair Professor

Contact Information
Professional Qualifications
YearAwarding InstitutionQualification
Bangalore UniversityB.A.
Tulane UniversityM.S.
Tulane UniversityPh.D.

Nirmala Rao is Serena HC Yang Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong.  A Developmental and Chartered (Educational) Psychologist by training, she has been recognised internationally for her research on early childhood development and education in Asian cultural contexts. This research has focused on (i) the development of psychometrically robust and culturally-sensitive measures of both Early Childhood Development and the quality of Early Childhood Education; (ii) early educational policy in the Asia-Pacific; (iii) evaluation of early childhood programmes with the objective of finding out why they have the effects that they do; and (iv) culture, policy and pedagogy in the early years.

            Professor Rao is recognized as a leader in shaping the research and policy agenda related to the quality of early childhood education in the Asia Pacific region and has been credited with enhancing the international visibility of regional research in early childhood through her scientific publications.  She has participated in international meetings as an expert/specialist, written advocacy materials, and undertaken consultancies for UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, DFID, OECD and the Brookings Institute.  Notable recent projects are the development of the East-Asia Pacific Child Development Scales which won a Best of UNICEF Research (2015) award, being a core member of the team that developed the Measurement of Early Learning Environments survey as part of inter-agency project on Measurement of Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (Brookings Institute, 2016) and the development of the conceptual framework and pilot items for the Survey of Teachers in Pre-primary Education (UNESCO, 2016).

            Professor Rao has published widely and has authored over 100 international peer refereed journal articles, books, book chapters and research reports and presented over 50 invited papers on early childhood development and education, child development and educational policy, and educational psychology.  She also serves on the Editorial Board for several journals and is currently an Associate Editor of Child Development and has recently completed a term as Associate Editor of Developmental Psychology. She was a member of the Steering Committee for the 2017 Lancet Series on Early Child Development. Professor Rao is also actively involved in professional organisations that aim to promote the well-being of children through research and advocacy efforts.

           In addition, she has had significant administrative leadership roles at The University of Hong Kong within the Faculty of Education from Associate Dean to Interim Dean. Her main contribution in terms of administrative service from 2010 to 2016 was to the Graduate School that overseas research postgraduate education in all ten Faculties of The University of Hong Kong. She was in charge of strategic leadership and the day-to-day matters as Associate Dean (2010-2013), Director of Graduate Studies (2012-2013) and Dean (2014-2016).  

Honours, Awards & Prizes
AwardeesAward DateHonours / Awards / PrizesCategory
Liang, Q
Lan, M
Zhang, Y
Pan, Q
Lam, P
2021-07-01Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award 2021: Co-creating a New Normal of Empowered Learning through Digital Citizenship Research: The University of Hong Kong
Lee, PLD
2015-06-01Best of UNICEF Research (BOUR): UNICEF Office of Research (2015). Early Childhood Development in East Asia and Pacific: Culturally sensitive testing
Research Achievement
2014-01-01Eminent Visiting Professor: Universiti Brunei Darussalam
Research Achievement
2013-11-01Endowed Professorship - Serena HC Yang Professorship in Early Childhood Development and Education: The University of Hong Kong
Research Achievement
2014-01-01Research Output Prize 2012-13: Faculty of Education, the University of Hong Kong
Research Achievement
2010-01-01Faculty Outstanding Research Supervisor Award 2010: The University of Hong Kong
Research Achievement
Professional Societies
Term PeriodPositionProfessional Societies
Fellow and MemberBritish Psychological Society
MemberInternational Society for the Study of Behavioral Development
Fellow and MemberHong Kong Psychological Society
MemberSociety for Research in Child Development
Executive Committee MemberHong Kong Committee on Children' Rights
MemberAmerical Psychological Society
MemberHong Kong Educational Research Association
Fellow and MemberHong Kong Psychological Society
Executive Committee MemberOMEP (World Organisation of Early Childhood Education)
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