Dr Hafeez Merchant joined the STEP Liaison Unit in the Department of Community Relations as the Teacher Educator and Coach Mentor in August 2019. His responsibilities include mentoring Academic Directors, Regional and Teacher Leads in countries where STEP is being implemented. He will also support the department in conceptualising and delivering continuous professional development programmes for the STEP teachers in the field.

Dr Merchant started his career with ITREB India in 2005 as a graduate of the Human Resource Development Programme. He continued to support primary Ta‘lim teachers, and also completed his Professional Teacher Educator Programme through AKU IED. He then continued his education and graduated as a STEP teacher in 2011. He returned to India to work as a STEP teacher for three years before being promoted to become a Teacher Lead for the Mumbai region. Dr Merchant holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Master’s in Teaching, and a distinction in MA in Muslim Societies and Civilisations. He gained his doctorate in Education (Ed. D) from Georgia State University in May 2019, receiving a meritorious scholarship to complete his degree.

His research focused on mentor praxis and self-directed development. His qualitative case study that was built around social constructivism, concluded that while mentors are willing to offer their time, there is a need to harness their willingness by developing structured programming and spaces for this to occur. He will continue to develop programmes that would support the work of existing STEP teachers mentors, and also enable the institutions to build leadership capacities for future.

Before joining the IIS, Dr Merchant worked as a part time faculty member with Georgia State University and taught two undergraduate classes in Atlanta, organised and participated in myriad academic conferences in the USA.