Boko Haram won’t win

By Zannah Mustapha, founder of Future Prowess

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Today, a conference is being held to look at the humanitarian crisis unfolding in north-1eastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. I live this crisis every day. I have seen a thousand orphans who have lost both their mothers and their fathers to the violent conflict fought every day between soldiers and Boko Haram Islamists. The children and victims of the religious crises are suffering in silence, often victims of post-traumatic stress, with many having watched their parents being killed just because they were taught in a western school.

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Still learning about early learning in Ethiopia

By Jack Rossiter, Young Lives, Ethiopia

The potential of O-Class in Ethiopia

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Credit: Young Lives

In 2017, the research study I work for, Young Lives, released its first early learning publication: Scaling up Early Learning in Ethiopia: Exploring the Potential of O-Class [O-Class is a one-year pre-primary program, delivered by primary schools, organized for children before they enter Grade 1]. That paper concludes with a caution from a South African early learning specialist:

“’We shouldn’t put a bad [Reception Year] onto a primary school system facing many challenges simply because we have the money to roll it out’.”

While the evidence points to the potential of investing in early childhood, when it comes to delivering on that potential in a low-resource setting, there are many different routes to take in the design of ECCE, many of which, if not careful, can result in ‘bad reception years’ being tagged onto an already stretched primary education cycle. As the working paper notes, “at worst, mediocre ECCE programmes will not compensate for mediocre school systems; and children (especially poor children) will be the losers, and the promise of investment in ECCE scale-up will not be realised.”

The working paper explores the role for ECCE programmes in strengthening education systems to build sustainable futures using Ethiopia as a case study. It reports on Ethiopia’s remarkable progress in increasing access and enrolment in ECCE and investigates the challenge faced in delivering the potential of well-planned, quality programmes to scale. To understand this challenge, we must step beyond national enrolment statistics – and the working paper does just that. Continue reading

Posted in Early childhood care and education, Pre-primary education, sdg, sdgs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Multilingual teaching does more than just improve learning

imld2017_0The most widely read GEM Report publication is our paper last year on language policy in education. Why? Because there are about 6,500 languages spoken in the world today, and, as we showed in that study, a staggering 40% of the global population are learning in a language they don’t understand.

It doesn’t need explaining perhaps, that being taught by a teacher in a language you don’t speak at home will negatively impact your school performance and test results, but it continues to be a hotly contested topic around the world – as recent headlines from Argentina, India and Uganda illustrate.

Politics and ideology are two reasons the issue is contested, but cost is another. Multilingual teaching, the training needed to support it, and the revision of existing learning materials result in a hefty bill. This is why we should loudly celebrate when countries do make the leap to multilingual schools: The Ministry of Education in Malaysia made such an announcement after the GEM Report’s policy paper was released last year. Referencing our recommendation for children to receive at least six years of education in a language they understand, they announced they would be making 300 schools bilingual. Continue reading

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Evaluating Liberia’s private school partners: why policy decisions must be based on more than numbers

stuart-cameronBy Stuart Cameron, Senior Education Consultant at Oxford Policy Management.

‘Partnership Schools for Liberia’ (PSL) is a hot topic in education policy circles. A pilot programme outsourcing control of government primary schools to eight private providers, it has attracted considerable controversy, as it represents an unusual approach to public school reform. A key aspect of this controversy is the inclusion of for-profit Bridge International Academies as one of the providers. To respond to the criticism, the Liberian government commisisoned a randomised control trial (RCT) that would assess the success of the pilot, which will be rolled out initially in 94 schools.

The RCT, to be led by Justin Sandefur of the Center for Global Development and implemented by Innovations for Poverty Action, will test whether private management improves school management, teacher accountability, and student performance, with complementary analysis of sustainability, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and equity. The RCT aims to make a fair assessment of the outcomes of the programme by randomly assigning public schools to be privately managed and comparing these to the schools that remain in public hands.

Education International, the world federation of teacher trade unions, and ActionAid, an international NGO which serves in the steering committee of the Right to Education Project, recently circulated a call for qualitative research proposals, listing concerns about the RCT. In turn, the RCT team responded with a comprehensive defence of the RCT and a criticism of the call for proposals in this blog post. Continue reading

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Citizenship Education in Morocco: How civil society organizations can help

Elarbi Imad, President, Moroccan Center for Civic Education

Recently, there has been growing interest in citizenship education across the world. With the rise of the Arab Spring there has been recognition within Morocco that citizenship education can help equip youth with knowledge and skills for active participation in their society. The strong social mobilization triggered by the uprisings brought about unprecedented popular demands to combat corruption and promote democratization, freedom, and human dignity.  NGOs are actively engaged in this process, not only as providers of citizenship education, but also as facilitators in the interface between schools and communities.

gcedAlthough Moroccan youth constitute almost a third of Morocco’s population, according to the World Bank, their “participation in civic life is very low” and “most of their time is spent on unstructured personal activities.” However, as the 2016 GEM Report showed in the PEACE chapter, citizenship education in schools, if correctly constructed, can provide an enabling environment to help students learn human values such as democracy and human rights, and prepare them for greater involvement in their communities. The challenge now is to take this one step further and ensure that various programs and training workshops are equipping educators with effective tools for the teaching of global citizenship education. Fortunately, a number of civil society organizations in Moroccan have started filling in this gap. Continue reading

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Taxing the rich to pay for college education for the poor in San Francisco

7257004894_5cc5569f4d_oLast week, San Francisco, a city on the west coast of the United States, hit the news by announcing free tuition for all residents to the local public community college starting this fall.

The offer is only available at one institution: the public community college in town, the City College of San Francisco. Free tuition will be accessible for all California residents living in San Francisco and taking courses for credit. The announcement comes on the heels of similar initiatives in Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee and recent announcements in New York and Rhode Island.

“This is an investment in our youth, in our city and in our future,” said Mayor Ed Lee, “Education costs shouldn’t be a barrier to self-improvement. […] At a time when the political rhetoric is punishing those who are less fortunate, San Francisco has again united around our values and taken the national lead on this important issue of equality.”

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Posted in Developed countries, higher education, tertiary education | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hidden figures: showing the importance of women in science

captureTomorrow is the second year of celebrating the new UN Day on Girls and Women in Science. This subject seems to be picking up steam. It has even hit the big time – featuring in a blockbuster Hollywood film, Hidden Figures, about the role of black women responsible for doing the equations behind the space trips of astronauts for NASA. Formally recognizing this issue in a UN day – a previously hidden manifestation of gender inequality – is worth celebrating.

It’s worth remembering that gender equality in education cannot be boiled down just to what’s going on in the classroom. The links between education and work show why. What happens in the labour market can affect what happens in schools and universities. The different ways that women and men participate in labour markets is not just down to the level of education they have under their belts, but is also due to the influences of cultural norms, stereotypes and discrimination.

Smashing the glass ceiling

Within institutions, women can find it difficult to reach senior positions, hitting a ‘glass ceiling’. Likewise, relatively few women occupy senior leadership positions in key economic institutions. Significant pay gaps exist between women and men doing the same job in virtually all occupations. In many high-income countries, even though more women complete secondary education than men, still men will earn more. Continue reading

Posted in Equality, Gender, ICT, STEM, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment