Welcome to the June installment of The Puggle, your source for the emerging issues and findings related to girls’ education that the Echidna Giving team has come across this month!
As we enter the long hot days of summer and reflect on Father’s Day, it seemed appropriate that this edition cover how girls’ education and global warming are connected, and discuss the important role fathers play in their children’s learning and education. But first, we cover the increasing body of evidence of what works in education, particularly for girls.
This month, the RISE -- Research on Improving Systems of Education -- conference was held in Washington, DC. The event brought together high profile academics and policy makers to discuss the RISE research agenda. David Evans did a great round-up of highlights from the event in a World Bank blog post.
Ark recently conducted a rigorous review of the evidence on educational PPPs “public-private partnerships” in developing countries to evaluate their potential impact and found that the current evidence is limited. In the midst of recent analysis and debate, the field and education researchers are anxious to study the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) pilot program as a potentially significant source of learning.
In an exciting announcement, the Population Council launched the GIRL Center to shape research and investments on what works to improve girls’ lives. Building upon the world’s largest open data repository on adolescents, the GIRL Center will engage leading experts to identify and promote evidence-based approaches for addressing key issues affecting adolescent girls.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics issued the largest education data release of the year, including updated data for many of the global and thematic indicators used to monitor SDG 4. This interactive map gives a visual response to many questions, including, “Are girls completing secondary education at the same rate as boys?” This UNESCO report shows that gender gaps in access to education have reduced but that no region has achieved gender parity. According to analysis, it is sometimes boys who are disadvantaged, as is the case in eastern and south-eastern Asia. If you’re looking for more on the SDGs, check out PwC’s SDG selector.
Teach For Afghanistan, a branch of the global educational partnership Teach for All, is working against components of the deeply conservative culture in Afghanistan when it comes to girls’ education. Teach for Afghanistan is using their program to lead by example. While being able to read and write is traditionally considered sufficient education for a girl, Teach For Afghanistan fellows aim to demonstrate that continuing education and getting a good job does not preclude a girl from marriage or having children.
India, the country with the world’s largest education system, is struggling to educate its students. According to Pratham, only half of fifth-grade pupils (ten-year-olds) can read a story designed for second-graders and just a quarter are capable of simple division. Pratham is running high-intensity learning camps that adjust curriculum to the child’s learning level in 5,000 schools across India. With 20 million children reaching school age each year in India, ambitious efforts and quality reforms are needed to ensure that students are learning.
“Teenage Pregnancy Menace in Kenya, AFIDEP singled out inadequate access to education as the major cause fuelling the problem, as girls aged between 15-19 without education are about three times more likely to start childbearing.” In order for girls’ education to have the desired positive effect on climate change (and other societal challenges), countries will need to enact supportive policies for girls not just in order to delay first births but to reduce family size. However, Tanzania's President John Magufuli ruffled some feathers recently when he stated that young girls who get pregnant should not be allowed to return to school. Unfortunately, his comments are in line with a Tanzanian law passed in 2002 which states that girls can be expelled and excluded from school for "offenses against morality...and wedlock.”
Climate change is an increasing threat to education systems. Echidna Global Scholar Ellen Chigwanda speaks to her research on the implications of drought on school children, especially girls. She proposes a framework that is specifically designed to leverage education as a platform for building resilience in the face of climate change. At a macro level, Rebecca Winthrop and Christina Asquith argue that women and girls in developing nations will bear the brunt of the Unites States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement given their particular vulnerability from displacement. They note that educating women and girls is a significant lever in reducing population size, which in turn has a tremendously positive impact on reducing global warming. In his new book Drawdown, Paul Hawkins claims, “educating girls could reduce CO2 emissions by 59.6 gigatons by 2050, making it the sixth-most powerful solution, ahead of recycling and even solar panels.”
In celebration of Father’s Day, we are sharing some stories and research on the significance of fathers. This New York Times article looks at the increasing body of research on how mothers versus fathers influence early development and language acquisition, and explores the different way we treat infant girls and boys. The evidence base includes research on differences in caretaker vocalization, comparisons on interactions between fathers of sons and fathers of daughters, and emotional expressions by mothers versus fathers and the potential correlation to children's emotional understanding. In honor of Father’s Day, we highlight these three African fathers who are standing up against female genital mutilation and encouraging their daughters to receive quality education and these Kenyan brothers who are using their cricket team as a platform for fighting for their sisters’ rights.