Center for Education Innovations: This Week's News & Views

Kristen Grauer

This Week at CEI

On the left is a photo of CEI's Colin Felsman speaking at the Deshpande Foundation Development Dialogue last month. Look out for a blog post summarizing the discussion and his trip to India. In the meantime, to learn more about education innovations in South Asia, check out the STIR forum which now highlights over 20 micro-innovations from India.

In other news, CEI's Nick Burnett and Nisma Elias published blogs this week on education financing. Nisma reported on an Education Systems Town Hall Event for UKCDS and collaborated with Nick on a piece for the Global Partnership for Education regarding loan buy-downs.

CEI is also recommended as a key online resource for a University of Pennsylvania graduate course on Policy Planning in International Education Development to be offered this spring. A report by Nick and Colin on the post-2015 education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is also included in the syllabus.

New evidence on ECD in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria was added to the Research and Evidence Library this week. These reports are the final two of a four-country series by the UBS Optimus Foundation on education in peri-urban Africa.



  • February 18-22 | UNESCO Mobile Learning Week - This event aims to explore mobile learning as an important contribution to achieving EFA goals. Opportunities include an open symposium and webinar to be held in Paris, France.
  • February 28 | King Boudouin Prize in African Development - Nominate an individual or organization for their outstanding contribution to the field of African development. 
  • March 15 | Post Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management - The Amani Institute is seeking candidates for its five-month program to take place in Nairobi, Kenya. Twenty-five spots are currently available. Apply now!
  • March 17 | Evaluation 2014 - The 28th Annual Conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), calls for proposals. Submit your best work in evaluation theory or practice by March 17th. This year’s theme is Visionary Evaluation for a Sustainable, Equitable Future.
  • March 24-26 | PSIPSE East Africa Regional Convening - The learning partners for PSIPSE, Results for Development (R4D), and the Center for Social Sector, Education, and Policy Analysis (CSSEPA) will be holding a regional convening for PSIPSE-supported projects in East Africa, donors, and other stakeholders. The 2 and 1/2 day convening will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • March 31 | The 2014 WISE Prize - The Wise Prize recognizes individuals or teams of up to six for outstanding contributions to education. Winners will be announced this November at the 2014 Summit in Doha, Qatar. Make a nomination today!


Education News

Three years after implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Law, basic learning outcomes in India remain worryingly low - While education spending has increased, enrollment is booming, and gender performance gaps have been reduced, the general quality of education as well as regional performance differences remain key issuesFindings from India's 2013 Annual State of Education Report (ASER) reveal that only 40% of students in rural schools are able to read at a Class I level and a mere 25% of Class 5 students can solve a basic division problem. Additionally, statistics show that almost 20% of of government schools lack professionally qualified teachers, a mere 1% improvement from the 2011-2012 school year. Writers from Live Mint suggest that government monitoring and evaluation strategies have been misdirected towards inputs, such as infrastructure and attendance rates, rather than learning  outcomes. They also claim that the lack of accountability in the public school system contributes significantly to low achievement as well as the vast influx of students into the private sector.

"If the law of the land is to be truly followed, then education and learning need to be guaranteed in all schools — whether private or government."

MENA region leaders discuss education and youth employability - According to the IMF, the MENA region ranks the highest in youth unemployment in the world and the lowest in terms of economic freedom. This January, MENA leaders convened for a round table discussion sponsored by the MENA Private Equity Association, emphasizing the need for better vocational and technical training opportunities for youth. They also highlighted how investors are reluctant to engage with the education sector due to instability and ambiguity within the regulatory environment. These conversations will continue in March at the 2014 Gulf Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) Conference in Dubai. This year's event is themed "Education and the 21st Century: Skills, Opportunities and Challenges," and will feature various speakers and education technology presentations, as well as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Research for Learning (RfL) seminars.

Conflict in South Sudan leaves 1.3 million children out of school - In a nation where 70% of its inhabitants are under the age of 30, any hopes for future development rely heavily on improving access to quality education. A new article from Brookings presents a variety of distressing statistics regarding the status of education in war-torn South Sudan. Approximately 50% of primary school students are out of school, only 1% of whom are likely to enroll in higher education. Each year, approximately 26% of students at each grade level stop attending school. With regard to learning outcomes, only 8% of sixth grade students could pass a basic mathematics exam. Furthermore, 61% of adult men and 85% of adult women are illiterate. While the new nation made progress towards a more effective education system in its early years, to succeed in the future it requires a greater commitment of support from the international community and a better mechanism for channeling humanitarian aid. It will also need the kind of tenacity and enthusiasm for learning displayed by students in the nation's capital, Juba, who refused to miss their final examinations last December despite a city-wide lockdown.

"Let’s hope the country’s renewed commitment to peace will also translate in renewed efforts on the part of the government and the international community to provide the nation’s children with the educational foundations for more prosperous lives."

Ethiopia and the United States are designated "Champion Countries" for the Global Education First Initiative - They join eleven other nations from each of the five UN regions. This title honors outstanding achievements in education, and seeks to provide other nations with a model that will encourage progress towards the Education for All and 2015 Millennium Development Goals. Ethiopia was commended for its success over the last decade, which includes raising school enrollment rates from 37% in 1999 to 87% in 2011, more than doubling its education funding between 2000 and 2010, and implementing a results monitoring strategy that emphasizes the quality of education delivery. The United States was honored for its education technology developments, including Open Education Resources, online and mobile learning platforms, as well as the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Program.


Point of Departure

This Thursday, the United Nations (UN) paid tribute to the international community's fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This issue brings to mind broader discussions on women's rights and the rights of the child, including the need to better inform women and children of these rights.

Thus, girls' education has become a top priority for several MDG advocacy groups such as the Global Education First Initiative launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2012. Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Secretary General spoke about his article "The Case for Investing in Girls," which stresses the importance of accelerating progress towards girls' education and empowerment. He highlighted research revealing that educated women experience less violence, are less likely to undergo female genital mutilation, and are more likely to participate in the political and public spheres. Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, participated in a special for CNN last week advocating the rights of young women. She asserted that investing in girls is investing in the success of a nation.

"If you invest in a girl, she feeds herself, educates future children, lifts up her community and propels her nation forward – charting a path that offers dignity for all in the process."

WEIGH IN - How do you think the international community can support marginalized girls? What other conversations from Davos inspired you or sparked your interest?

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