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

Kristen Grauer

This Week at CEI

Team members Tara Hill and Michelle Engmann returned from a trip to Dakar, Senegal, where they observed a training of volunteer surveyors for Jangandoo, a citizen-led learning assessment funded by the Hewlett Foundation. Hewlett has commissioned CEI's parent organization, R4D, to conduct an external evaluation of its four assessment programs (including ASER in India and Uwezo in East Africa). Their work is featured in this week's image!

Congrats to STIR Education for hosting its first Teacher Changemaker Summit in Uganda this week. The convening brought together innovators and implementers from across East Africa to share their knowledge and experiences in the classroom. Learn more about STIR’s micro-innovations on CEI. And don't forget to check out these exclusive images from the event!

On Thursday, April 24th CEI's Managing Director Nicholas Burnett delivered a presentation at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education entitled Fostering Innovation in Education. Dr. Burnett began with an address on the critical need for innovation in the global education sector as well as our organization's unique role in fostering innovative solutions to education challenges. Listen to the full lecture here.

“The essence of innovation is changing things in ways that make a difference.”


Upcoming Events



  • May 6 | The Tech Awards - Nominate an individual or organization for outstanding technology solutions in one of five categories: Environment, Education, Young Innovator* (under the age of 27) Health, or Economic Development.
  • May 13 | Read Alliance Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge - Read Alliance calls for proposals in the field of early grade education. It seeks to discover, develop, and scale early grade reading innovations in order to improve the reading skills of at least five million Indian primary school students.
  • May 26 | ISIF Asia Awards - Nominations for the 2014 ISIF Asia Awards are now being accepted! Nominate an ICT project that is improving social and economic development in the Asia Pacific region. There are four funding categories, including Learning and Localization. 
  • May 31 | Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) Fellows Program - This competition hosted by UNIID-SEA and the Asian University Network (AUN) is seeking applicants from ASEAN countries for its Fellows Program. Winners will be awarded small grants to aid in the development of teaching and learning packages.
  • June 25 | Re-imagine Learning Challenge - The Lego Foundation, in partnership with Ashoka and Changemakers, calls for innovative education programs that encourage more playful, enthusiastic learning and develop creativity, imaginative problem-solving, teamwork, empathy, and inspiration skills. #Play2Learn
  • July 18 | Enabling Writers - All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is now accepting nominations for its $100,000 prize competition which incentivizes the development of software that helps writers draft texts to improve reading skills of children in developing countries.
  • August 31 | Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize - Applications for world’s first one million dollar teacher prize are now open. Nominate an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
  • Open Ended | Early Childhood Intervention Survey - The International Society on Early Intervention (ISEI) invites you to participate in a brief survey about the status of early childhood intervention in your country. The questionnaire should take only 20 minutes.
  • Open Ended | Atlas Corps Fellowship - This 12-18 month professional fellowship is offered three times a year for nonprofit leaders from around the world. Develop leadership skills from the Atlas Corps Nonprofit Management Series in either the U.S. or Latin America.


Education News

234 girls were abducted from their boarding school in Nigeria – Authorities believe that Boko Haram, recognized today as one of the most murderous terrorist groups in the world, is behind the chilling attack. The girls were taken in the middle of the night on April 16th while sleeping in their dormitories at Chibok School. Despite parents’ search attempts over the last two weeks, venturing into the area’s deep, remote forests, the girls have yet to be found. The name Boko Haram – which translates to “Western education is sinful” – speaks to the group’s motive for the kidnapping. Although, they have not officially claimed responsibility for the abduction, their terrorism is rooted in anti-education ideology, especially the education model left behind by Britain. 

New evidence on education discrimination in India -  On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled They Say We're Dirty: Denying an Education to India's Marginalized that featured a qualitative study on the kind of discrimination faced by children in the lowest strata of Indian society across four states, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh. Years after the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2010, children that belong to tribal groups, the Muslim community, and the Dalits are increasingly likely to drop out of school due to discrimination and intimidation. While the Indian government has achieved net enrollment of almost children between the ages of 6 and 14, retention rates are less promising and more difficult to track.


Point of Departure

A couple of weeks ago the Harvard Business Review (HBR) published a blog post entitled Why Entrepreneurs Will Beat Multinationals to the Bottom of the Pyramid based on the 2004 book Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad and Stuart Hart. In the decade between now and the book’s launch, there is little evidence to suggest that multinational corporations have expanded their reach to the “bottom billions” of people living on less than $4 a day. Rather, innovation has been largely driven by entrepreneurs – a group that Paul Polak and Mal Warwick of HBR assert is much better positioned to serve this audience because the essence of its work is in starting from scratch rather than leveraging existing businesses. According to Polak and Wariwck, entrepreneurs are able to implement a zero-based design approach by building inexpensive products from the ground up. They are also less restricted bureaucratic red tape.
WEIGH IN – Who do you think is better positioned to serve the world’s most economically disadvantaged people – multinationals or entrepreneurs? Do you think that both groups are equally agile and capable of constantly refining their products and services?


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