The Puggle: June 2018 Edition

Dana Schmidt, Echidna Giving

July 9, 2018

Welcome to Echidna Giving’s “Puggle,” where we share monthly updates on news and research related to girls’ education. Below we cover news from this eventful month including:

  • Joint commitments to women and girls;
  • Unique perspectives on the question “what about the boys?”;
  • New research findings, particularly on early childhood education; and
  • Events on comparative and international education

Joint commitments related to girls’ education. The G7 summit in Canada in early June catalyzed a $3 billion pledge for girls’ education and the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries commits to “increase opportunities for at least 12 years of safe and quality education for all and to dismantle the barriers to girls’ and women’s quality education, particularly in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states.” It is part of the larger Charlevoix G7 Summit Communique, which recognizes the need to remove barriers to women’s participation in social, economic, and political spheres. Separately, development finance institutions in the seven countries joined together to endorse the “2X Challenge,” a “plan to mobilize $3 billion for investments in developing countries that advance women’s leadership, employment, access to capital and other support for their economic participation and inclusion.”

In addition, the Gates Foundation announced its intention to invest $68 million over four years in improving education systems and learning outcomes. Its strategy focuses on improving learning outcomes and includes a pillar on understanding barriers to girls’ participation through secondary school.

Unique perspectives on the question, “what about the boys?”. UNESCO published a policy paper on Achieving gender equality in education: don’t forget the boys. It discusses the ways in which boys are falling behind (e.g. in Cambodia), and describes how “Actively addressing boys’ disadvantage in education could be transformative in promoting gender equality.” This blog suggests how educating boys for gender justice can be part of a solution.

Research out of the U.S. shows that gender differences are nuanced and show up differently in different contexts. For example, in wealthy neighborhoods girls are more disadvantaged in math—perhaps because there are more opportunities for families to reinforce gender norms.

New research findings, particularly on early childhood education. Save the Children put out a new report collating findings from 20,000 children in 38 countries where the International Development and Early Learning Assessment has been administered. The findings show that most students come to primary school ready in some ways and unprepared in others, and teachers must contend with a wide range of capabilities across their classes. In general, boys and girls have similar outcomes. Where there are differences, girls tend to perform better than boys. But despite this strong performance by girls in the early years, girls are disadvantaged later in education. So there are unanswered questions about what drives these later gaps—and whether anything more can be done in early childhood to mitigate them.

In a new book and accompanying blog, President of Malawi Joyce Banda argues that “by the time African girls turn 10, it is often too late to undo the damage that has already been done.”

What We Can Learn From Ghana's Obsession With Preschool and an accompanying episode of the Rough Translation podcast provides insights about and improving preschool outcomes—and how parents stand in the way. (This is part of a larger set of content from NPR on How to Raise a Human with a lot of great content, including this story: Why Grandmothers May Hold The Key To Human Evolution.)

Events on comparative and international education. The Oxford Symposium for Comparative and International Education, convened by the University of Oxford, the Aga Khan Foundation, and the Global Centre for Pluralism, explored big questions about the future of education under the theme  “Uncertainty, Society and Education.” The event fostered rich dialogue on the role of teachers, the promise of early childhood development, and the importance of social and emotional learning. Read winning essays on these topics here.

Later the same week was the annual, research-focused RISE conference. RISE is “a large scale, multi-country research program developed to answer the question: ‘How can education systems be reformed to deliver better learning for all?’.” The conference explored the latest research related to major elements of education systems including curriculum design, teacher training, assessments, and financing. The meeting concluded with a reminder that making a difference requires linking the nitty-gritty of research with bigger picture lessons for policy. Check out this summary or watch the entire conference stream here.