<div class="title-block" style="border-bottom-color: #b56b79"><h1><img class="title-image" src="http://www.heart-resources.org/wp-content/themes/heart/images/education.svg">Education</h1><div class="post-type-description"></div></div> – Health and Education Advice and Resource Team http://www.heart-resources.org Providing DFID staff and other development actors with health, education and nutrition knowledge and expertise from around the world Fri, 02 Mar 2018 13:10:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 DFID’s work on education: leaving no one behind? Reflections on IDC report http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/dfids-work-education-leaving-no-one-behind-reflections-idc-report/ http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/dfids-work-education-leaving-no-one-behind-reflections-idc-report/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:41:42 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=blog&p=30284 Read more]]> It is good news that the International Development Committee (IDC) report on DFID and its education activities has been published on 21 November 2017. Interrupted by the June 2017 election, there were doubts that the Committee’s work would be completed. Thankfully, and with further evidence from DFID, the report makes an important statement about the need to accord greater priority to education in DFID programming, ahead of the Department’s ‘refresh’ of its education policy framework early in 2018.

The report assesses whether DFID’s official support for global education is financed and programmed appropriately to help to meet the goal of leaving no one behind. Its introduction sets out the IDC’s overall conclusion: The Department needs to demonstrate a long-term, sustainable commitment to support access to inclusive, quality education in all its partner countries. The role of education in underpinning all other aspects of development should make it a top priority for the UK. Within that, DFID’s clear commitment to the poorest makes a focus on the most marginalised children the most appropriate policy response.

The report tests DFID’s record and forward thinking in three related areas: financing global education, improving access to education, and improving the quality and equity of education.

Financing global education

On finance, the report promotes three, well-rehearsed arguments. First – but not in the order of the report, and somewhat hidden in its text – it notes that ODA spending on education as a proportion of total spending on education in developing countries is less than 4%. This fact is surely the core of the SDG4 challenge. But rather tamely, the report recommends that the UK Government should, wherever possible, use its influence with partner countries to encourage greater domestic spending on education. Experience suggests that support for governance and public expenditure reforms and initiatives will be more productive than education programmes in this regard.    

Second, the report concludes that education receives too little of UK ODA spend. The report tries – with some difficulty, given the increase in aid through UK government departments other than DFID – to map trends in education spend in recent years. It notes a drop from 10.14% (2011) to 7.17% of total net UK ODA spend in 2015. The most recent DFID aid statistics (issued after the publication of the report) show a rise in education spend from £652 million in 2015 to £964 million in 2016; this is accounted for, in part, by a contribution of £106 million to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Education constituted 11.3% of bilateral spend in 2016; the fifth largest sector. But it is much more difficult to track education spend through multilateral organisations. Overall, it is a weakness that no attempt is made to disaggregate expenditure in terms of sub-sector or in relation to the most marginalised and disadvantaged. The report’s general injunction is for a significant increase in the amount of UK ODA allocated to education over the course of the next spending review period within a value for money (VfM) framework, but it does not elaborate on what this means for effective ways of working. And the report rightly enjoins DFID and partners to provide better justifications of education spend in language amenable to politicians.

Third, the IDC cites the important role that the UK can and should play in maximising the benefits of multilateral funding mechanisms for education. It is supportive of the GPE, arguing, a little generously, that the partnership has a unique approach to improving the education systems in developing countries. It recommends that DFID should agree to the full financial contribution requested by GPE at the next replenishment whilst encouraging other donors to step forward too. It is more muted on the International Financing Facility for Education (IFFEd), concluding that DFID should support the IFFEd, as an additional mechanism for leveraging funding into the provision of global education.

The Committee believes that there is a golden opportunity in DFID’s refreshed education policy to affirm its commitment to increased and sustainable levels of funding for global education and demonstrate how it will work across Government to achieve results for education around the world. The policy framework is very unlikely to include spending commitments, but it could usefully put some more flesh on the bones of the Committee’s three areas of financing imperatives.

Improving access to education

As is customary, access and quality are treated separately: a false dichotomy if policy and practice is to have coherence. The sections under access on early learning and private sector schooling make this point clearly. That said, the chapter on access focuses rightly on the most marginalised and the hardest to reach. It cites Lord Burt … this is what we [the UK Government] believe our remit is. Girls and young women, children caught up in emergencies, and disabled young people are identified as requiring targeted intervention. The fact that most of these children suffer from multiple disadvantage comes through implicitly. In reality, responsive programming requires a comprehensive cross-sector approach.

DFID is encouraged to develop country-specific strategies for marginalised girls’ education, based on detailed knowledge of the barriers in each context and learning from successful interventions. It is asked to move from its work on its disability framework (DFID 2014/15) to shine a light on the needs of disabled children and ensure this [the framework] is being implemented across all DFID programmes. And on emergencies, the report argues, rightly, the need for a long-term, integrated strategy for supporting education in emergencies; getting affected children back into structured learning environments as a priority, alongside clean water, food, sanitation and shelter. It will be a surprise if the new policy framework does not address these recommendations head on. They lie at the heart of no one left behind.

The chapter on access also examines the role of early learning and the role of non-state providers. DFID is a late convert to early childhood care and education (ECCE) but is now encouraged to invest more in pre-primary education, bilaterally and multilaterally. The section on private education identifies the need for much stronger evidence on the benefits of private sector schooling for the most disadvantaged. Citing an ICAI report it notes … DFID lacks the evidence to make informed judgments as to what combination [working with governments and/or private providers] offers the best value for money in which contexts. The report spends some time examining the case of Bridge Schools, which are under much public scrutiny, but a side effect of this focus is a failure to take a more nuanced looked at the extraordinary range of non-governmental schooling. In particular, the report underplays the vital roles that community- and faith-based organisations, not-for-profits and some private organisations play in expanding access to quality and context-specific education for marginalised groups. And in turn, it risks neglecting the critical importance of strengthening governments’ abilities to ensure they get the best out of the non-government sector.

Tucked away in the middle of the chapter is a very short section on VfM; an odd location, as this topic cuts across all of DFID education programming. However, the IDC rightly stresses the importance of DFID clarifying and ensuring that its value for money approach is fit for purpose when targeting the most marginalised children. This is not straightforward: education could learn from how other sectors measure – and therefore justify – the additional ‘value’ of reaching marginalised groups

Improving the quality and equity of education

Pedantically, the heading of Chapter 4, ‘Improving the Quality and Equity of Education’ could be better stated as ‘Improving equitable access to meaningful learning opportunities for all’. ‘Quality’ and ‘Equity’ run the danger of becoming unhelpful catch-all terms. It is a remarkably brief section for such weighty subject matter. It has very little to say about teaching and learning, about schools and their teachers and communities; and about learning strategies for the most disadvantaged. It has – but very briefly – sensible things to say about systemic reform and politically-informed programming. It underscores the importance of data and research (though not, unfortunately anything about long-term DFID education programme evaluation). It recognises the need for specialist in-house DFID education sector expertise. It wisely recommends continued support for the Global Education Monitoring Report. Yet overall, the story line is much weaker than the section on access, partly because learning strategies are dealt with, at least in part, within Chapter 3.

The IDC report is welcome. There has been a paucity of public debate on DFID education policy for a while. The position paper of 2013 is the last substantive statement. The evidence received by the Committee, orally and through written submissions (including from UKFIET) is of considerable value in itself. Its focus on the most marginalised is right and forceful. But the report is almost entirely concerned with basic schooling, including, rightly, pre-primary. It argues for a systems-wide approach but is largely quiet on skills for livelihoods. It acknowledges cross-sector programming but fails to examine the how beyond the what. We now wait to see whether the report’s argument carries weight in the DFID education policy ‘refresh’.

By Steve Packer (UKFIET Board of Trustees) and Ian MacAuslan (Oxford Policy Management)

This blog was originally posted on UKFIET on 11 December 2017. Reposted with permission.


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Jordan – Education Sector Fiduciary Risk Assessment Update http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/jordan-fra-update/ http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/jordan-fra-update/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 13:19:02 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=assignment&p=30011 Read more]]> The purpose of this Fiduciary Risk Assessment (FRA) for Jordan is to update and expand on the FRA that was prepared in May 2016 at the country level for the education sector, including with a focus on the implementation of the Jordan Compact Education Programme, which is supported by the Department of International Development (DFID).

The FRA finds that the Public Financial Management (PFM) reform of the Government of Jordan (GoJ) continues to see steady, albeit slow, progress, and several positive developments have taken place since May 2016.

These include:

  • New Organic Budget Law prepared and submitted to Parliament for approval;
  • Macro-Fiscal Unit established at the Ministry of Finance (MoF);
  • Further roll-out of the Government Financial Management Information System (GFMIS) so it now covers almost all GoJ entities and all modules (except for budget preparation);
  • Public Investment Management (PIM) unit set up in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC);
  • Budget transparency improvement;
  • Initiation of a mid-year budget review process
  • Annual financial reporting now in accordance with international standards
  • Expenditure arrears being monitored and reduced;
  • Withdrawal of the Audit Bureau from pre-audit activities in ministries/departments; and,
  • Electronic procurement system under implementation.

However, many weaknesses remain across all elements of the GoJ’s PFM system, and for some areas there have been few, e.g. procurement, or no developments, e.g. external audit.

On this basis, the overall fiduciary risk level is assessed as moderate (pre-mitigation), similar to the 2016 FRA, which means that the trajectory of change overall is considered stable.

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Sonali Nag on assessments of foundational literacy skills http://www.heart-resources.org/mmedia/sonali-nag-assessments-foundational-literacy-skills/ http://www.heart-resources.org/mmedia/sonali-nag-assessments-foundational-literacy-skills/#respond Tue, 25 Jul 2017 13:10:18 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=mmedia&p=29815 Read more]]> In this video, Sonali Nag, Associate Professor of Education and the Developing Child at Oxford University, discusses her recent review of literacy assessments, Assessment of literacy and foundational learning in developing countries.

This review examines the quality and range of tools used to measure literacy and foundational learning in developing countries. It covers the assessment of language and literacy skills in children from age 3 to 14 (or preschool to Grade 8). It also includes assessment tools from studies published between 1990 and 2014, rated as ‘Moderate’ or ‘High’ in methodological quality.

There are 2 main reasons to assess children’s learning and underlying skills:

  • Assessment can monitor educational quality. Communicating test results about what children can do (or cannot do) can improve decision making at every level of the education system. This improves educational quality and thereby lifts children’s attainment.
  • Assessment can inform teaching practice. Teachers who assess well and use test information well, teach better. Towards this aim, the synthesis collates measures that potentially could be part of a teacher’s toolkit.

The reason for assessing literacy skills is to ensure that “children can come to a point where they can read with comprehension and write and express for others to understand.”

Not all assessments are suitable for supporting the decisions that are often made on the basis of the data they produce. Therefore care should be taken to ensure that tests captures students’ level of learning and are sensitive to small differences in attainment. Tests should also be fair: “A good test is one that is considerate to the child’s learning history, child’s cultural background, child’s linguistic assets… A good test tries to not be influenced so much by contextual factors so that you get the child’s level of learning”.

Sonali’s key messages are that funders and researchers should focus on comprehension and understanding through all stages of literacy development and in all areas of test development, analysis. Protocols should be followed to ensure that assessments are appropriate to the local context. Finally she urges transparent and thorough reporting on the cycle of instrument development and the properties of the test (validity, reliability, potential sources of bias, mitigation against bias, etc.)

The main report is supported by an evidence brief and two briefing notes (on contextual issues and what to test and why).

Sonali Nag previously recorded a video for HEART Talks on Literacy, Foundation Learning and Assessment in Developing Countries, which is available to view here.

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Assessment of literacy and foundational learning in developing countries http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/assessment-literacy-foundational-learning-developing-countries/ http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/assessment-literacy-foundational-learning-developing-countries/#respond Sun, 04 Jun 2017 17:42:13 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=assignment&p=29775 Read more]]> This review examines the quality and range of tools used to measure literacy and foundational learning in developing countries. It covers the assessment of language and literacy skills in children from age 3 to 14 and includes assessment tools from studies published between 1990 and 2014, rated as ‘Moderate’ or ‘High’ in methodological quality.

There are several assessments that have been successfully implemented at scale, including tests of symbol knowledge, reading accuracy, reading fluency and reading comprehension. Language characteristics and cultural factors significantly affect how pupils respond to test items. It is therefore important that assessments should always suit the context in which they are administered in order to ensure that the data they produce is valid and reliable. The way that results are communicated influences the actions that will be taken as a result. Reporting is therefore an important stage in the assessment process. The Systems View of Reading highlights the importance of assessing multiple skills simultaneously to reflect the way that children learn.

It is important that learning measures are designed in a way that ensures that the results they produce reflect the skills that they pertain to measure in a reliable manner. To do this, careful consideration needs to be given to whether theories and approaches developed for other languages, school systems and socio-cultural contexts can be applied to the local population. Efforts should be made to develop affordable tests so that the benefits of assessment can be felt by a broader group, including the poor and marginalised. Further to this, assessment tools should be placed in the hands of teachers to enable them to develop a better understanding of what is happening in their classroom and what they can do to improve it. This direct feedback can help in a way that at-scale assessment cannot. This being said, the mechanisms by which teacher-led assessment can lead to better practice and improved learning needs to be better understood.

The main report can be downloaded here.

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Education technology map: guidance document http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/education-technology-map-guidance-document/ http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/education-technology-map-guidance-document/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 13:11:44 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=assignment&p=29749 Read more]]> This report serves as a user guide for a mapping exercise of research on the use of technology in low-resource environments. It should be read in conjunction with the map itself: an excel sheet titled ‘Education technology evidence database’. The map and user guide are intended to be resources for all those in the sector seeking to engage with the evidence regarding education technology. For the purpose of the exercise, education technology is understood to encompass all areas of education programmes and policy where technology may be used to help improve the effectiveness of interventions in achieving educational outputs and outcomes.

The map includes 401 resources. Some observations about the collection:

  • There is a major emphasis on observational studies (278), followed by quasi-experimental studies (81), experimental studies (23) and secondary studies (six).
  • Of the studies with a stated geographical focus, 365 are located within one country and only 22 are multi-country studies.
  • Overall, the evidence has a dispersed geographical base, with seven regions contributing more than 20 studies. However there is a complete absence of research from much of Central Africa.
  • No one particular technology has particular prominence within the map: mobiles, laptops, desktops and tablets each have less than 50 studies.
  • The most frequently occurring intervention / input areas are in relation to curriculum and pedagogy (263) and teacher training (139). The most frequently occurring outputs are teacher ICT literacy and use (262) and student ICT literacy and use (223).
  • The most frequently occurring outcomes are related to teaching quality (194) and student educational achievement (135).
  • The map does not assess the quality of evidence in the resources. However, more than half of all the studies self-reported a positive effect (219) and less than 10% reported a negative effect (35).

Download the interactive database map here.

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#TeachersMatter! Celebrating teachers worldwide at the Global Education and Skills Forum http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/teachersmatter-celebrating-teachers-worldwide-global-education-skills-forum/ http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/teachersmatter-celebrating-teachers-worldwide-global-education-skills-forum/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 10:34:13 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=blog&p=29727 Read more]]> On 18 and 19 March 2017, together with around 1,500 people from around the world, I attended the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. The Forum provided an exciting platform to celebrate the importance of teachers around the world. Organised by the Varkey Foundation, it was also a stark reminder of the difficulties that some children face in realising their right to an education, and the lengths they will go to for this. We heard from two Chibok girls giving first-hand experience of the horrific effects of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, reminding us that 195 girls have still not returned three years on.

The Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge was one of the organising partners of the Forum, playing a role in supporting key stakeholders who were brought together in ‘alliances’ in eight key thematic areas to develop ideas for action over the coming year. Supported by myself and three students on our Education, Globalisation and International Development MPhil programme, the alliances are all co-chaired by experts, covering the areas of: assessment for action; climate change; girls’ education; global citizenship education; partnership models for universities; public-private partnerships; post-conflict and peace; and teachers.

Kaitlynn Saldanha, one of the MPhil students at the event, noted: “Supporting the Alliances was a tremendous opportunity to champion the role of research and evidence in policymaking and practice while (re)orienting some of the world’s leading practitioners, policymakers, and academics around concepts of equity and inclusion. Thrilled to continue learning from and collaborating with these leaders in partnership with the Varkey Foundation in the months ahead.”

The Forum culminated in the Global Teacher Prize ceremony. This was memorable for its celebratory atmosphere with the scene set by Bocelli’s opening, followed by Bear Grylls parachuting in with the trophy. The importance of the prize was recognised by its announcement from the international space station, and the video message to the winner from the President of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

But actually the most memorable part of the two days was the inspirational speech by the Global Teacher Prize winner, Maggie MacDonnell. Maggie was awarded for her work in a remote, inaccessible Inuit community where gender abuse and suicide is rife. Her enthusiastic approach to working in these difficult conditions to support young people, in giving them confidence, and in tackling some of the problems they face, is striking.

As MPhil student, Garrett Rubin, put it: “It was wonderful to see Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher from a remote Inuit community in Canada, win the Global Teacher Prize. As with last year’s winner, the Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Haroub, the Varkey Foundation has again used the prize to recognise and amplify stories and voices from some of the world’s most marginalised and underrepresented communities.”

Jack McMahon summed up the occasion: “It was a privilege to meet people from all walks of life including CEOs, ministers, professors and teachers to engage with issues of equity and marginalisation in education. I won’t forget the moment Maggie MacDonnell, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, stood on stage with her award in one hand and shouted ‘TEACHERS’ which the whole audience responded at once with, ‘MATTER!’ #teachersmatter.”

In addition to the winner, the 10 shortlisted finalists were also impressive as role models within their communities, and now globally too. I was particularly struck by Michael Wamaya from Kenya teaching ballet in Nairobi’s slums, breaking down stereotypes and providing unique opportunities to disadvantaged children.

The Global Teacher Prize is an inspiration and will certainly inform the framing of my BAICE Presidential address at the UKFIET conference in September.

Dr Pauline Rose is a Professor of International Education at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre

Twitter: Pauline Rose – @PaulineMRose

This blog was originally posted on UKFIET on 3 April 2017. Reposted with permission.


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Missing out: refugee education in crisis http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/missing-refugee-education-crisis/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/missing-refugee-education-crisis/#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:52:02 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29713 Read more]]> This report tells the stories of some of the world’s six million refugee children and adolescents under UNHCR’s mandate who are of primary and secondary school-going age between 5 and 17.

In addition, it looks at the educational aspirations of refugee youth eager to continue learning after secondary education. Education data on refugee enrolments and population numbers is drawn from UNHCR’s population data base, reporting tools and education surveys. The data refers to the 2015-16 school year. The report also references global enrolment data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics referring to 2014.

The digital version of the report is available here.

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The right to education for refugees and internally displaced persons: data gaps and challenges http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/right-education-refugees-internally-displaced-persons-data-gaps-challenges/ http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/right-education-refugees-internally-displaced-persons-data-gaps-challenges/#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:25:19 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=blog&p=29711 Read more]]> On Human Rights Day, Ruth Naylor, co-author of our HEART topic guide on education for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in low- and middle-income countries, highlights the data gaps and challenges to addressing educational needs for this largely invisible group.  

Education is a fundamental human right. Legally, every individual across the world is entitled to a free elementary education. Education is essential for strengthening all other human rights, promotes individual wellbeing and empowerment, and is a basis for important economic and social benefits. Yet the challenges for refugees and IDPs in accessing education remain stark. According to a recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 50 per cent of refugee children access primary education and only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents access secondary. The situation is particularly bad for girls, with only eight refugee girls in primary school for every ten boys, and only seven girls to ten boys at secondary. Given that refugees spend, on average, 20 years in forced displacement, this is not just a temporary break in children’s schooling. Being out of school’ as a refugee often means missing out on education entirely.

Although the scale of the challenge is huge, the fact that the UNHCR is able to report these statistics is a vital initial step in catalyzing action from host governments and the international community to address it. There are still major data gaps (for example, age disaggregated data are often missing, making it difficult to estimate enrolment rates). But the monitoring and reporting of education data for refugees has improved dramatically in recent years.

Data gaps, challenges and opportunities

The majority of those displaced by conflict remain within their own borders as IDPs. Much less is known about this group of people, especially the majority who live within host communities rather than in camps. Unlike refugees, there is no single, internationally agreed definition of an IDP, and often no legal requirement for them to register. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) compiles data on IDPs but is only able to give estimates, and the data are not directly comparable country to country. Only a minority of countries report IDP data disaggregated by age and sex. Whilst we know that there are almost twice as many IDPs as refugees (41 million in 2015, compared to 21 million refugees), we do not know how many are of school age or how many have access to education. Like refugees, IDPs are often trapped in displacement for many years, and short-term humanitarian response systems are not well equipped to provide the continuity of funding needed to keep teachers teaching and children learning.

The challenges of meeting the education needs of children and adolescents living in forced displacement are discussed in the HEART topic guide on education for refugees and IDPs in low- and middle-income countries. There remain major service provision and funding gaps, particularly for adolescents and youth. Only 13 per cent of the UNHCR’s education budget in 2015 went to secondary education. The topic guide also presents examples of approaches that have been successful, and promising practices. The education of Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides an example of how quality education for refugees in protracted displacement can be successfully delivered at scale, given sufficient resources. There are also countless examples of education initiatives run by refugees and IDPs that often remain under the radar. There have been promising developments in the international funding systems, with the Global Partnership for Education developing funding modalities to help national governments plan for and cope with displacement crises, and the Education Cannot Wait platform. There are efforts to harness technology to deliver education to displaced populations, and to improve data and monitoring. However, given that access to secondary school for refugees worldwide is worse than in the poorest, most fragile of countries, and that access for IDPs is probably worse still, there is still a long way to go.

Ruth Naylor is a Senior International Advisor at Education Development Trust.

This blog is cross-posted on the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) website.


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Education and displaced populations: with not for http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/education-displaced-populations-not/ http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/education-displaced-populations-not/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:48:41 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=blog&p=29702 Read more]]> Joseph Munyambanza, a refugee from the DRC, started teaching fellow refugees in Uganda in his early teens, whilst studying at secondary school. In his keynote speech in Berlin, at “Education for a better future – creating prospects for displaced populations”, he described how he had joined with other refugee youth in his camp to form COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA) to deliver informal lessons to refugee children during their school holidays. The organisation has gone on to open nursery and primary schools, and provide hostels and scholarships to enable refugees to attend secondary school and university. The CIYOTA primary schools gained some of the top results in the area, outshining the Ugandan government schools and prompting the Ugandan Ministry of Education to recognise them as formal schools.

The capacity of grassroots organisations, run by refugees to provide quality education for refugees also came out as one of the main findings from research into education for urban refugees, led by Mary Mendenhall’s team at Teachers College Columbia, and explored during a workshop at the Berlin conference.

Joseph’s speech reminded me of grassroots organisations that I worked with early on in my career: Sudan Open Learning Organisation (SOLO) working with Internally Displaced People (IDPs) around Khartoum, Need Service Education Agency (NSEA) supporting education quality in southern Sudan (pre-independence) and Literacy and Basic Education (LABE) operating in northern Uganda. These organisations ran some of the best quality education programmes I have ever seen, working with very limited resources in very difficult contexts. SOLO started using the “school in a box” model to respond to the risk of schools being bulldozed by the Khartoum administration long before it was adopted and taken to scale by UNICEF and other international organisations.

How can the potential of these refugee and IDP led initiatives be realised in delivering quality education to the displaced populations sustainably and at scale?

One of the challenges is that they often remain under the radar. The initiatives are not well documented and have little, if any, profile on the internet. The recently published DFID topic guide on Education for Refugees and IDPs, whilst acknowledging the important role of such organisations, could provide very few references to their achievements, as they remain relatively invisible in the literature.

It can be difficult for host governments to recognise or integrate refugee-led initiatives into their national systems as there may be concerns over teacher certification, curriculum, and quality standards. In the case of IDPs, whilst the government has legal responsibility for the provision of education it may be ambivalent or even hostile to education initiatives by the IDP community, especially where government actions led to the displacement in the first place.

Grass root initiatives may be seen as a threat to International NGO and UN agency operations, or be dismissed for failing to meet minimum standards. Joseph encountered more resistance from international organisations working in his refugee camp than from the Ugandan Ministry of Education.

It is vital that the international community  works closely with host governments. But how can we also ensure that host governments, NGOs and UN agencies also work on education with displaced populations and not just education for them?

By Ruth Naylor, Education Development Trust 

This blog was originally posted on INEE on 26 November 2016. Reposted with permission.

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How multi-disciplinary approaches help us address the research- to- policy challenge http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/multi-disciplinary-approaches-help-us-address-research-policy-challenge/ http://www.heart-resources.org/blog/multi-disciplinary-approaches-help-us-address-research-policy-challenge/#respond Fri, 18 Nov 2016 16:25:28 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=blog&p=29698 Read more]]> This blog is written by Jo Boyden, Director of the Young Lives programme, following her speech at a forum hosted by CIFAR, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, on November 17, 2016. The multi-sectoral forum on the well-being of the world’s children is aimed at bringing researchers, practitioners and policy makers to the table to share insights and create more opportunities for exchange and implementation of their ideas. 

Over the last 16 years of the Young Lives study, we’ve learned one really important thing about running studies that aim to influence policy: collaboration is the key to successful implementation.

In each of the countries where we work we have found that investing in long-term relationships with strong local partners and relationships significantly enhances the quality and impact of the research. Take for instance our team in Vietnam, which is led by the Centre for Analysis and Forecasting. As a respected government advisory body, they feed our evidence directly to the people who create and implement policy.

In addition, global partners like UNICEF, Oxfam and Save the Children help us to expand our impact beyond the areas we’re studying.  For instance, through collaboration with Oxfam’s Youth and Education Team our findings were used in Everyone Counts, a free downloadable maths teaching resource for 9-12 year-olds in the UK. And through a Young Lives submission to the UNICEF/UN Women consultation on inequalities our evidence was given extensive coverage in the report to the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Partnerships work best when there is mutual understanding, and that collaborative synergy is developed through time, care and plenty of interaction. It’s why we held the Adolescence, Youth and Gender: Building Knowledge for Change conference in Oxford in September, which brought together researchers, decision-makers, advocates and practitioners to create a multi- and inter-disciplinary space for conversation. A discussion between Ramya Subramanian, who directs Know Violence in Childhood, and Robert Blum, a paediatrician and expert in adolescent health, opened up a particularly useful debate about how neuroscience can inform social science understandings of adolescent development.

Forums like these that bring together different research disciplines and sectors can lead to startling insights and allow for powerful policy change and implementation. Today’s multi-sectoral forum on the well-being of the world’s children is aimed at bringing researchers, practitioners and policy makers to the table to share insights and create more opportunities for exchange and implementation of their ideas.

It’s encouraging that funding is now moving in that direction, as in the UK’s recent £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund, which supports cutting-edge multi- and interdisciplinary research on the challenges faced by developing countries. Academic journals need to do their bit by publishing more interdisciplinary pieces. The point of these exchanges is simple: different disciplines have different insights and collectively those insights could ultimately provide more context for well-rounded policies.

In Ethiopia, our survey data show that the time urban children and rural girls are spending on paid and unpaid work has declined over time. Rural boys, however, are working as much as they did in the past. In-depth qualitative research has shown why this is: increasing local work opportunities, disappointing experiences at school and gender norms that place a high value on boys’ economic contribution to their households have combined to lower boys’ education aspirations and increase their school drop-out rates relative to girls’.

Elsewhere, Young Lives evidence emphasises the long-term effects of chronic under-nutrition in early life on children’s reasoning, education performance and wider well-being. This shows that deprivation in one area of a child’s development affects all others, highlighting the need for interventions that cut across sectoral services. We also see a clear fade out of early childhood interventions, partly because of on-ground implementation challenges, pointing to the critical need to sustain investments through the school years. Yet we have found that children can recover later in their life journeys despite a poor start and that catch-up growth can be associated with recovery in other aspects of development. This opens up the possibility of remedying early disadvantage with integrated policy and programme approaches.

By drawing on all these insights, we can inform policies to improve the circumstances and wellbeing of at-risk children at different points of their lives.

A good example of the power of this approach was presented at the Young Lives conference by Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development, who shared her personal journey applying her theoretical mathematical skills and her training in epidemiology, economics and social science methods, to the complex challenge of addressing HIV and violence against women. She explained that both a strength and a weakness of the social sciences is to keep discussing and questioning, and to avoid getting behind ‘definitive’ answers. Her background in epidemiology helped her focus on acting, intervention and bringing multi-disciplinary research perspectives to try to ‘answer’ questions when the evidence is there.

That’s the kind of story that will move us to think beyond traditional boundaries on research and policy. More opportunities like the Young Lives conference and today’s CIFAR Forum will help get us there.

This blog was originally posted on Young Lives on 18 November 2016. Reposted with permission.



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