The Puggle: December 2023 edition

As we wind up the year with shorter days here in the Northern Hemisphere and wars occurring in pockets of the world, we are reminded of the urgency of working towards greater freedom, justice, and peace for all. We are also revisiting some of the trends of 2023 in search of bright spots. Inspired by this stunning photograph captured by the James Webb Telescope of Arp 220,” two spiral galaxies in the process of merging,” we offer six points of light from the year:

Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

1. Countries continue making fast progress towards universal enrollment and completion in education. Per a World Bank study in Africa, “there is no evidence to suggest that gender gaps widened during the pandemic. If anything, gender gaps appear to have narrowed in some countries.” The Global Education Monitoring Report released in July finds that “In recent decades, progress on girls’ education access and completion has been one of the main achievements in equality in education.”

2. We know it is possible to make significant progress improving learning outcomes and equity in education. There are many documented interventions, studies of positive deviants, rigorously evaluated cost-effective approaches to improve global learning, and interventions that work at scale. ”You cannot use poverty as an excuse” for giving up on children. Agency is emerging as a key outcome when it comes to advancing impact for girls.

3. It was a significant year for advancing evidence and practice on life skills education. Collaboratives in India and East Africa launched new toolkits, assessment tools, and reports contextualizing life skills in those contexts. Funders made the case for the importance of holistic skills, including for advancing girls’ education outcomes in particular.

4. Childcare is breaking through as a critical investment to advance child development and women’s empowerment. It’s been highlighted by influential leaders, has become a centerpiece in the World Bank’s new gender strategy, gained further legitimacy through research that attracted a Nobel Prize, and is drawing increasing engagement and philanthropic support.

5. Individuals and organizations are increasingly seizing opportunities to engage teachers and students in critically examining gender and power in order to uproot harmful gender norms. This movement towards gender transformative education is being advanced through existing practice, passionate advocates, and growing networks, and increasingly embedded in the core approaches to gender equality in education.

6. Our own team has expanded — from 6 members to 9. We are grateful to work with each other and, by extension, all of you in advancing gender equality in and through education around the world.

We wish all of you peace, repose, and reflection, and may your good will be contagious. We’ll see you in the New Year!