THE PUGGLE
SHARING WITH OTHERS TO MAKE
FASTER PROGRESS FOR ALL
Out in the bush, you’ll have to go into the pouch of a mama echidna to pet her baby puggle. Our Puggle is easier to find, showing up every month to share what we’re learning about emerging issues in girls’ education. Other posts provide our analysis of recent research and events and feature stories from our grantees. Explore more below, including a link to our resource library.

The Puggle: April 2019 edition

Dana Schmidt | May 13, 2019

In April the full Echidna Giving team attended the Comparative and International Education Society. We enjoyed welcoming thousands of our friends working on international education to our home city of San Francisco. Below are six of our lasting impressions from CIES:

1 | Researchers are unpacking the depth and nuance around life skills and social and emotional learning. For example, in a panel on “examining the rise of “life skills” education programming for adolescents in developing country contexts,” Erin Murphy-Graham, Joan DeJaeghere, and Urvashi Sanhi spoke about two elements integral to life skills that are rarely explicitly included in life skills frameworks. The first element was power. If we expect education to engender equality, we need to reckon with issues around gender and power. The second element was relationships, which could be conceived of as an explicit goal for life skills programming, not simply a by-product. In another session, Matthew Jukes presented research on the social and emotional competencies that teachers and parents in rural Tanzania view as important—and found discrepancies between the two with teachers desiring curiosity and independence and parents valuing respect and obedience. The community discussed competencies in terms of social relationships. This research underscores the need to better understand not only how different academic disciplines conceptualize and define life skills, but also how communities themselves conceptualize these skills.

2 | This slide from Nick Spaull on learning outcomes in West Africa:

3 | Making good on the SDG commitment to secondary education for all will not be easy. A panel on “Minding the gaps: With more sub-Saharan African governments introducing free secondary school education, what barriers persist for marginalized girls?” highlighted just how many barriers persist, from being able to get into school, to being able to afford non-fee expenses, to getting something of value out of schools in which levels of learning remain dismally low. It is reasonable to debate whether eliminating secondary school fees is desirable. In countries where few students finish primary school, wealthy students who can get to secondary school will benefit the most. Eliminating fees specifically for marginalized groups would be more progressive. On the other hand, it may be more cost effective to eliminate fees for everyone than to figure out how to target resources to those who need them most. And it still helps people who wouldn’t otherwise go to secondary education, increasing prospects for economic growth. Are we thinking too narrowly by trying to get every child through traditional secondary schooling? This may be misguided both because it’s too expensive for governments to replicate existing models and because the systems aren’t working terribly well to begin with. Are there alternative models that could deliver meaningful learning needed and be more affordable?

4 | People are eager to hear about failure. Lots of folks expressed appreciation for honest discussion about results that weren’t so positive (like critical reflection on teacher professional development and fadeout of preschool effects). This reflection on an early childhood intervention in Cambodia is another great example of learning from failure. We hope these models give others the confidence to share failures that we can all learn from. But we also realize there is a tricky dynamic here and sharing of failure isn’t always rewarded. Our own belief is that the true failure is the failure to learn—and we’re always eager to hear how we, as a funder, can best live this belief.

5 | The debate on privatization is heating up. The Economist wrote a glowing review of private education, but not everyone agrees. “The Abidjan Principles promises to be the new reference point for governments, educators and education providers when debating the respective roles and duties of states and private actors in education.” Here is a good summary of some of the current debates.

6 | The view from up high can be stunning…and incomplete. As we enjoyed the view over the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge, we appreciated a new perspective on our own city. In a similar vein, we saw a real hunger for the broader perspective of what works in girls’ education from the research of David Evans (highlighted in our prior post) and a complementary piece of work by the Population Council to look at gender-specific barriers to education. At the same time, views from on high only tell you so much about what’s really happening down below. Similarly, systematic reviews may be a good starting point but need to be contextualized.

 

We know there was a lot happening at the conference that we didn’t get to see, so please feel free to share your own impressions in the comments section.

 

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  • The Puggle: April 2019 edition

    Dana Schmidt | May 13, 2019

    In April the full Echidna Giving team attended the Comparative and International Education Society. We enjoyed welcoming thousands of our friends working on international education to our home city of San Francisco. Below are six of our lasting impressions from CIES:

    1 | Researchers are unpacking the depth and nuance around life skills and social and emotional learning. For example, in a panel on “examining the rise of “life skills” education programming for adolescents in developing country contexts,” Erin Murphy-Graham, Joan DeJaeghere, and Urvashi Sanhi spoke about two elements integral to life skills that are rarely explicitly included in life skills frameworks. The first element was power. If we expect education to engender equality, we need to reckon with issues around gender and power. The second element was relationships, which could be conceived of as an explicit goal for life skills programming, not simply a by-product. In another session, Matthew Jukes presented research on the social and emotional competencies that teachers and parents in rural Tanzania view as important—and found discrepancies between the two with teachers desiring curiosity and independence and parents valuing respect and obedience. The community discussed competencies in terms of social relationships. This research underscores the need to better understand not only how different academic disciplines conceptualize and define life skills, but also how communities themselves conceptualize these skills.

    2 | This slide from Nick Spaull on learning outcomes in West Africa:

    3 | Making good on the SDG commitment to secondary education for all will not be easy. A panel on “Minding the gaps: With more sub-Saharan African governments introducing free secondary school education, what barriers persist for marginalized girls?” highlighted just how many barriers persist, from being able to get into school, to being able to afford non-fee expenses, to getting something of value out of schools in which levels of learning remain dismally low. It is reasonable to debate whether eliminating secondary school fees is desirable. In countries where few students finish primary school, wealthy students who can get to secondary school will benefit the most. Eliminating fees specifically for marginalized groups would be more progressive. On the other hand, it may be more cost effective to eliminate fees for everyone than to figure out how to target resources to those who need them most. And it still helps people who wouldn’t otherwise go to secondary education, increasing prospects for economic growth. Are we thinking too narrowly by trying to get every child through traditional secondary schooling? This may be misguided both because it’s too expensive for governments to replicate existing models and because the systems aren’t working terribly well to begin with. Are there alternative models that could deliver meaningful learning needed and be more affordable?

    4 | People are eager to hear about failure. Lots of folks expressed appreciation for honest discussion about results that weren’t so positive (like critical reflection on teacher professional development and fadeout of preschool effects). This reflection on an early childhood intervention in Cambodia is another great example of learning from failure. We hope these models give others the confidence to share failures that we can all learn from. But we also realize there is a tricky dynamic here and sharing of failure isn’t always rewarded. Our own belief is that the true failure is the failure to learn—and we’re always eager to hear how we, as a funder, can best live this belief.

    5 | The debate on privatization is heating up. The Economist wrote a glowing review of private education, but not everyone agrees. “The Abidjan Principles promises to be the new reference point for governments, educators and education providers when debating the respective roles and duties of states and private actors in education.” Here is a good summary of some of the current debates.

    6 | The view from up high can be stunning…and incomplete. As we enjoyed the view over the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge, we appreciated a new perspective on our own city. In a similar vein, we saw a real hunger for the broader perspective of what works in girls’ education from the research of David Evans (highlighted in our prior post) and a complementary piece of work by the Population Council to look at gender-specific barriers to education. At the same time, views from on high only tell you so much about what’s really happening down below. Similarly, systematic reviews may be a good starting point but need to be contextualized.

     

    We know there was a lot happening at the conference that we didn’t get to see, so please feel free to share your own impressions in the comments section.

     

  • Recent posts

    Load Older Posts

    Older posts

    • JANUARY

      Ed quality in 3 charts, a new teacher observation tool,

    • DECEMBER

      In 2019, our team will spend considerable time and effort

    • DECEMBER

      2018 Is A (W)rap

    • NOVEMBER

      What's social and emotional learning got to do with it?

    • OCTOBER

      Obama's Global Girls Alliance, The Human Campital Index, and India's

    • SEPTEMBER

      Three themes on girls' education from UNGA

    • AUGUST

      Before we get to our usual Puggle updates, we have

    • JULY

      We’re at the peak of vacation season in the Northern

    • JUNE

      The G7 summit in Canada in early June catalyzed a $3

    • MAY

      This month we’re diving deep on a topic related to

    • APRIL

      April marked the first full month of a new season

    • MARCH

      In this update from March, we celebrate the march of progress

    • FEBRUARY

      This month brought encouraging news on aid to education.

    • JANUARY

      This month, champions spoke up for girls: Oprah made a rousing

    • DECEMBER

      This month we are keeping it short and sweet. In

    • NOVEMBER

      This month we are excited to share a piece we published

    • DECEMBER

      The latest World Development Report focuses exclusively on education for the first

    • OCTOBER

      Echidna Giving team highlights emerging issues and findings related to

    • SEPTEMBER

      This month the World Bank released the World Development Report (WDR). For

    • AUGUST

      August offered plenty of great material, including a collection of essays from

    • JULY

      There is a notion that things slow down during the

    • JUNE

    • MAY

      In May, the Center For Universal Education (CUE) and the

    • APRIL

      In April, the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings served

    • MARCH

      March 8th marked International Women’s Day. This month we were

    • FEBRUARY

      Even if every single girl completed at least 6 grades

    • JANUARY

      News in January seemed to be dominated by the new

    • DECEMBER

      In 2016, the Echidna Giving team reviewed literature related to

    • DECEMBER

      Welcome to the end-of-year installment of The Puggle. In this

    • NOVEMBER

      In September, the Echidna Giving team joined the masses of

    • OCTOBER

      In case you missed it, on October 11 the world celebrated

    • SEPTEMBER

      It turns out September was a busy month for

    • AUGUST

      This August we couldn’t help but be inspired by the Olympics!

    • JULY

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  • We believe in exchanging ideas and sharing knowledge. Here’s some of what we’ve been reading to inform our thinking on girls’ education. Feel free to suggest additional resources for us to read and feature!