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: October 2019 edition

Dana Schmidt | November 18, 2019

In this October Puggle, we’re excited to share three newsworthy items from the world of Echidna Giving grantees that we think are significant for the broader field of girls’ education.

First, the development community celebrated as three of its own—Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, and Michael Kremer—won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Although the award has attracted its fair share of critiques, research by Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer has had a big influence on how we think about education, and girls’ education in particular. Here are just a few highlights of what we can learn from their work:

  • In an experiment in India, Duflo demonstrates that female role models can have a powerful effect on girls’ education. Under local female leadership for two election cycles, “The gender gap in adolescent educational attainment is erased and girls spent less time on household chores.”
  • Duflo and Kremer gathered experimental evidence from Ghana on the effect of free secondary education, demonstrating how critical it can be for girls, in particular. When secondary education is free, girls are more likely to complete secondary education, enroll in tertiary education, earn higher wages, and delay childbirth. Soon we’ll have evidence on how this influences education and learning outcomes for their own children. 
  • Through a series of experiments with Pratham, a large education NGO in India, Banerjee and Duflo, among others, discovered that teaching children based on their current levels of learning can lead to dramatic improvements in reading and math. “Teaching at the right level,” or TaRL for short, is now an approach to learning that at least a dozen countries have tried. 
  • Just as instruction must be targeted, so too must inputs. Kremer showed us that more textbooks in classrooms in Kenya did not make a difference for any students but the top performers—because they were the ones capable of reading English textbooks.

In addition to what the researchers have discovered, we are inspired by how they have worked with organizations as equal partners in an iterative learning approach. This account by Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham, describes their decades-long partnership with Banerjee and Duflo. Congratulations to the laureates and the broader community of researchers, research assistants, field workers, and communities who have supported their work at J-PAL, IPA, and beyond!

Second, the girls’ education community gathered to hear what the latest cohort of Echidna Global Scholars at the Brookings Institution uncovered in their research… 

  • Samyukta Subramanian discovered that children form gender norms in preschool, that heretofore preschool policy in India (and elsewhere) has largely been gender-blind, and that India has a unique opportunity to lead the way on gender transformative preschooling as it expands preschool education. 
  • Nasrin Siddiqa highlighted how STEM education is crucial for building transferable skills and fulfilling Bangladesh’s ambitious economic development goals. She unpacked the systemic and socio-cultural factors that policymakers and practitioners need to overcome to give girls opportunities to fulfill their existing aspirations. 
  • And Anil Paudel looked at what it will take to increase the transition from school to work for girls in Bangladesh, with an emphasis on shoring up investments and participation in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). 

Listen to the Echidna Scholars describe their research in their own words on this podcast.

Third, the Harvard EASEL Lab launched the Explore SEL website launch with a set of tools and resources to navigate the complex field of social and emotional learning. On the site you will find 40 frameworks of social and emotional learning, including 25 that are influential internationally. You can look at individual frameworks, find out how each skill is defined, and visually compare how frameworks and specific skills relate to one another. For anyone trying to navigate the space of life skills, the website is an invaluable resource!

In addition to the above, we were interested to see new research on…

  • Language of instruction, from Cameroon to Kenya, highlighting the importance of teaching in mother tongue and testing in multiple languages to capture the cognitive development of children in multilingual contexts.
  • Private school operators, with new Evidence from Liberia and Nairobi Primary Schools and reflections on The Role of Private School Chains in Developing Countries.
  • Learning goals, with the World Bank launch of a new goal to cut the global Learning Poverty rate by at least half and observations from Girindre Beeharry at the Gates Foundation on what it will take to meet this “ambitious but worthy” goal. Karen Mundy, reflects on the history of learning targets and whether they are likely to shift policy winds.

We hope you find the developments above just as exciting as we do!

  • Recent posts

    • OCTOBER

    • SEPTEMBER

      News from Aug and Sept on everything from why girls’

    • JULY

      July was a hot month—literally, with record-breaking heat in many

    Load Older Posts

    Older posts

    • JUNE

      In honor of Father’s Day, this June edition of the

    • MAY

    • APRIL

    • MARCH

    • FEBRUARY

    • 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

      Echidna Giving is delighted to launch our blog, a space

  • The Puggle: October 2019 edition

    Dana Schmidt | November 18, 2019

    In this October Puggle, we’re excited to share three newsworthy items from the world of Echidna Giving grantees that we think are significant for the broader field of girls’ education.

    First, the development community celebrated as three of its own—Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, and Michael Kremer—won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Although the award has attracted its fair share of critiques, research by Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer has had a big influence on how we think about education, and girls’ education in particular. Here are just a few highlights of what we can learn from their work:

    • In an experiment in India, Duflo demonstrates that female role models can have a powerful effect on girls’ education. Under local female leadership for two election cycles, “The gender gap in adolescent educational attainment is erased and girls spent less time on household chores.”
    • Duflo and Kremer gathered experimental evidence from Ghana on the effect of free secondary education, demonstrating how critical it can be for girls, in particular. When secondary education is free, girls are more likely to complete secondary education, enroll in tertiary education, earn higher wages, and delay childbirth. Soon we’ll have evidence on how this influences education and learning outcomes for their own children. 
    • Through a series of experiments with Pratham, a large education NGO in India, Banerjee and Duflo, among others, discovered that teaching children based on their current levels of learning can lead to dramatic improvements in reading and math. “Teaching at the right level,” or TaRL for short, is now an approach to learning that at least a dozen countries have tried. 
    • Just as instruction must be targeted, so too must inputs. Kremer showed us that more textbooks in classrooms in Kenya did not make a difference for any students but the top performers—because they were the ones capable of reading English textbooks.

    In addition to what the researchers have discovered, we are inspired by how they have worked with organizations as equal partners in an iterative learning approach. This account by Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham, describes their decades-long partnership with Banerjee and Duflo. Congratulations to the laureates and the broader community of researchers, research assistants, field workers, and communities who have supported their work at J-PAL, IPA, and beyond!

    Second, the girls’ education community gathered to hear what the latest cohort of Echidna Global Scholars at the Brookings Institution uncovered in their research… 

    • Samyukta Subramanian discovered that children form gender norms in preschool, that heretofore preschool policy in India (and elsewhere) has largely been gender-blind, and that India has a unique opportunity to lead the way on gender transformative preschooling as it expands preschool education. 
    • Nasrin Siddiqa highlighted how STEM education is crucial for building transferable skills and fulfilling Bangladesh’s ambitious economic development goals. She unpacked the systemic and socio-cultural factors that policymakers and practitioners need to overcome to give girls opportunities to fulfill their existing aspirations. 
    • And Anil Paudel looked at what it will take to increase the transition from school to work for girls in Bangladesh, with an emphasis on shoring up investments and participation in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). 

    Listen to the Echidna Scholars describe their research in their own words on this podcast.

    Third, the Harvard EASEL Lab launched the Explore SEL website launch with a set of tools and resources to navigate the complex field of social and emotional learning. On the site you will find 40 frameworks of social and emotional learning, including 25 that are influential internationally. You can look at individual frameworks, find out how each skill is defined, and visually compare how frameworks and specific skills relate to one another. For anyone trying to navigate the space of life skills, the website is an invaluable resource!

    In addition to the above, we were interested to see new research on…

    • Language of instruction, from Cameroon to Kenya, highlighting the importance of teaching in mother tongue and testing in multiple languages to capture the cognitive development of children in multilingual contexts.
    • Private school operators, with new Evidence from Liberia and Nairobi Primary Schools and reflections on The Role of Private School Chains in Developing Countries.
    • Learning goals, with the World Bank launch of a new goal to cut the global Learning Poverty rate by at least half and observations from Girindre Beeharry at the Gates Foundation on what it will take to meet this “ambitious but worthy” goal. Karen Mundy, reflects on the history of learning targets and whether they are likely to shift policy winds.

    We hope you find the developments above just as exciting as we do!

  • Recent posts

    • OCTOBER

    • SEPTEMBER

      News from Aug and Sept on everything from why girls’

    • JULY

      July was a hot month—literally, with record-breaking heat in many

    Load Older Posts

    Older posts

    • JUNE

      In honor of Father’s Day, this June edition of the

    • MAY

    • APRIL

    • MARCH

    • FEBRUARY

    • 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

      Echidna Giving is delighted to launch our blog, a space

  • 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!