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: July 2019 edition

Dana Schmidt | July 31, 2019

July was a hot month—literally, with record-breaking heat in many parts of the globe, and figuratively, in girls’ education. The G7 and UNESCO hosted the Paris International Conference on Innovating for girls’ and women’s empowerment through education, where UNESCO launched an Atlas of Girls’ and Women’s Right to Education and France Calls on G-7 to Double Girls’ Education Funding in Africa’s Sahel. 

UNESCO also launched the 2019 Gender Review for the Global Monitoring Report. The report is indicative of a broader shift in rhetoric around girls’ education. In the 2003 Global Monitoring Report, which was focused on gender, the storyline was a pretty simple one of getting to gender parity in education enrollment and attainment. It was all about “equality in education.” This 2019 review, in contrast, is all about “gender equality in and through education” (emphasis added). It argues that schools must be “a place where gender stereotypes are deconstructed and fought.”

We think this is a necessary and welcome shift, but it also carries risks. First, it might create a perception that girls’ education advocates are constantly moving the goal post. Second, it’s hard to believe that “gender equality through education” alone is realistic when most high-income countries have achieved equality in education (if not watched women become better educated), but are far from achieving equality more broadly. Changes outside of education—in laws, business practices, norms, etc.—are also needed. Lastly, pushing for gender equality through education can create a backlash for girls, boys, and organizations who defy gender norms.

The Gender Review talks about how subject choice remains segregated by gender and harmful norms can prevent change from happening in education. This recent recent talk at the Center for Global Development on what works to empower women economically reminded us that subject choice has real economic consequences: segregation in career choice across men and women is a strong driver of unequal economic outcomes. Furthermore, teachers are the “kiss of death” for their students’ career choice, because they encourage female students to take on gender-conforming roles.

Although the report talks about learning outcomes for girls vs. boys (girls are stronger in reading, in part because parents read more to daughters, and boys are stronger in math), it is largely silent on what schools should be teaching in order to advance equality through education. It does argue that “comprehensive sexuality education expands education opportunities, challenges gender norms and promotes gender equality” (this report argues for how in detail). But as the same panel cited above reminded us, there may be a wider set of skills and mindsets that are especially critical for girls. In providing business training for women, shifting mindsets was critical, not just teaching technical business skills. Other recent research in Zambia finds that negotiation training significantly improves educational outcomes for girls in a lasting way. And this recent report out of the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) highlights how to best support youth to acquire the knowledge and skills that will allow them to thrive in school, work, and life.

For the first time the Gender Review looked at how donors tackle girls’ education. “$4.2 billion, or half, of total direct education aid included gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a significant or a principal objective.” For Canada, a full 92% of its aid to education was deemed gender-targeted. This is really significant. It means that donors are arguably putting more concerted attention on gender than governments. All the more reason that their aid should target the most effective strategies for improving girls’ education. Perhaps looking at how well donor aid (and education sector plans) performs in that regard will be the focus of a future report.

UNESCO launched a second big report in July looking at whether or not countries are on track to meet SDG 4 (the report is nicely summarized here and here). It provides a compelling case that we need to be doing things dramatically differently today in order to hit all of the SDG education targets for the generation now entering school, who should finish secondary school by the 2030 SDG deadline. To take just two dramatic findings:

  • “The world will approach the learning target only if progress equals the rate of the best‑performing countries”
  • At upper secondary, 60% of kids in low-income countries are out of school. Worldwide only 50% of kids complete upper secondary education. This drops to a mere 19% in low-income countries. We are very far from achieving 100% completion of secondary.

In the face of these shortcomings, what should countries prioritize first? SDG 4 includes 43 laudable indicators for education, but how should countries navigate the tradeoffs between investing between them? This seems like a necessary conversation in the face of the report’s findings.

Also, this month, don’t miss the first round of blog posts from the newest cohort of Echidna Global Scholars!

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  • The Puggle: July 2019 edition

    Dana Schmidt | July 31, 2019

    July was a hot month—literally, with record-breaking heat in many parts of the globe, and figuratively, in girls’ education. The G7 and UNESCO hosted the Paris International Conference on Innovating for girls’ and women’s empowerment through education, where UNESCO launched an Atlas of Girls’ and Women’s Right to Education and France Calls on G-7 to Double Girls’ Education Funding in Africa’s Sahel. 

    UNESCO also launched the 2019 Gender Review for the Global Monitoring Report. The report is indicative of a broader shift in rhetoric around girls’ education. In the 2003 Global Monitoring Report, which was focused on gender, the storyline was a pretty simple one of getting to gender parity in education enrollment and attainment. It was all about “equality in education.” This 2019 review, in contrast, is all about “gender equality in and through education” (emphasis added). It argues that schools must be “a place where gender stereotypes are deconstructed and fought.”

    We think this is a necessary and welcome shift, but it also carries risks. First, it might create a perception that girls’ education advocates are constantly moving the goal post. Second, it’s hard to believe that “gender equality through education” alone is realistic when most high-income countries have achieved equality in education (if not watched women become better educated), but are far from achieving equality more broadly. Changes outside of education—in laws, business practices, norms, etc.—are also needed. Lastly, pushing for gender equality through education can create a backlash for girls, boys, and organizations who defy gender norms.

    The Gender Review talks about how subject choice remains segregated by gender and harmful norms can prevent change from happening in education. This recent recent talk at the Center for Global Development on what works to empower women economically reminded us that subject choice has real economic consequences: segregation in career choice across men and women is a strong driver of unequal economic outcomes. Furthermore, teachers are the “kiss of death” for their students’ career choice, because they encourage female students to take on gender-conforming roles.

    Although the report talks about learning outcomes for girls vs. boys (girls are stronger in reading, in part because parents read more to daughters, and boys are stronger in math), it is largely silent on what schools should be teaching in order to advance equality through education. It does argue that “comprehensive sexuality education expands education opportunities, challenges gender norms and promotes gender equality” (this report argues for how in detail). But as the same panel cited above reminded us, there may be a wider set of skills and mindsets that are especially critical for girls. In providing business training for women, shifting mindsets was critical, not just teaching technical business skills. Other recent research in Zambia finds that negotiation training significantly improves educational outcomes for girls in a lasting way. And this recent report out of the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) highlights how to best support youth to acquire the knowledge and skills that will allow them to thrive in school, work, and life.

    For the first time the Gender Review looked at how donors tackle girls’ education. “$4.2 billion, or half, of total direct education aid included gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a significant or a principal objective.” For Canada, a full 92% of its aid to education was deemed gender-targeted. This is really significant. It means that donors are arguably putting more concerted attention on gender than governments. All the more reason that their aid should target the most effective strategies for improving girls’ education. Perhaps looking at how well donor aid (and education sector plans) performs in that regard will be the focus of a future report.

    UNESCO launched a second big report in July looking at whether or not countries are on track to meet SDG 4 (the report is nicely summarized here and here). It provides a compelling case that we need to be doing things dramatically differently today in order to hit all of the SDG education targets for the generation now entering school, who should finish secondary school by the 2030 SDG deadline. To take just two dramatic findings:

    • “The world will approach the learning target only if progress equals the rate of the best‑performing countries”
    • At upper secondary, 60% of kids in low-income countries are out of school. Worldwide only 50% of kids complete upper secondary education. This drops to a mere 19% in low-income countries. We are very far from achieving 100% completion of secondary.

    In the face of these shortcomings, what should countries prioritize first? SDG 4 includes 43 laudable indicators for education, but how should countries navigate the tradeoffs between investing between them? This seems like a necessary conversation in the face of the report’s findings.

    Also, this month, don’t miss the first round of blog posts from the newest cohort of Echidna Global Scholars!

  • Recent posts

    • JULY

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

    • JUNE

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

    • MAY

    Load Older Posts

    Older posts

    • 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!