The Puggle: May 2020 edition

The students we aim to serve, their families, you, our grantees continue to be front of mind. Obviously health and safety concerns dominate our thinking as well as the commensurate economic impact, but we are also beginning to shift our focus to the mid and long term. The effects on the education sector, and our grantee partners’ operations in particular, are still unfolding as school closures and lockdown orders persist. Along with you and often through our grantees we are monitoring carefully those changes and discussing with our grantees modifications in their interventions and anticipated longer-term impacts. 

Work and new exciting developments continue despite the pandemic. We are dedicating this month’s Puggle to one particularly exciting new resource, which we hope will be useful for all of you committed to gender equality in education sector. Drum roll please…we would like to introduce you to EGER – the Evidence for Gender and Education Resource!

As the education community pursues expanded global goals on educational attainment, lifelong learning, and gender equality, the need to align high quality evidence with policies and programs is more pressing than ever. Whether you are a practitioner working on changing social norms, or a researcher wanting to understand the persistent gaps in evidence for overcoming barriers to girls’ education, or a funder wanting to inform smart funding choices, we believe EGER can be an excellent resource.  

So, what is EGER exactly?

The Evidence for Gender and Education Resource, or EGER (pronounced “eager” since we are all eager to see faster progress towards gender equality), is the first freely available resource to help the global gender and education community make informed decisions about programming, investments, and policy and research priorities. 

EGER is a searchable, interactive database containing the latest evidence, profiles of nearly 300 global organizations, working in most low and middle-income countries, who implement programs, conduct research, advocate, network, and fund efforts in the gender and education space. It contains details on more than 500 current projects – and it is still expanding and adding new countries, research, and projects continuously. Curated evidence from recent meta-analyses and systematic reviews helps identify what interventions work for which outcomes, and highlights where the research gaps remain. EGER also shows country-level indicators for key gender and education outcomes, including literacy, completion rates, school-related gender-based violence, and more. 

Who is behind EGER?

EGER was developed by the Population Council’s Girl Innovation, Research, and Learning (GIRL) Center with support from and as part of Echidna Giving’s ongoing effort to help accelerate progress in achieving gender equality in education globally. This effort is guided by a stakeholder advisory group, and the participation and feedback of users like you.

The GIRL Center is a great home for EGER because it is a global hub of research and thought leadership that generates, synthesizes, and translates evidence to ensure that investments in adolescents, especially girls, are based on rigorous evidence. The GIRL Center and Echidna Giving are both committed to sustaining and continuing to expand EGER. Your input and feedback will be critical in ensuring EGER meets our community’s needs (join the EGER community here). We also welcome the opportunity to partner with other funders who might be interested in supporting this effort alongside us (reach out to us at eger@popcouncil.org).

What can we expect to learn when we use EGER?

This new resource helps to identify where girls and boys face the greatest education challenges, what’s being done to overcome those challenges on the ground, and how existing evidence – and gaps in evidence – can inform future programming and investments. 

As you will see, EGER is an interactive web portal that maps who is doing what, where, and how in gender and education globally, and makes the latest education data and evidence accessible to all. It houses four interconnected data sets: needs, organization, project and evidence data. And it allows you to explore to find the information you are most interested in, such as:

  • Which global programs are working to address school violence?
  • Which global programs are working to improve social emotional learning or life skills?
  • What are donors currently funding in global gender and education?
  • What programs has the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) funded?
  • What works to increase secondary school enrolment?
  • Does providing menstrual hygiene supplies improve grade attainment?
  • Does life skills education improve critical thinking?

And so on…have a question in mind that you can’t wait to answer? Well, check out EGER now! 

What insights have we gleaned so far from the data?

Many of the previous evidence reviews in the global education field have focused on interventions within the school environment, and often have lacked a clear gender lens. To address that gap in the evidence, as part of this work we have conducted a systematic review on what works to address gender-related barriers to schooling. You may be wondering how we’re defining gender-related barriers to schooling – great question! We realized that a comprehensive evidence-based framework laying out those barriers does not exist. As a starting point, we compiled the most commonly perceived gender-related barriers in the field, which are shown below. We have separated them into the community, school, and household levels, but of course these barriers are all closely connected.  

We systematically searched the literature to find studies that evaluated the effects of policies or programs designed to address one or more of these barriers. We also looked for studies that used rigorous methods to assess whether the intervention was effective (the full study protocol was reviewed by the Campbell Collaboration and is published online here). 

Out of nearly 26,000 papers published, only 79 met our inclusion criteria (or 0.3%). What were the most common reasons for excluding papers on these topics? Many failed to separate out their results by gender (a challenge that Dave Evans and Fei Yuan highlighted as well in their research “What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions that Do Not Focus on Girls”), and many studies that tested relevant interventions (like delaying age of marriage) did not test whether they improved education. 

As we finalize our analyses, we are also grappling with how to summarize information on the effects of interventions with many different components (e.g. teacher training and scholarships and school feeding, etc.). What can we say about what works if researchers only tested the entire program as a whole? How can we share this information in a way that is valuable to the field? The systematic review is still underway, but we hope to be able to share the results in the coming months (after a thorough peer review). The results of this review will be integrated into the EGER site’s evidence to practice tool so that you can take action with our findings right away!

What is coming next?

As with any new initiative, we have a lot of ideas for the expansion and potential of EGER.  However, to ensure the maximum utility we wanted to make the resource available to the international education community as soon as possible and hear your feedback on what you find most valuable and thoughts for what is missing. One possible area of expansion is to include more local organizations – those working in one country only. We tested this approach out through a pilot in Kenya and two states in India, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. If those data prove to be useful, our vision is to work with national or regional partners to include more country-level ecosystem mappings, as well as to integrate government policies and programs. Also, much of the data on programs and organizations was extracted from publicly available sources so please take a look and make sure we aren’t missing anything about your work!

In October 2020, we will be sharing a Gender and Education Roadmap that draws on this information. The Roadmap will summarize the impressive work in the global gender and education community, where the needs are greatest, and the most effective approaches to achieving our collective goals. The Roadmap will lay out a path forward, highlighting areas of success, and opportunities to shift resources and attention to address needs and communities that have been overlooked. We will also be launching new data visualizations and ways to share updates about what we’re finding through EGER. 

How can I be a part of it?

We hope everyone in the international gender and education community will find EGER to be a valuable resource. Learn more from this webinar where we walk you through the resource. If you would like to get updates as EGER evolves, please sign up here. We would greatly appreciate you helping to spread the word in your network about this new resource.

If your organization is in EGER already, help us keep the information updated and accurate. The more information you share about your own work, the more useful this resource will be. 

You can easily add your organization, make edits to your organization’s profile, or add or make edits to specific projects. We will review submissions and reach out with any questions before posting to the site. Or if you prefer,  you can contact us directly with questions or feedback at eger@popcouncil.org. Learn more about EGER and our inclusion criteria here

EGER was developed as a resource for the global gender and education community — it is meant to help us all learn, share and accelerate the pace of progress together. Many thanks to those who have shared their information, time, and insights to help make this resource what it is. We would like to particularly express our gratitude for the tireless efforts of the core team at The Population Council who created EGER, namely Stephanie Psaki, Nicole Haberland, Barbara Mensch, Meredith Kozak, and Erica Chuang.


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