Center for Education Innovations: This Week's News & Views

November 15, 2013Kimberly Josephson


This week at CEI

This week Results for Development (R4D) Institute released an extension to its April 2013 report that estimated the economic burden on countries with large populations of out-of-school children (OOSC). “Exclusion from Education” by Milan Thomas with Nicholas Burnett includes up-to-date estimates for 20 low- and middle-income countries, with surprising results. OOSC cost countries anywhere from 1% (Thailand) to 10% (The Gambia) of GDP. The infographic (left) gives a quick snapshot of the remarkable finding. Click here to see it in detail.

CEI’s 3rd monthly newsletter - CEI Connections - was released last week featuring the CEI Global Team Summit in Uganda, a host of new competitions and other funding opportunities, and our Innovator of the Month, Dwelling Places. Don’t miss out next month: subscribe here



  • November 30 | Youth Advocacy Group (YAG) for the UN Global Education First Initiative - If you’re between the ages of 15 and 28 and have leadership and advocacy experience in your community, consider applying to be one of 15 representatives for the 2014 Youth Advocacy Group (YAG).
  • November 30 | D-Prize - Submit an application for D-Prize, a $20,000 award for social entrepreneurs with a plan to distribute solutions to fight poverty.
  • November 30 | UNGEI Good Practice Fund - The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) seeks to identify well-documented, scalable or replicable programs to strengthen the evidence base for girls’ education.
  • December 15 | Skills for a Better Life e-Contest - UNESCO Bangkok is asking young people and teachers in the Asia-Pacific region to share their ideas (via video or essay) that aid in the development of 21st century skills like critical thinking, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Winners will receive a digital video recorder or e-book reader.
  • December 20 | Pan African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education - The Saville Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2013 Pan African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education. Prizes include $10,000 for 1st place, $5,000 for 2nd and 3rd places, and small awards for the best entry from each country.
  • January 15, 2014 | 2014 WISE Awards - The 2013 WISE Summit may have just ended, but the submission period for the 2014 WISE Awards is now open through mid-January. Six innovative education solutions will each be awarded US $20,000.
  • January 16, 2014 | Saving Brains Challenge - The Grand Challenges Canada Saving Brains initiative will provide seed funding and transition-to-scale funding for innovative interventions that nurture and protect early brain development in low- and middle-income countries.


Education News

Ghost schools in Pakistan have very real effect on education - Widespread corruption and lack of a proper monitoring system have led to the phenomenon of “ghosts schools” in Pakistan, about 25,000 empty, damaged buildings where teachers are still collecting a salary. A court-mandated inspection found that about 20 percent of government schools in the southern Sindh province are either non-functional or non-existent. Said a father from Karachi in Sindh province whose daughters have no school to attend, “We’ve requested many times to the chief minister, the education minister, even the president to make it functional, but nothing has happened.” This infographic by Al Jazeera estimates the number of ghost schools to be even higher, perhaps 30,000, and compiles other worrying statistics.

Inclusive education in Burma is not so inclusive - Burma has significant obstacles to overcome in implementing universal education, but none so challenging as providing access and support to a quality education for children with disabilities. A government survey showed that 50 percent of all people with disabilities had never attended school, often because they were denied admission to the government’s mainstream public schools. There are only 15 special education schools for people with disabilities in the country, of which only four are run by the government, and seven special vocational training schools, three which are government-run. Learn how activists in Burma are hoping to draft a new law that will help prevent job discrimination and stigma in local communities and ensure that special needs children have the right to attend conventional schools.

Lack of funding for Palestinian colleges - While historically some of the best institutions for higher learning in the region, Palestinian universities are now struggling to keep their doors open. Many students are forced to drop out or postpone their college education until they can save enough to pay for the hike in tuition costs. The latest increases, according to a leading education official, are due to the Israeli occupation, which prevents the employment of qualified professors, and the slump in public and private funding from the global economic crisis. Ahmed Atawneh, president of al-Khalil (Hebron) University, the oldest in the occupied territories, says the situation is so bad that Palestinian universities are using staff pension funds to pay wages, while colleges have taken bank loans to keep running.

Teach for All, a “breath of fresh air” - Acclaimed journalist Thomas Friedman attended the Teach for All 2013 Global Conference hosted this year in village schools of Yunnan Province in late October. In an op-ed piece following the conference, Friedman expressed fresh appreciation for the model that recruits top college graduates and trains and places them in underserved schools in the network’s now 32 member countries. Citing these teachers as “makers” rather than “breakers,” Friedman went so far as to label Teach for All the “anti-Al Qaeda.” Explore a few of the Teach for All national chapters featured on CEI:

Teach for China
Enseña por Colombia
Teach for Pakistan
Teach for India


Point of Departure

Education, Starbucks-style

Bridge International Academies is often celebrated for the sheer scale it continues to achieve as the world’s largest chain of low-cost private schools (it currently operates more than 200 schools in Kenya and another 50 are slated to open in January). But while the debate surrounding the benefits of low-cost private schooling is nothing new, some are now asking, at what cost does Bridge achieve scale and remain affordable?

NPR featured a story this week - Do For-Profit Schools Give Poor Kenyans A Real Choice? - that questioned its large class sizes and, in particular, the teaching methodology. Teachers are compared to robots, as they deliver word-for-word scripted lessons from e-readers. When confronted with criticism that the pedagogical model is excessively standardized, co-founder Shannon May fired back:

“it's crazy to have fourth-grade teachers in schools attempting to reinvent the wheel on how to teach fractions.”

WEIGH IN: At what point does standardizing education to achieve scale become dangerous?

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