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

February 21, 2014Kristen Grauer

This Week at CEI

This week three members of the CEI team returned from trips within the U.S. and abroad. Daniel Plaut attended a DCP3 meeting in Palm Springs where he discussed his contributions to a chapter of the Child and Adolescent Development Publication (Volume III) on health interventions contributing to education access, learning outcomes, and cognitive abilities. Nicholas Burnett gave a presentation at the IEFG Semi-Annual Meeting in Zurich on education financing highlighting ways in which organizations can improve their current stratgies. Shubha Jayaram was also in Zurich last week where she met with PSIPSE regional partners to discuss CEI's upcoming learning reports and other analytical work.

For more information on PSIPSE, check out the CEI Research & Evidence Library. This week six publications were added to our repository. The regionally-themed documents cover challenges faced by secondary schools in East Africa and India. The image above is from the Asante Africa Foundation - an organization highlighted in The Use of Technology for Teacher Development in East Africa report.

Additionally, CEI's partners at Catalyst Management Services in India are competing for the chance to hold a panel discussion on low-cost private schools at the Sankalp Forum this April. Ideas with the most votes will earn a spot on the forum agenda. We'd appreciate it if you could "upvote" their idea to make this exciting opportunity a reality! CEI's companion initiative, CHMI, is also competing for the chance to share its work on creating impact in the health sector. Show them your support here!



  • February 18-22 | UNESCO Mobile Learning Week - This event aims to explore mobile learning as an important contribution to achieving EFA goals. Opportunities include an open symposium to be held in Paris, France as well as a webinar.
  • February 24 | New Ideas to Scale Up and Finance Global Education - This full-day event hosted by Brookings will include a number of discussions on improving education financing and scale-up, as well as a networking lunch.
  • February 27 | Education under Attack 2014 Launch Event - Join the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack for the release of their study on targeted attacks on education over the last five years. The follow-up panel discussion features experts from organizations such as UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, and Save the Children.
  • February 28 | King Boudouin Prize in African Development - Nominate an individual or organization for their outstanding contribution to the field of African development. 
  • March 5 | Economic Opportunities for Youth - The MasterCard Foundation seeks proposals for collaborative models that will enable disadvantaged youth to build successful livelihoods in the agriculture/agribusiness sector.
  • March 15 Post Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management - The Amani Institute is seeking candidates for its five-month program to take place in Nairobi, Kenya. Twenty-five spots are currently available. Apply now!
  • March 17 | Evaluation 2014 - The 28th Annual Conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), calls for proposals. Submit your best work in evaluation theory or practice by March 17th. This year’s theme is Visionary Evaluation for a Sustainable, Equitable Future.
  • March 17 | 15th Annual Global Educator Awards - Sponsored by VIF International Education, this program invites K-12 teachers to participate for a chance to win travel vouchers, digital badges, and recognition in the international education community.
  • March 24-26 | PSIPSE East Africa Regional Convening - The learning partners for PSIPSE, Results for Development (R4D), and the Center for Social Sector, Education, and Policy Analysis (CSSEPA) will be holding a regional convening for PSIPSE-supported projects in East Africa, donors, and other stakeholders. The 2 and 1/2 day convening will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • March 26 | Lean for Social Good Summit - Join an incredible group of nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, Lean Startup experts, philanthropists, funders, and innovators for the inaugural Lean for Social Good Summit in Washington D.C. Hosted by Lean Impact.
  • March 31 | The 2014 WISE Prize - The Wise Prize recognizes individuals or teams of up to six for outstanding contributions to education. Winners will be announced this November at the 2014 Summit in Doha, Qatar. Make a nomination today!
  • March 31 | The Library of Congress Literacy Awards - This awards program honors organizations that have made outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in the United States or abroad. Deadline for nominations is March 31st.
  • March 31 | NORRAG News 50 - NORRAG calls for contributions to its April edition of NORRAG News on "The Global Politics of Teaching and Learning: The Real Story of Educational Cultures and Contexts." Submissions due by March 31st.
  • Open Ended | Early Childhood Intervention Survey - The International Society on Early Intervention (ISEI) invites you to participate in a brief survey about the status of early childhood intervention in your country. The questionnaire should take only 20 minutes.


Education News

In Pakistan, public-private partnership (PPP) schools increase students' access to quality education in rural areas - The 2013 ASER report revealed that a staggering 21% of Pakistani children between the ages of 6 and 16 are not enrolled in school. Of those attending, a significant number perform below their class level in both reading and arithmetic. To address these challenges, NGOs and philanthropists have established PPP schools throughout the country where students are provided with government vouchers to cover tuition fees. Not only is the cost per student lower at PPPs than at public schools, but evidence suggests that performance is higher as well. However, writers from NORRAG believe that hidden costs might exist for PPP students thus complicating an otherwise promising image of the emerging sector.

Other efforts have also been made this week to improve opportunities for Pakistani students. In conjunction with the Malala Funds-in-Trust agreement, UNESCO announced that it will commit $7 million to improve access and quality of education for Pakistani girls.

Teacher strikes in Somalia threaten progress for the Go 2 School Initiative - The program was launched by the Somali government last September as an effort to provide free education to over one million children. However, progress has been stifled by a number of setbacks including low enrollment due to a poor marketing campaign and criticism from educators about the lack of a national curriculum. The latest challenge surfaced this January when teachers, after not being paid, refused to go to work. Their absence has impacted 50,000 primary school students across Somalia, but the Somali government along with international partners such as UNICEF and UNESCO still urge funders to support the initiative.

The Indian government launched a new education scheme to improve literacy among Muslim youth - Between 2006 an 2013, enrollment of Muslim children in Indian schools increased from 9.4% to 14.2% at the primary level and from 7.2% to 12.1% at the secondary level. A new initiative will target over 10 million Muslims within the 88 districts of India where Muslims account for 20% or more of the total population. Its approach will focus on improving literacy, creating opportunities for vocational training, and encouraging students to continue their education. Funding will be allocated over a three-year time period, ending in March of 2017. 


Point of Departure

Over the last several years, the education experience has changed for students across India due to the implementation of a national voucher system. As writers from the Wall Street Journal's Live Mint remind us, the effectiveness of school vouchers has been a provocative global issue for the last twenty years. Over the last decade, Chile, in particular, has faced much criticism by the international community and its citizens - as private school enrollment soared, hundreds of thousands of students mobilized demanding reform that emphasized quality and affordability.

What does this mean for India? Evidence from the 2013 ASER report reveals that as private school enrollment has increased over time, learning outcomes have decreased. Because vouchers encourage private sector growth, many question whether or not this system can be the solution to India's education challenges.

WEIGH IN - Do you believe that school vouchers can positively impact learning outcomes in India or other nations? If not, what alternatives exist? 
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