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

March 07, 2014Kristen Grauer

This Week at CEI

This week's feature image was provided by CEI team members Molly Eberhardt and Daniel Plaut who visited the Mackay Memorial College in Kampala, Uganda last week. Taking a unique approach to resource challenges, Mackay has started to run small businesses (including a traditional dance troupe and chicken coop) in order to subsidize tuition costs for its students. Students themselves are involved in the day-to-day management of these businesses, which helps to prepare them for their own future business ventures. 

An article written by CEI's Nicholas Burnett and Nisma Elias that discusses loan buy-downs was published on Project Syndicate earlier this week. For more information on innovative financing in the education sector, check out this video from last week's event at The Brookings Institution on "New Ideas to Scale Up and Finance Global Education." The footage features a presentation by Nicholas Burnett on how loan buy-downs could transform education financing in the years to come.

If you are interested in the emerging business education sector, the latest addition to the CEI programs database is the This is Africa Initiative (TIA) which offers a unique business development program to secondary students in Tanzania. Through international competition and technology education, students build entrepreneurial spirit as well as a greater understanding of development challenges.


  • 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 18 | The Open IDEO Challenge - IDEO is looking for research contributions that answer the question: "How might we make low-income urban areas safer and more empowering for women and girls?" 
  • March 20 | Better Learning Outcomes in 2014 - Chief Learning Officer is hosting a webinar led by Gordon Ritchie of IBM on how organizations can better "Focus Learning on Jobs, Skills and Required Outcomes." Register for the event today!
  • 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 30 | Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation - This seven-week course introduces the concepts of human-centered design and how to use the design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change. 
  • 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.
  • April 9-11 | Sankalp Unconvention Summit 2014Sankalp Forum’s annual summit was the first platform for social enterprises in India, and rapidly became the world’s largest. Register now for the exciting event to be held this spring in Mumbai.
  • April 10 | Enabling Writers - All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is now accepting nominations for its $100,000 prize competition which incentivizes the development of software that helps writers draft texts to improve reading skills of children in developing countries.
  • May 6 | The Tech Awards - Nominate an individual or organization for outstanding technology solutions in one of five categories: Environment, Education, Young Innovator* (under the age of 27) Health, or Economic Development.
  • July 18 | Round 2 Grant CompetitionAll Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development calls for innovative technology-based solutions in three focus areas: Mother Tongue Instruction and Reading Materials, Family and Community Engagement, and Children with Disabilities.
  • 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.
  • Open Ended | Atlas Corps Fellowship - This 12-18 month professional fellowship is offered three times a year for nonprofit leaders from around the world. Develop leadership skills from the Atlas Corps Nonprofit Management Series in either the U.S. or Latin America.

Education News

The U.S. and Pakistan launched the Pakistan Reading Project last month - In partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and USAID, this initiative will allocate $160 million over the course of five years to benefit 3.2 million children, 38,000 schools, and 9,400 teachers throughout Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan's literacy rate is one of the lowest in the world - a staggering 55%. In response to this challenge, the Pakistan Reading Project seeks to create a national culture of reading in Pakistan. In addition to curriculum innovation, the initiative will provide teacher training programs, school rehabilitation services, and scholarship opportunities for low-income students. For more information on literacy programs in Pakistan, check out these initiatives from the CEI database.

In similar news, a recent initiative of the Village Shadabad Organization will bring sex education to almost 700 girls throughout rural Pakistan. The program was created to address the demands of rural communities and seeks to inform both students and parents about issues regarding puberty, sexual rights, marital rape, and steps to take in the case of an attack.

Dropout rates in Yemen on the rise due to economic and political instability - While school enrollment is a long-standing issue in Yemen due to poverty and illiteracy, the nation saw a substantial increase in the dropout rate after the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. More 20,000 students in 50 schools across the country dropped out of school over the last three years and many schools have been forced to shut down because they lack the teaching capacity or funds to continue operations.

Uganda makes noticeable efforts to close the gender gap in education - Improvements over the last decade have made Uganda one of 126 countries likely to achieve gender parity in primary education by 2015. Statistics from UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report reveal that net enrollment for both girls and boys has steadily risen - from 82.3% in 2000 to 97.2% for girls today and 88.8% in 2000 to 96.3% for boys today. Increasing enrollment is the first step towards creating a schooling system free of gender discrimination; next steps will require gender-sensitive school infrastructure, teacher training, and learning materials to improve learning outcomes.

Point of Departure

In a recent blog post by India's Business Standard, blogger Subir Shukla asks the following question: "Does measuring outcomes improve accountability in education?" As foundations and NGOs from around the world increasingly look to learning assessment as a way to measure the quality of education, Shukla suggests that additional factors may not be receiving the attention they deserve. He argues that current assessment tools are overly simplistic thus preventing deeper-rooted issues from being addressed. 

His main points suggest that while the quality of education has been comprehensively measured over the last several years, learning outcomes have not significantly improved - therefore current assessment strategies need to be revised. Shukla argues that "measurable" outcomes are not necessarily "meaningful" outcomes, that "measuring outcomes does not account for contexts and tends to disadvantage (and label) those facing adverse conditions," and that the current focus on outcomes obfuscates accountability.
WEIGH IN - What impact do you think the measurement of learning outcomes has had on improving learning outcomes globally? In what ways do you think the international community can increase accountability in the education sector?


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