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

May 08, 2015Duncan McCullough

This Week at CEI:

Nicholas Burnett shares his thoughts this week on combating the "financial barriers preventing poor children's participation in early childhood programs".  Burnett emphasizes the importance for action now, and gives three practical recommendations for the ECD field to chart a more impactful course.  Read the candid article, and share your opinion about the best ways to invest in young children.

What's better than an auditorium full of education implementers, researchers, and funders singing 80's power ballads?  Kavita Hatipoglu returns from Billund, Denmark with an inside look at how balloons, classic rock, and education financing all came together at the Lego Idea Conference.  The event put its principles into practice by using interactive activities to support the conference theme of "Overcoming Barriers to Playful Learning".  And make sure to check out CEI's Twitter page for pictures of and links to the playfully productive conference. 

CEI adds an important tool in its efforts to facilitate innovative solutions within Fragile and Conflict-Affected States.  The new FCS topic portal includes four sections for practitioners to navigate; an Overview page, Data Visualizations, Programs, and a News and Resources area for implementers to stay informed and connected.  The topic portal also features a custom Database-at-a-Glance that analyzes current and emerging trends in education programming in fragile and conflict states. We urge all our readers to share the link and help those working in FCS states engage with the CEI community.

In a recent blog post, I examine the importance of multi-level advocacy in advance of the World Education Forum in Incheon, South Korea this month.  The Global Campaign for Education’s Global Action Week is designed to marshal lobbying efforts to ensure high-level officials chart an ambitious, productive path to 2030.  But community-level promotion is also critical, and the piece profiles CEI-featured programs in Kenya and India preparing new advocates pushing policy forward at the grassroots.


Open now through May 15: CEI and CHMI, in collaboration with UBS Optimus Foundation are seeking nominations for innovative programs working in child health, education, and violence prevention in West Africa.  Programs that utilize an integrated approach among sectors are of particular interest.  Submit your program nomination form here.

Open Now through June’s Amplify Challenge continues accepting ideas for innovative ways to support teachers in refugee contexts that pose unique challenges to learning outcomes.  Submit your idea before June 11th and if selected, receive funding and invaluable design support.

Open now through June 12The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is accepting grant applications from teacher preparation transformation centers early in development that are scalable and effective.  The Foundation is particularly interested in innovative solutions to strengthening the connection between student and teacher, and we urge all relevant CEI community members to explore this opportunity.

May 19-22:  Experts and advocates meet later this month at the World Education Forum to discuss the path forward now that the Millennium Development Goals have expired.  Comments on the Draft Framework for Action can be sent until May 11th, so make sure your voice is heard.

May 20:  For our UK readers, the Center for Global Development hosts a “Sandwich Seminar” on Internal Migration as a Shock-Coping Strategy: Evidence from a Tycoon.  The event examines a natural disaster in Vietnam to provide insight into how people react to unexpected shocks through remittances and labor migration especially.

May 20:  CEI and Toniic, a global network of 200 impact investors in over 25 countries, are calling for early-stage programs that are for-profit or hybrid in structure, scalable, and deliver a positive social impact.  Equity or financing requests between $50,000 and $3M USD are being accepted.  At this point, this opportunity is only available to programs already with CEI profiles.  If your program is not yet profiled on CEI, click here to learn about joining.  And for additional information on submission criteria, view the announcement here.

Open, rolling:  The Global Innovation Fund accepts applications on a rolling basis, so there’s no looming deadline.  Just a reminder that the Fund provides support for innovative solutions, especially those with a focus on vulnerable groups and people living on less than $2 per day (PPP). 

Education News Around the World:

Teachers rarely get the credit they deserve.  This week people across the United States tried to remedy that with a week long focus on National Teacher Appreciation.  Here at CEI, we see daily the indomitable spirit of teachers around the world, and this blogger wants to take the opportunity to give his special thanks to Ms. Ferguson.  Ms. Ferguson gave me the lead role in the first grade's class play, despite the difficulties I had then in reading.  She stayed with me after class and we practiced my lines together.  And on the day of the performance, I brought the house down.  Her patience and support have helped me ever since.

Vicki Phillips adds her own take on teacher-appreciation in her recent post to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's education blog, Impatient Optimists, and lists the 5 Ways Teacher Inspire Me.  She writes about the pivotal guidance teachers have given her, and reflects on the millions of teachers that positively impact students, "not just this week, but every week".

Barack Obama joins the conversation as well.  Read his memory of being the shy kid in Indonesia and how a committed educator helped him develop and grow, as well as other content detailing the important role of teachers in education today over at NPR's Education Blog.

In other news, Beth Alaimo details a neighborhood revitalization program in Panama City, Panama offering gang members job training and other important skills investments.  The fascinating profile from Global Envision highlights a program tackling difficult urban challenges with an emphasis on inclusiveness and sustainability.  To learn more about the skills programs for youth CEI profiles in South America, click here.

The authors of 8 Common Innovation Traps tackle the question of why impact efforts trying to support innovation can often fall short.  For the most part, funders understand the importance of innovation, but have difficulties implementing and even conceptualizing how to make those inventive approaches work.  Improper timelines, or an excessive aversion to risk are just some of the “traps” discussed in this useful piece for funders and programs alike.   

The Global Partnership for Education’s blog shares a firsthand look into Cambodia’s recent gains in early childhood services with a captivating photo series.  Follow the photographer’s journey through a variety of ECD approaches to see some of the best practices put into action, and, of course, some really cute kids.

Photo Credit: Bridge International Academies, Kenya

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