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

June 19, 2015Duncan McCullough

This Week at CEI

The controversy at FIFA continues to surprise (and disappoint), with recent news suggesting that FIFA President Sepp Blatter may reverse his decision to resign.  Far from the twists and turns of the FIFA investigation though, people all over the world still love the beautiful game.  Last week, CEI featured four organizations using this love of the game to reach children in challenging contexts and provide critical education and skills development.  Soccer has been a valuable tool for these organizations, and the feature contains several dynamic photographs of the kids in action.

Gabriel Zinny continues to contribute thoughtful, timely analysis to the CEI community.  This week, we published his thoughts on the growing influence of social impact investing in Latin America.  He details several innovative new funds, entrepreneurs, and government-backed incubators in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.  Immense challenges remain in Latin America, but the growth of the middle class is opening up opportunities to align private business incentives with broad-based development.  It will be fascinating to see how these impact investors shape the future, for Latin America as well as the rest of the world.

School fees arise out of an understandable need to pay for teachers, supplies, infrastructure and more.  But they are also an enormous barrier to millions of children and families who do not have the money to pay for the education they deserve.  Elimu Yetu, which means ‘Our Education’ in Swahili, is a civil society coalition in Kenya advocating vigorously against these fees that prevent access to too many children in the country.  Their group has won several important victories, but they are not done yet.  With their sights now set on secondary education, global advocates everywhere should follow their work for lessons about how a dedicated group of citizens can make their voices heard.

The work to educate girls remains a stubbornly strenuous task.  Violence, corruption, and gender marginalization all continue to plague efforts.  For Christine Wallace though, Fund Manager for the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC), there is cause for “cautious optimism”.  Community based schools in particular, are providing transformative education to girls throughout the country.  Practitioners and advocates alike hope that this approach will prove to be more sustainable, and may guide initiatives in other challenging contexts.

Events & Opportunities

June 23, 10am GMT: Bill Gates Facebook Q&A

Bill Gates will be answering questions about his efforts to eradicate poverty and address many of the world’s greatest challenges.  The Q&A will begin at 10am GMT.  Questions can be left on the Gates Foundation Facebook page, or also submitted in advance here.

June 24, 2:00 – 3:30pm EDT: Resolving post-disaster displacement crises: Insights from the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

When a natural disaster hits a developing country, the recovery can take years.  Homes, infrastructure, and livelihoods were washed away after the typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, but this tragedy may yield important lessons for recovery efforts moving forward.  Next Wednesday, Brookings Institution hosts an event sharing the results of an extensive study of the post-Haiyan experience, and the insights gleamed that may increase the effectiveness of future post-disaster efforts.

Open through June 30: Academic Capacity Development Program/Returning Scholars Fellowship Program

The Open Society Foundations presents a Fellowship opportunity to recent MA or PHD graduates in a variety of fields that are returning to their home country in hopes of beginning an academic career in higher-education.  For a list of eligible fields, and other requirements, learn more about the Fellowship here.  The final deadline for application is June 30th, so don’t delay.

Open through August 14: HDIF Tanzania 2nd Funding Round

The second round of funding for the Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) is now open!  HDIF is a five-year, £30 million UK aid challenge designed to support innovation and market-driven solutions with the potential to create social impact in education, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across Tanzania.  The first step is submitting a concept note, but final awardees can receive anywhere from £150,000 to £400,000.  If you have an idea or project that could help in Tanzania, don’t let this opportunity go to waste.

Open through August 23: RISE Call for Research Proposals

RISE, or Research on Improving Systems of Education is a significant initative from DFID that is funding efforts to aid understanding of education systems, and their potential for reforms to improve outcomes.  The Launch event takes place in London on June 24, with events following around the world.  The first deadline for Expressions of Interest is August 23rd.  For more information on RISE events, as well as Terms of Reference for the research proposals, click here.

Education News From Around the World

Let girls learn: the world needs their talent

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and current chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education, describes a recent event with United States First Lady Michelle Obama for the Let Girls Learn initiative.  The event featured a passionate speech from Mrs. Obama, followed by an engaging Q&A with her and Julia Gillard.  To read Gillard’s account of the day, and see video from the event click here.

Africa's demographics are a dividend, not a time bomb — if we can get the basics right

The large youth population across Africa is often thought of as a major challenge in global development.  Ghada Hammouda, writing for Devex this week, turns this thinking on its head.  Hammouoda believes that Africa’s demographics create an immense opportunity for nations throughout the continent.  She details investments in education, skills development and more that hold true promise to transforming Africa’s youth population into an incredible asset for future economic growth.  With specific examples from many different African nations, Hammouda makes a compelling call for further action.

What will the Sustainable Development Goals really mean for education? (Part I)

Writing for Brookings' Education + Development Blog, Joshua Muskin uses the Incheon Declaration from last month’s World Education Forum as a springboard to discuss the importance of improving the quality and relevance of education post-2015.  Muskin prioritizes “the ability to seek, identify, analyze, and comprehend” over simple retention of information.  He acknowledges the difficulty of this kind of soft skills development, but makes a strong case that the benefits to such an approach are well worth the efforts.  In part two of his series, Muskin indicates he’ll dive deeper into what a more relevant education approach will look like in the classroom, as well as its effects on other aspects of the education system.  As the adoption of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals draws close, his contributions couldn’t come at a better time.

Point of Departure

“Summer" and "vacation” are among the two sweetest words a child in school can hear.  “Summer homework” on the other hand, can be pretty bitter.  One teacher in Italy though, has taken a creative approach to summer homework in an attempt to make sure his students have a productive, but also rewarding and fun summer.  The 15 summer assignments Cesare Catà gave to his class include items like, “Try to use some of the words we learned together this year”, “Dance Shamelessly”, and “At least once, watch the sunrise”.  The mix of self-reflection and self-improvement create a compelling list.

Are there any assignments you’ll try to complete this summer?  Or perhaps you have a suggestion for an addition to the list that would further the kind of holistic approach Catà is after?   Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@CEInnovations) and Facebook.

Photo Credit: Shining Hope for Communities

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