Guest blog written by Michelle Kaffenberger, Kirsty Newman, Marla Spivack
Guaranteeing quality education for every girl requires a two-pronged approach: bailing out the boat and fixing the hole in its hull. We need to invest in today’s primary school girls—who are future adolescents—to ensure that they gain the foundational skills they need to start and stay on a strong learning trajectory. Programmes aimed at girls who have already reached adolescence need to focus on closing learning gaps, not just inducing greater attendance, so that girls reap the full benefit of additional time spent in school.
The consequences of low learning
You only have to look at modern-day heroines Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg to appreciate the power that adolescent girls have to change the world. Their potential is limitless. But tragically, too many adolescent girls struggle to reach their full potential, often because education systems are failing them. Many stakeholders blame early marriage, pregnancy, or entry into the workforce for pulling girls out of school, and propose solutions to tackle these. But these pulls are often symptoms of dropout. The deeper cause is often low learning pushing girls out.
A new RISE Insight Note discusses how insights from learning trajectories (analysis of how much children learn over time) can inform approaches to supporting today’s and tomorrow’s girls. For many children in developing countries, learning trajectories are too shallow and flatten out far too quickly. The illustration in Figure 1 shows how damaging flat learning trajectories can be. The purple line shows a learning trajectory that makes enough progress to reach threshold goals, like basic arithmetic, early and sets girls up to reach aspirational goals (like advanced calculus) by the end of school. But the orange learning trajectory is too flat, meaning that children learn little and fall behind the level of instruction. Even if a girl whose learning follows this trajectory persists all the way to the end of school, she can’t reach even the threshold goal at this slow learning pace.
written by Michelle Kaffenberger, Danielle Sobol, Deborah Spindelman, Marla Spivack
A new paper shows that girls who are learning are more likely to stay in school. Improving learning could be key to achieving both schooling and learning goals.
The G7 recently agreed to two new education objectives: ensure that 40 million more girls attend school and that 20 million more girls are able to read by 2026. A new RISE working paper suggests good news: that progress on the girls’ learning goal may actually be one of the keys to delivering on the girls’ schooling goal.
The paper draws on longitudinal quantitative and qualitative data from the Young Lives Surveys in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam to understand why children drop out of school. The quantitative data reveals a strong link between low learning and later dropout. The qualitative findings reveal that low learning often underlies other, more commonly cited reasons girls drop out such as marriage or work. Girls report seeking ways to provide for their futures, and when it becomes clear that they are learning too little for school to provide future security, they seek other means such as a husband or a job.
Guest blog written by Jaynnie K Mulle, Meital Tzobotaro, Rosemary Okello-Orale, Stephen Brager, Warren Harrity.
This is a team of five development practitioners who work for USAID and Strathmore University in Kenya. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in May 2019. This is their story.
The course provided a number of valuable tools, principles, and practices that are already being put to use. Additionally, a great takeaway is our team that was formed for this course, I am not sure how if it all we would have come together to work on something in a way that this course brought us together, but we are glad for this opportunity to create this team. Specific key takeaways include the emphasis on defining and deconstructing a problem rather that “applying solutions”; assessing the AAA’s and including the development of the authorization space as part of the activity; crawling the design; and appreciating that this practice is hard but rewarding. In many regards this course was a gift that enriched our thinking, refueled our enthusiasm, and helped us to look at our problem in a new and exciting way. Allow us to offer you a gift in return, if you’ve not done so already, read about one of the earliest PDIA practitioners in the “Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.”
Other take-aways from the course include:
Instead of adopting the solution that other people have to solve a problem, the course helped us to learn how to search for solutions to our problem,
The 1804 metaphor of taking small steps to solve complex problems,
The use of the fishbone to identify the cause and effects in problems and how they are interconnected. Most importantly how fishbone allows for prioritizing relevant cause so that the underlying root cause is addressed first,
There have been a lot problems and misconceptions surrounding Menstruation in developing countries particularly in Nigeria. Menstrual Hygiene management amongst women and adolescent girls has become a matter of concern in recent age especially in rural areas where accesses to modern facilities are hindered by a number of factors and myths surrounding this subject.
This era as described by the PHAAE Organization as an “era of new puberty” by a recent study where increasing number of girls starts to develop their sexuality at an early age of 7 or 8. In sharp contrast to the 1960s, where only 1% of girls would enter puberty before their 9th birthday.
In tackling this issue, PHAAE adopted the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) in order not to be mired by the “big stuck” or “capability trap” where developing countries and organizations thereof are stuck doing the same thing year after year that doesn’t improve or help the situation or produce results. Even when everyone can agree in broad terms that Menstrual hygiene management amongst adolescent girls and women in marginalized areas is very poor as a result of lack of modern facilities, an inability to actually implement a strategy that addresses this means there is little or nothing to show for this realization despite the time, money and efforts (if any). Continue reading Using the PDIA Approach for Menstrual Hygiene in Nigeria