GEC Fund Manager, UK
Rachel Booth, GEC Fund Manager
The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) was launched by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) in 2012 to improve the learning outcomes of millions of marginalised girls across the world who have been denied a quality education. To date 37 organisations and consortia have received funding to implement a diverse range of projects all aimed at boosting literacy and numeracy, improving attendance and retention, and influencing the educational environment so that many other children benefit in the future. Lead organisations have ranged from community based networks to international NGOs to multinational companies.
The new phase of the GEC comprises two new windows: GEC Transition and Leave No Girl Behind. The Transition window supports DFID’s commitment to ensuring 12 years of quality education for all children by continuing to work with the 1 million girls supported since 2012 as they transition to the next stage of their education. Projects work in both formal and non-formal sectors implementing a broad range of interventions including teacher development and school improvement;educational technology and distance learning;community engagement;and financial support to girls, their families and their schools.
The Leave No Girl Behind programme reaches beyond the scope of conventional education strategies to engage out-of-school adolescent girls with new learning opportunities. A set of bespoke, innovative initiatives will support girls onto vocational and educational pathways, and enable them to gain sustainable skills including literacy and numeracy.
In this panel presentation we will share end-line findings from the first phase of GEC and discuss what has been achieved and learned about girls’ education before looking ahead to the expectations of the new phase. We will explore the meaning of marginalisation, the effects and impact of different interventions in specific contexts, including those affected by conflict, crisis and uncertainty, and the role of educational technology.
Delivering on SDG4: Inclusive Education and opportunities for all
The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) works with girls who are educationally marginalised and who face a wide and complex set of marginalisation factors stemming from prevailing social norms, adverse personal circumstances and unfavourable environmental conditions. During the first phase of GEC it was estimated that between 1-4% of girls within the portfolio were disabled, however there was no standardised approach to capturing data on disability and some projects recorded that they had no girls with disabilities in their target groups. Lessons from GEC1 have led to the development of better data disaggregation processes for phase two to help understand the range and depth of impairments that may affect girls’ educational outcomes, and to support projects to be inclusive in their project design and implementation.
The GEC Fund Manager has developed a conceptual framework for understanding how and why girls become marginalised. This is helping to clarify the often conflated issues of characteristics and barriers that lead to educational marginalisation.
Baseline evaluations from the 27 GEC Transition projects to date have used the marginalisation framework principles and the Washington Group questions on disability to generate disaggregated data that will help us understand the impairments present in the target beneficiary groups and how they interact with the home, school and policy environments.
At the Project level, a number of projects have met the challenge of disability inclusion and enhanced their efforts to reach the most marginalised girls, both within mainstream interventions as well as through specific targeting.
Drawing on lessons from these projects including the new baseline data, this session will reflect on the challenges, realities and best practice of supporting girls with disabilities within education projects, and share the monitoring approach and tools being used to track inclusion in the GEC.
Delivering on SDG4 Against the Odds
Given its remit to support the education of marginalised girls, it is not surprising that a high proportion of GEC projects operate in difficult contexts including those affected by conflict, crisis and uncertainty. In these situations, implementing organisations have to carefully navigate volatile circumstances and be ready to respond quickly when risk levels escalate. Education, in these contexts, often falls down the priority list and projects have to find innovative solutions in order to continue to deliver.
This session will present case studies from a selection of projects who have successfully increased girls’ learning outcomes despite difficult prevailing contexts. We will discuss how projects have overcome four key challenges:
1. Weak and fragmented state structures
2. Ongoing threat of violence
3. Drought and disease and lack of infrastructure to deal with the effects
4. High levels of migration and displacement
Evidence will be shared from:
• Afghanistan, where a community based model has engaged local women as change-makers to bring quality education to girls who would otherwise not be in school.
• Somalia, where two projects have forged partnerships with local stakeholders to improve the quality of education in primary and secondary schools, bringing greater stability to girls’ lives through education.
• Northern Kenya refugee camps, where teachers have been mentored and supported to adopt effective classroom approaches for girls who have missed out on large chunks of their education.
• Sierra Leone, where the Ebola epidemic forced schools to close and meant projects had to find new ways to enable girls to continue learning.
Delivering on SDG4 through Technology
Innovation through technology has been a key feature of the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) from the start, reflecting a growing interest in its potential to raise educational outcomes. Projects are using technology in three key ways:
1. to improve teaching and learning
2. to support more effective school management and in particular the use of data
3. to raise awareness and influence attitudes about girls’ education.
This session will explore the range of tech-related activities used by GEC projects including: connectivity and hardware provision;development of subject specific software and teaching resources;individualised learning support;data management and reporting systems;and virtual peer networking facilities.
We will look at the effectiveness of these interventions in increasing attendance, improving the quality of education and ultimately accelerating learning outcomes.
Where ed-tech is used to promote improvements in teaching and learning we have seen the importance of high quality learning content and curriculum materials and of allowing for sufficient time on task (for teachers and students) especially when technology is new. There is evidence of the motivational effect technology can have on learners and how it can increase flexibility of when and where learning takes place.
Where ed-tech is used to support improved school management, projects have been able to improve data reliability and depth;lessons include the need for planned integration with existing school management practices and the value of engaging local stakeholders in discussions using the data. Where ed-tech is used to raise awareness and influence attitudes and expectations for girls’ education, the potential reach and impact is high, but there are challenges in measuring the resultant change.
Use of technology raises dilemmas about cost, value for money and sustainability. These issues will be discussed using illustrations from current projects and key lessons from the GEC will be shared.