For the past six years, FHI 360 has worked with community schools in New York City and Hempstead, Long Island. When COVID-19 hit earlier this year, the way we did our work immediately shifted away from focusing on in-person supports for students and families. Our first hurdle was bridging the digital divide, that gap between who has access to technology and the internet— and the skills to use them — and who doesn’t.
Around the world, more than 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Living rooms have transformed into classrooms. Lesson plans have gone virtual. What are the challenges that parents, students and teachers are facing as they suddenly shift to remote learning? How have, and how will, the adaptations that school systems are making to continue operating during a pandemic shape education in Africa in the future?
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, imagine you are a young person just out of jail, on parole or dropped out of high school. You are determined to get a new start on your life, and you are focused on getting the education and workforce skills you need to move from surviving to thriving. You already have a steep hill to climb. And then, the pandemic hits and everything becomes more complicated.
What are the systems, trends and ideas that are shaping education in the United States? What needs to be done to promote transformative education reform?
In this episode of A Deeper Look podcast, I speak with education reformer Dr. Warren Simmons, currently Senior Policy Advisor at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. We draw parallels between the challenges in education reform in the United States and in low-income countries, including how inadequate funding models can perpetuate a cycle of poverty and how successful programs can be difficult to scale and replicate. We also discuss the power of local voices and community organizing and the importance of making our education systems more culturally responsive. Dr. Simmons highlights the need for cross-sector partnerships in order to achieve lasting reform and discusses how schools and communities must work together to adapt to the future.
The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe women (DREAMS) partnership aspires to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. These countries alone accounted for more than half of the HIV infections that occurred among adolescent girls and young women globally in 2015.
DREAMS reaches beyond the health sector to address the direct and indirect factors that increase girls’ HIV risk, such as poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence and inadequate education. Interventions can include paying school fees, providing bicycles to girls who would otherwise walk long distances to school, supplying sanitary napkins for menstrual hygiene management and offering mentoring to help girls avoid early pregnancy, gender-based violence and discrimination. DREAMS is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare.
Two young women who participate in DREAMS projects attended FHI 360’s 2018 Gender 360 Summit and discussed how DREAMS is making a difference in their lives. Here are their stories.
In education in conflict and crisis (EiCC) situations, community members often take on new roles to provide essential education and psychosocial support services to children. This is especially true for female teachers, who are expected to provide academic and nurturing care to their students while also caring for their families and coping with their own social, emotional and material needs. This is a tall order, and female teachers do not receive the support they need to be as effective — and engaged — as possible.
A version of this post originally appeared on Locus. Reposted with permission. Locus is a coalition of organizations dedicated to advancing evidence-based solutions to global development challenges that are integrated, driven by local communities and based on shared measures. FHI 360 is a member.
Here’s a development scenario you’re probably familiar with: Imagine a young girl growing up in a remote rural area, raised in a poor family. Girls here are not typically encouraged in the same way as boys are to imagine themselves having exciting future careers, nor even the more vanilla option of working at the sole local factory. Virtually all the local authority figures are men. Contraception (especially for adolescents) carries a shameful stigma and is difficult to access. The girl’s school is chronically underfunded. Some of her peers get pregnant early, some drop out of school, some marry early. In short, she faces several financial and social barriers to a healthy, stable and productive future. Now be honest: were you picturing a young girl from a poor country in Africa or Asia? If so, you’re wrong.
That girl was me. Who grew up in America and is now a healthy, educated woman with a successful career. Does now knowing that the girl in the story was American make the happy ending less surprising? Probably so, and that illustrates a fundamental problem with the way we approach empowering women and girls in the developing world. Indeed, clearly the privilege of growing up in America provided me with a deeply significant advantage in overcoming those initial roadblocks to a healthy and happy life. But what about all of the other various ingredients, that when combined together became my recipe for success? Shouldn’t girls and women be supported in the same way, no matter where they live? Let’s break it down.
Technology improves early grade reading in Rwanda by connecting teachers, mentors and education partnersAn Interview with
Chantal Uwiragiye, Literacy Specialist, FHI 360
To support ongoing efforts to improve education in Rwanda, the Mentorship Community of Practice project launched in 2013. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by FHI 360, this project developed an online community of practice that promotes peer learning and sharing of resources; provides access to education resources through an e-library; and helps mentors get support from each other, the Rwanda Education Board and other education programs.
As a result of the project’s success, USAID decided to expand access to teachers in the Rwanda Education Board’s school-based mentor initiative and to focus on early grade reading in a new program called the Teachers Community of Practice (TCOP), which will be introduced as part of USAID’s Early Grade Reading project launch in February 2017.
Literacy expert Chantal Uwiragiye talks about the program’s innovations, successes and key learnings.
Over the past decade, there has been important progress in achieving the target of universal primary education. The total enrollment rate in developing regions reached 91 percent in 2015, and worldwide the number of children out of school has dropped by almost half. Still, disparities between children living in the poorest and wealthiest households and between those living in rural and urban areas remain high. How can these disparities be tackled to make education inclusive?