Home | 2011 Workshop




Shaping the Youth Bulge: Responding to Challenges of Economic Growth, Security and Health

The opening plenary session featured an engaging presentation by Emmanuel Jimenez from the World Bank. Jimenez presented the purpose and findings of the World Development Report (WDR), which emphasizes the policy effects of the youth bulge on education and human capacity development. Demographic trends worldwide are producing a bulge among youth age 10-24, which is becoming a relevant issue for labor productivity and human development as youth move into the labor force. Country programs and strategies concerning youth have a window of opportunity to take advantage of the opportunities this youth bulge presents for building a generation of educated and engaging youth. The WDR focused on assessing government policies through three youth lenses: 1) opportunities; 2) capabilities; and 3) second chances. Under the heading of opportunities, the WDR assessed how youth can be included in the labor force; international donors and country governments need to focus on the linkages between education and the labor force. In terms of youth capabilities, the education sector needs to shape the level of information and knowledge that youth possess in making key decisions. Youth are risk-takers; this youth lens must assist youth to become more capable decision makers. Second-chance programs are sustainable if they are designed to attract young people who may have made mistakes. More importantly, second-change programs need to help youth re-enter mainstream society, whether through job training or education equivalency programs. The largest challenges in addressing education programs for youth are: coordination of government ministries to include youth, providing a united voice for youth, and creating effective evaluation mechanisms to provide evidence that integrated youth programs work.

For the full session summary, please click here: Shaping the Youth Bulge Summary


Education, Fragility and Conflict: Challenges and Opportunities

Research shows that education can mitigate fragility, and that programming must be carried out with attention to the root causes of fragility: corruption, discrimination and exclusion, organized violence, and other causes. Panelists discussed experiences in Uganda, Liberia, South Sudan and Afghanistan in unique country contexts with varying root causes. Participants noted the importance of dealing with impacts and threats at the grassroots level, such as psychosocial services for students and teachers. Former combatants and others may have little faith in institutions and government, and reconstructing that faith and viability is a long-term process. If root causes are not addressed, there is potential to slide back into conflict – old dividing lines may continue to exist, while new ones are sometimes created. At the national and policy level, extreme corruption is a threat that must be addressed in order to avoid the perception of unequal benefits. Reintegrating a large segment of the population back into education systems, society and the economy will require sequenced interventions, including immediate and private sector-linked workforce development efforts.

For the full session summary, please click here: Education, Fragility, and Conflict: Challenges and Opportunities Summary

Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Assessments

The session presented a quick overview of the objective, development and methodology, pilot testing, and impact of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Math Assessment (EGMA) instruments, designed by RTI under the USAID EdData II Project. The universal applicability of reading and math fluency, as well as their importance for further learning, are well established. Early grade reading and math assessments and interventions are crucial because if fluency is not above a certain level by the end of first grade, students fall behind and this gap is often exacerbated in subsequent grades. Oral reading tests applied by trained evaluators or teachers are a particularly good assessment indicator and predictor of future achievement. In addition to policy awareness and motivation on a macro and community level, perhaps the most important contribution of tools like EGRA and EGMA are that they provide a baseline that can be used to identify gaps and needs. This is essential to begin making systematic changes to instruction and content in the early grades, where a fundamental knowledge base is being established, and where gaps could still be bridged, thus increasing the chance of future success. Based on that concept, the presenters highlighted findings and best practices for effective early literacy and numeracy skills, as well as strategies to improve instruction and teaching practices.

For the full session summary, please click here: Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Summary

Working with the Private Sector

This session discussed higher education development partnerships with the private sector. The intersection between the business sector, USAID and universities was investigated and it was agreed that usually there is a disconnection between the training provided by the universities and the skills demanded by the market. During the session, strategies for achieving a win-win outcome were explored and successful stories were shared. Intel stressed its contribution to the development of technology curriculum, research and entrepreneurship, as in the case of incubators. It also stressed the importance of partnerships for generating a qualified labor force in-country that reduces operating costs, and for developing the market in emerging economies. Finally, a partnership between University of Lagos, Nigeria and Kansas State was presented. Among the most important lessons from this partnership is that it is crucial to engage the host university faculty. A creative solution presented was the engagement of an advisory council of successful alumni in the market that may revise the curriculum being developed in conjunction between USAID and the host university.

For the full session summary, please click here: Working with the Private Sector Summary

Conducting Youth Assessments for Cross-sectoral Programming

This EDC-led session focused on conducting cross-sectoral youth assessments. The panel encouraged the group to draw on their own experiences in youth assessments both to ask EDC what they see as important questions to be discussed, as well as offer their own personal insights into how to improve youth assessments. Ongoing engagement and involvement with the Mission was seen as critical to the assessment. Other suggestions included ensuring that a team includes generalist as well as specialist in youth, economic development, workforce development and a local expert.

For the full session summary, please click here: Conducting Youth Assessments for Cross-Sectoral Programming Summary

Regional Platforms

This session focused on regional platforms as illustrations of technical assistance provision and gap-filling programming. Presenters emphasized that regional platforms have a propensity to serve both as effective regional training centers and to build relationships with stakeholders in the region. However, participants in this session questioned the need for a corporate model to govern the structure of USAID regional platforms; in response, many participants voiced the need for regional platforms to be able to adapt to their region’s needs. Regional platforms, furthermore, serve to bolster and support new areas of programming or recent staff additions. More importantly, regional advisors function as “hands-on mentors” who provide assistance with programming. Participants pointed out one argument in favor of a corporate model for regional platforms, the fact that the existence of a standard structural model serves to institutionalize the model, thereby providing staticity. However, the consensus was that flexibility is more important than standardization, as this leeway allows regional platforms to be more effective.

For the full session summary, please click here: Regional Platforms Summary

Participant Training: Technical Aspects

This session discussed the three systems and four roles that explain how TraiNET/VCS/SEVIS works. The qualification and roles of the verifier, approver and submitter within the VCS system were presented. The policies underlying the roles and systems were discussed using case studies suggested by the audience, and it was agreed that there are often communication gaps between Washington and the Missions. Types of visa issues were covered and the importance of the J visa was detailed. Examples of fraud committed against USAID were analyzed and methods to avoid such pitfalls were discussed.

For the full session summary, please click here: Participant Training: Technical Aspects Summary


Radio for Hard-to-Reach Populations

Using Zambia, Somalia, and Sudan as case studies, presenters discussed the benefits of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) to improve both student learning and teacher competence both in general and particularly as a means of reaching hard-to-reach children. IRI is no longer an experimental technology; in numerous settings it has proven to be quite a successful aid to student learning, especially in language arts, mathematics, and social studies for the lower grades. Daily lessons, typically lasting 30 minutes per subject, seem to provide the greatest learning. As teachers are provided with well-defined guides as to what they should be doing and how they should be interacting with their students during the broadcasts, effective in-service training, even for instructors who may be barely literate themselves, can be imparted along with student progress along the subject curriculum. Recurrent costs and costs per student can be quite low, frequently under 12 cents per subject per learner; however, program implementers should be aware that start-up costs can be high and programming cannot start instantaneously. Because IRI is still unfamiliar to many Ministries of Education, implementation typically needs champions at the Mission and at the MOE, as well as an awareness that significant support infrastructure is often needed in terms of providing guidance and materials to classes, who may be hard to reach.

For the full session summary, please click here: Radio for Hard to Reach Populations Summary

Not Your Same Old Literacy Programs

This session discussed PACT’s WORTH program combines literacy with loan groups for women in Asia and Africa and highlighted their successful work with women in Nepal. Despite the program formally ending after being disrupted due to Maoist activities, a recent evaluation found main of the literacy and loan groups still running. This session was highly interactive, with the group being led in lending activity that demonstrated how these programs generate profit from their loans and interest rates for the women involved in the program.

For the full session summary, please click here: Not Your Same Old Literacy Programs Summary

Supporting In-service Teacher Training

This session focused on the design and program strategies for implementing in-service teacher training programs. Interactive presentations from Nigeria, Mali, and the Philippines highlighted the importance of designing programs in areas where teacher quality is low and teachers lack in both content and methodology knowledge. In Nigeria and Mali, significant challenges were also presented in the education context, where student literacy and access to education are also dire. In Mali, Interactive Radio Programs (IRI) were used to increase teacher and student competency in reading and writing. The Mali mission worked very closely with the government to promote training of the whole Malian teaching core, especially in a country where teacher training and curricula vary greatly across school types. In Nigeria, basic education is still a strong focus, both in access and quality. Teacher training universities are often overcrowded and facilities are inadequate. The USAID mission has made great strides in introducing teacher training using IRI programs and face-to-face trainings. However, challenges are still in measuring progress and success over time. Finally, in Philippines the USAID mission has made great strides in focus on content training of teachers. The largest issue is that teachers cannot be taught interactive methodologies if they are not confident in the content they teach. Tom Crehan emphasized the need for public/private partnerships with other donor agencies and the need to integrate different partners at the technical and regional level to ensure successful teacher quality. Challenges among all of the programs was in integrating with the government education policy, collaborating with other donors, and measuring progress in teacher training over time, whether through student assessment or teacher observation.

For the full session summary, please click here: Supporting In-Service Teacher Training Summary

Applying the Community College Model

The applicability and relevance of the US Community College Model to developing country contexts was discussed in this engaging session. Speakers from three leading US community colleges shared their respective colleges’ experience working internationally, from short-term programs that train international students in US colleges, to adapting the US model to developing country contexts, to assisting developing countries in creating similar programs in their countries. In the US, community colleges are “the main engine of economic growth.” These institutions create programs that address the needs of communities and the labor market. Some conclusions of the session: there is a need for these types of institutions in developing countries; as the examples shared in this session illustrate, some components of the model are transportable and can be successfully applied in other country settings.

For the full session summary, please click here: Applying the Community College Model Summary

Research on the Demographics of Drop-outs in Education and Policy Implications

This presentation reported the preliminary findings of a study on the demographics of drop-outs in education done by EDC. The study proposed that the adequacy of knowledge and data on out-of-school youth be examined in order to support generation of a framework for policy development on the issue. Driven by the recent emphasis of EFA on increasing primary enrollments and attention to the Youth Bulge phenomenon which is occurring world-wide, researchers analyzed DHS data in order to generate a profile of out-of-school youths. Sub-Saharan Africa was studied initially with the surprising results that about half of the youth, 3 out of 4 10-14 year olds, were classified as out-of-school. The researchers clarified that these youths had had no education at all and were not just drop-outs from a formal education program. The study then focused on the country of Ethiopia to ascertain results on a more local basis. The issue of being out-of-school had implications of geographic location, poverty, and gender.

For the full session summary, please click here: Research on the Demographics of Drop-outs in Education and Policy Implications Summary

Private Sector Perspective on Public-Private Partnerships in Challenging Contexts for Workforce Development

This session discussed the Konbit Ak Tet Ansanm (KATA) Program, funded by USAID and implemented by CHF International. The program is comprised of job creation efforts in three sectors: construction (training Haitians to operate heavy machinery), textiles (the creation of the Haitian Apparel Institute), and agriculture (the export of Haitian peppers and pepper products to the United States). Though this program is relatively new, lessons learned were discussed, among them: work with international aid programs so that managers understand that the overall goal is worth the effort; understand the local power structure as it relates to the project so that the program’s effects fit in with the local environment; geographical decentralization will allow even rural participants a chance to improve their economic situation; and ensure that the jobs for which participants are trained are extant, available jobs, rather than ideal jobs that are nonexistent in the local market.

For the full session summary, please click here: A Private Sector Perspective on Public-Private Partnerships in Challenging Contexts for Workforce Development Summary

For questions related to the 2009 Education Workshop,
please contact Rebekah Levi at rlevi@jbsinternational.com