What we’re learning | What we’re reading: Girls’ Education & Technology – How can technology be used to maximise learning outcomes for girls?

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This is Part 4 of a six-part blog series inspired by discussions with partners working in the EdTech space who recognise they do not have the information they need to make informed decisions and recommendations. So, we have put together a series summarising what we have learned so far in each of our focus areas: Data for Decisions, Digital Personalised Learning (DPL), Girls’ Education & Technology, Participation & Messaging, and Teacher Continuous Professional Development. We provide some key lessons, an outline of our ongoing work, and some additional resources (written by our partners and by us) for readers who want to delve deeper. You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Girls are educationally marginalised in most countries. Yet, the evidence is that educating girls is among the most effective ways to end poverty at the community level. Technology can either exacerbate or reduce education inequality for girls depending on the ways in which it is used. When used effectively, technology can be used as a tool to help break down the barriers that stop female students all over the world from accessing and progressing in high-quality education. 

Our goal is to improve learning outcomes for girls. We have specific studies focused on girls and EdTech, and a gender lens is also applied to all our work as a cross-cutting theme.

We are working towards this goal through research, the production of global goods, and provision of advice. Some of our ongoing efforts include:

  • Working with UNICEF Bangladesh to understand how technology can be used to support better numeracy outcomes among marginalised learners, including girls. 
  • Working with the Girls’ Education Challenge to capture evidence on how technology can improve learning outcomes for girls. 
  • Working with Busara and Ubongo to understand how edutainment can improve literacy, social-emotional learning and gender attitudes for early child learning in Tanzania and Kenya. 

In recent months, EdTech Hub has also developed guidance on gender equity for the UNICEF Sudan e-learning initiative and produced a brief on STEM skills initiatives for girls in the Latin America and Caribbean region. We previously collaborated with Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) to develop a distance teaching and learning guide. We partnered with the international development organisation BRAC to test and adapt a telephone helpline to enable girls’ learning in the South Asia region.

What are some of the lessons from our work?

  • Girls are likely to have higher levels of engagement than boys when provided with equal access to tech. For example, significantly greater use of the Worldreader app has been recorded among female readers compared to male readers.
  • Parents and caregivers are gatekeepers to girls’ tech access. Without the involvement of parents and caregivers in EdTech programme development and training, it is likely that the gender digital divide may only increase. 
  • Using a broader range of technology, such as mobile phones and SMS messaging may create more opportunities for girls. Leveraging technology, often low-tech, that is most frequently owned can reduce the risks of exacerbating digital divides. 

What should you read next?

  1. Understanding Barriers to Girls’ Access and Use of EdTech in Kenya During Covid-19 (Busara with EdTech Hub)
  2. The Power of Girls’ Reading Camps: Exploring the impact of radio lessons, peer learning and targeted paper-based resources on girls’ remote learning in Kenya (Education Development Trust with EdTech Hub)
  3. Girls’ Education and EdTech: A Rapid Evidence Review (EdTech Hub)
  4. Inequalities in Girls’ Learning Opportunities via EdTech: Addressing the Challenge of Covid-19 (EdTech Hub)
  5. Your Questions Answered: Using Technology to Support Gender Equity, Social Inclusion and Out-Of-School Learning (EdTech Hub Helpdesk Request)
  6. Cracking the code: girls’ and women’s education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (UNESCO)
  7. Accessible Digital Learning Portal (Accessible Digital Learning)
  8. Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality Evidence briefs – insights into the gender digital divide for girls (UNICEF)
  9. EGER Roadmap (Population Council)
  10. Reimagining Girls’ Education: Solutions to Keep Girls Learning in Emergencies (UNICEF)

Coming Next: Our reading recommendations for one of our five focus areas – Participation & Messaging. And you can always find more in our Evidence Library.

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