Girls’ Education & Technology

Barriers to Educational Equity

What is Girls’ Education & Technology? Technology that tackles the barriers girls face in the pursuit of education.

The challenge facing the education sector: Girls are educationally marginalized in most countries. Yet, the evidence is that educating girls is among the most effective ways to end poverty at community level.

And so we ask: How can technology be used to maximise learning outcomes for girls? And how can DPL, TCPD, Data for Decisions, and Participation & Messaging be viewed through a lens of educating girls.

Our goal

Improve learning outcomes for girls

Girls are educationally marginalised in most countries. 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. 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.

Latest evidence

Topic Area Readouts
Working Papers

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of approximately 90,000 schools across Kenya, causing over 18 million pre-primary, primary, and secondary school learners to be out of school throughout 2020.

These lockdown measures of Covid-19 are expected to amplify gender inequalities in education and girls’ access to school, with girls likely to have experienced losses in learning during the pandemic to a greater extent than their male counterparts (⇡Malala Fund, 2020).

Our qualitative and quantitative research looked at how access and usage of learning content and edutainment through smartphone and low-tech (such as radio, Interactive Voice Response, TV) EdTech solutions can be optimised to ensure inclusivity of girls, in particular, focusing on the caregiver as the gatekeeper for access to EdTech resources. In terms of access, our research found that caregivers are primarily concerned about financial resources, books and tutors, and often do not consider using EdTech to access educational resources when they are looking for support for their children. Further, our research showed that digital literacy, caregiver involvement, norms about technology for education, and intention are the most promising levers to improve access and use of educational material.

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This study explored the learning experiences of girls in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) areas of Kenya during school closures due to Covid-19. Specifically, the study explored the  impact of reading camps, radio lessons,
and paper-based resources individually and when used in combination.

A mixed-methods approach was adopted involving a survey and reading and mathematics assessments of 640 girls in Turkana, Kilifi, Tana River, and Samburu.

Interviews and focus groups were conducted with girls, caregivers, and community members in Tana River and Kilifi.

The reading camps were facilitated by remedial teachers contracted by Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu (WWW) programme with support from Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) as well as mentors, who were mainly pupils at secondary school or university level.

Results suggest that reading camps combined with paper-based learning resources had the greatest impact on learning. The median scores for girls that used both modalities were 8.3 percentage points higher for reading and 17.6 percentage points higher for mathematics compared to girls who accessed neither.

Radio lessons were not associated with higher performance in reading and mathematics, except where girls listened to the radio in groups. Qualitative data suggests that barriers to listening to radio lessons, even when girls have radios in their households, may have contributed to the limited impact of radio lessons. Reading camps were found to have mitigated against the constraints of some girls not living with literate household members. The peer-learning element of the reading camps was also a motivating factor that provided structure to girls’ days through periods of prolonged school closures.

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The EdTech Hub is a global non-profit research partnership
Our goal is to empower the people making decisions about technology in education.

This Rapid Evidence Review (RER) provides an overview of the existing literature on the use of technology in supporting girls’ education in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The RER has been produced in response to the novel 2019 coronavirus (Covid-19), and the resulting widespread global shutdown of schools. It therefore has an emphasis on transferable insights that may be applicable to educational responses resulting from the limitations to the continuation of schooling caused by Covid-19. Established approaches to maintaining continuity of education for the most marginalised have particular salience during this period because of the significant increase in the number of students at risk of disruption. Research consistently shows that while education across the board is negatively affected by crisis situations, the schooling of girls is disproportionately impacted. The RER aims neither to advocate nor discourage the use of technology in girls’ education in response to the present Covid-19 pandemic, but rather to provide an accessible summary of existing evidence on the topic so that educators, policy makers and donors might make informed decisions about the potential role of technology in delivering education for girls.

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The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted school closures, which affected nearly 1.5 billion learners globally. Girls are likely to have experienced learning losses during the pandemic to a greater extent, as there are multiple barriers that influence gender disparities in accessing and benefiting from EdTech, including social inequalities or norms and technological constraints. Equity needs to be foregrounded when EdTech interventions are implemented, by considering disparities emerging from digital access, freedom, literacy, pedagogies, and design.

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Helpdesk Responses

EdTech Hub participated in a Girls’ Education Challenge webinar in May 2020, which welcomed stakeholders from countries including the UK, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Nepal. The session focused on issues regarding gender and social inclusion during the Covid-19 crisis. This document provides answers to a list of 10 questions received from stakeholders.

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