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Session Submission Type: Group Panel
1. A clear statement of the objectives or purposes of your work as related to the symposium theme and/or comparative and international education/conference theme and/or SIG
REACH was first introduced at CIES 2016. It is designed to empower schools through better information about cross-sectoral problems and inequalities in a school (management, nutrition, sanitation, student health, classroom performance) in a mobile, tablet based, solar powered system. REACH includes both visualization for schools, but an index to possible improvements. It also communicates summaries to upper administrative levels. Using advanced techniques, the REACH technology digitizes reporting from even the poorest schools, and highlights inequalities in both education resources (across sectors) and educational performance. This panel updates CIES on new findings from multiple countries, and findings on techniques for REACH’s use at both school and other levels.
2. The perspective(s) or theoretical framework employed
In education, the REACH system uses the findings and approaches from Stalling’s work on classroom behavior. In sanitation, it is based on key findings from a decade of WASH work, and for nutrition and overall health, it is based on FHI360 cross-disciplinary work related to student health and nutrition projects. The approach has been piloted, in six countries, Rwanda, Haiti, Nepal, Cambodia, Ghana, and Indonesia. REACH is based on research that indicates, particularly in the context of inequality, that attendance changes learning outcomes—and that the poorer the country environment, the more school attendance impacts possibilities for learning.
3. Research methods or modes of inquiry (including data sources, evidence, objects and/or materials)
Data sources include evaluating 2,400 articles on education with some relation to health, WASH, or nutrition activities during REACH’s first year. REACH also incorporates data on use of Tablets in client/server mode, communication via SMS, development of Tablets as communication servers, and integration of very low technology “footprint” into existing government systems. The work has involved developing approaches to data security, country regulations regarding privacy, adaptation to the mobile provider network options, and establishment of policy frameworks the encourage more active attention to learning outcomes.
4. Results, substantiated conclusions, and/or the warrants for your arguments/point of view
Pilot efforts have shown that survey questions need to be limited (completed in one day), clear in country context, and with visualizations that are context sensitive. The work, using visual and accessible tools, also reinforces the need for social environment preparation—namely, the upgrading of communities’ ability to interpret, reflect, and then act upon findings that data visualizations provide. The latter is increasingly a human enterprise—involving the navigation among competing community priorities and levels of engagement in education. Additionally, early efforts show that the level of detail and “granular” comparisons, increase the credibility of data from schools at higher levels in the system. This credibility then assists forward thinking donors.
Other conclusions indicate factors such as teacher payment, availability of threshold nutrition, classroom management, and effective sanitation via reduced absenteeism, have significant effect on learning performance.
5. Scholarly significance, originality and/or creativity of the study or work
While interdisciplinary work has been studied and practiced for many decades, the ability to operationalize such work, given the sectoral nature of most giving, has been very difficult. More precise linking of health, nutrition, sanitation, in an education context from a research perspective has been very spotty. While each sector will often conduct research that has peripheral questions in related areas, clear links and simultaneous measurement in a school setting seldom happens. The REACH effort is pioneering in use of available research, mobile tools and approach.