Human Development


RESEARCH // WHAT WE DO // Human Development

Human Development

Focuses on generating evidence to promote stronger, more inclusive policies and practices for early childhood development, education and youth empowerment systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), in the context of growing inequalities, and emerging challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.


In the stream of work on Education and Technology, we seek to understand how African countries can leverage technology to solve existing and emerging educational challenges. 

Education and Youth Empowerment (EYE) – The perspectives of equity, inclusion, and opportunities are the guiding principles for our work in EYE. 

Early Childhood Development (ECD) – Our focus is on informing the integration of ECD into the health care system.

Areas of Focus:

Inclusive Quality Education: is focused on understanding how to make education systems responsive to the learning needs of children and youth from diverse backgrounds. This involves addressing issues of quality, equity, and equality in education across various dimensions such as education in emergencies, special needs education, urban education, out-of-school children and youth, teaching effectiveness, learning outcomes and assessment, foundational skills, children farthest left behind in schooling opportunities, and building education system resilience during and after emergencies (such as COVID-19).

Gender and Education: examines how education systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) respond to gender disparities and needs in education. This includes addressing issues of gender equity and equality, girls, and women’s education, including in STEM, sexuality education, and adolescent schooling, and policies and practices that promote gender equality, gender-friendly schools and curriculum, and engendered-teacher development programs, among others.

Youth and Transition to Work: Investigates pathways to the world of work among young people in SSA. This includes addressing issues of positive youth development, youth empowerment and skills development, skills-building and training systems and the future of work, apprenticeship programs for young people, and demand-driven training for the future of work.

Education and Technology: Understanding how countries in SSA could leverage education technology to solve existing and emerging educational challenges. This will include, but not be limited to, addressing EdTech in contemporary learning spaces, the future of physical classrooms, the digital divide, EdTech, and emergencies (e.g., COVID-19), virtual learning technology, innovative pedagogies, curriculum alignment to technology, and student learning.

Higher Education Research: Understanding the impact and value of existing research capacity initiatives and what works to make higher education systems relevant and sustainable in Africa; STEM and national development goals, including 21st-century skills.

 Childcare Patterns: We work on establishing ways to promote quality childcare, especially for the urban poor, and establish the impact of quality childcare on children’s developmental outcomes. Our work will also operationalize and prioritize the components of the NCF that heighten child development, particularly among vulnerable children. Under this program, our work will also examine gender roles in childcare, focusing on unpaid care work and its effect on women’s economic empowerment.

Integration of ECD into the health care system: Solidify our focus on informing the integration of ECD into the health care system.

Early care and education (ECE): Establish how to support young children and their families from the prenatal period through the middle school period at age 8. We will use an approach that promotes equitable access to a high-quality early childhood experience and consider ways to enhance school readiness as children enter the schooling system at age 4 to ensure schooling success.