By Winny Cherotich, Program Officer, Network Building, PAL Network Secretariat

The fifth Steering Committee meeting of the People’s Action for Learning Network (PAL Network) was held in Nairobi Kenya, on 24th and 25th August 2017. The meeting convened nine committee members from three continents, together with the PAL Network Secretariat. The Steering Committee discussed the network’s progress during 2017, highlighting:

  • A network-wide agreement on the creation of a Data Quality Standards Framework, drafted during a workshop in January with subsequent research completed in partnership with The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER);
  • The largest convening of citizen-led assessment countries to-date, at the PAL Network’s 5th Annual Meeting held in March in Xalapa, Mexico;
  • PAL Network’s communication and advocacy efforts through the website, newsletter, social media accounts and regular presentation in international meetings such as: Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), UK Forum for International Education and Training (UKFIET), the Education Research Initiative, the Education Commission, the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) and the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM-R)

The meeting also provided an opportunity for working group Chairs to update the Steering Committee on their current work and present ideas for approval. Key highlights from the working groups included:

  • The organization of an upcoming learning visit to Pratham’s Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) program in November in partnership with the Assessment to Action Working Group;
  • The organization of a test development workshop is scheduled for the last week of November 2017 in Lagos, Nigeria by the Test Development Working Group;
  • The launch of the PAL Research Fellowship Program 2018, as well as the publication of two 4-pager information briefs providing new analysis from PAL data
  • The organization of a second data workshop in January 2018 for network members to co-create an implementation plan for the Data Quality Standards Framework, organized by the Data and Design Working Group.

As the PAL Network continues to grow (from 9 countries in 2015 to 14 in 2017) regional hubs have emerged, united by language and bound together by geography. The 4th Steering Committee meeting[1] endorsed the formation of regional hubs comprising of South Asia, Latin America, West and Central Africa and East and Southern Africa. The regional hubs will create opportunity for countries to take advantage of the existing regional, socio-political-economic communities such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in South Asia, the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in West Africa to foster common interests.

The first regional hub meeting was held in India on the 7th and 8th of August, bringing together PAL leaders from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, forming the South Asia hub. The team came up with ideas of working together as a region, supporting one another as members of the network and also support new countries willing to join the network as well as conducting advocacy work within the region.

Finally, the Steering committee began deliberations on the theme for the upcoming PAL research conference in 2019, which will seek to show-case new research using citizen-led assessment data. The conference will attract participants both from within and outside the network. As the meeting came to a close, the Steering Committee and the Secretariat were pleased with the progress made across the network, particularly through the enthusiasm and active engagement of the newly constituted working groups. The future looks bright for the PAL Network as we continue to build on the foundations of work completed in 2017 to continue strengthening the network and advocating for the important role that citizen-led assessment data plays globally.

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[1] Held in Mexico on 10th and 11th March 2017