J-PAL Africa @ 10
Remarks from friends
Celebratory remarks and testimonials from partners, staff members, and alumni from the past ten years. Have you partnered with J-PAL before, attended one of our events, or are you a J-PAL alum? Please share your thoughts here!
Research staff and partners
"NO WAY!!!!! 10 years! Where has the time gone! This is very special. I love working with J-PAL and trying to navigate the challenges that it throws my way. Never a dull moment. Well done to such a fabulously performance-driven team! With equally fabulous people who are committed to their cause! May the next 10 years yield even more successes!"
—Rushda Alawie, Human Resources Business Partner for the University of Cape Town's Faculty of Commerce
Noam Angrist, founder of Young1ove, speaks about his experience working with J-PAL Africa, in celebration of their ten year anniversary:
"J-PAL Africa is a fantastic partner for research in South Africa, for me and many other academics. J-PAL Africa combines superb staff with impressive institutional knowledge. This brings expertise to every stage of the research process, from research design and fundraising, through project implementation and data collection, to analysis and dissemination. It's difficult (and terrifying!) to imagine running field experiments in South Africa without J-PAL Africa. Happy 10th birthday J-PAL Africa!"
—Robert Garlick, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Duke University
"It was evident from the persistent poor assessment results that Zambia’s education results were on the decline and something urgently was needed to halt the decline. The Ministry became attentive to the lack of basic numeracy and literacy skills among early graders for them to be able to read and do numeracy. The Minister of General Education demanded action, and schools were directed to come up with Catch Up strategies to help bridge the noted gap.
These measures were not systematic and hence difficult to measure achievement. From nowhere—bingo! Here comes J-PAL with models that have been proven elsewhere. We took a look and were fascinated with the Teaching at The Right Level (TaRL) model. This model would work well as a continuation of the Literacy and Numeracy emphasis contained in the newly revised National Curriculum Frame work. How was it done? J-PAL, working with an Indian organization, Pratham, provided the pathway and training to our officers that would guide the implementation.
In January/February 2015 we held Implementation Design workshops in provinces and developed monitoring tools. Then, the big day came for launch at Chiyobola school. What a week! Everyone was excited with what they saw happening in the classrooms. Teachers at the school, learners, and parents all did not want to miss the event that was attracting so much attention.
Parents came with counters in the form of stones and twigs for their children, and learners who were left out from assessment wanted to be included. Older parents said that the games done in numeracy and literacy reminded them of their school attendance and learning in those old days. Other teachers also loved the different activities used and wished to copy them. As for Ministry officials there was a lot of excitement on the use of the model. This, they believed was going to change the lives of many of our children.
The Chiyobola scenario became the order of the day in all the 80 schools of the pilot in the 4 districts of southern and eastern provinces. When the endline results were given, there was no doubt of what this systematic model was achieving, and the end result is that we are continuing to expand this program in Zambia and happy to see other African countries that have come on board."
—Mr Mahuba Hazemba, formerly of the Ministry of General Education, Government of Zambia
"In 2014, Professor Justine Burns and I came across an exciting hygiene intervention – Hope Soap, a colourful, translucent bar of soap with a toy embedded in its centre – that had promise of improving handwashing and health outcomes among children. We wanted to conduct a pilot impact evaluation of Hope Soap within a year, but did not have access to short-term funding and did not have the capacity ourselves to drive all aspects of the research design and implementation. J-PAL Africa provided the solution to both these problems. We were awarded seed funding from the J-PAL Africa Project Incubation Fund, and J-PAL Africa provided incredible study design and in-field support. By the end of 2014, we successfully completed our study with 287 young children in a resource-poor community in Cape Town (see article for details). I am uncertain whether our study would have gotten off the ground without support from J-PAL Africa, but I have no doubt that the incredibly high quality of our research data was thanks to the J-PAL Africa team. Furthermore, the project was fun as the team was a delight to work with. It is wonderful to be part of the J-PAL Africa team now and I look forward to conducting many more RCTs with J-PAL Africa."
—Brendan Maughan-Brown, Research Advisor for J-PAL Africa and Chief Research Officer of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit
Moitshepi Matsheng, Co-Founder and Country Coordinator for Botswana at Young1ove, speaks about her experience working with J-PAL Africa, in celebration of their ten year anniversary.
Rob Urquhart, impact and research lead at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, speaks about his experience working with J-PAL Africa, in celebration of their ten year anniversary:
"I would like to thank you for all the trust you and J-PAL Africa have put into VVOB and myself. For me, this has been one of the very best rollercoasters of my life. When I jumped on, I never ever realized that we would be standing where we are standing now. Through the nearly daily interaction with J-PAL Africa (and TaRL Africa), I have grown as a person. VVOB has grown as an organization. You might be aware that we have invented the word "CatchUpify" to talk about the impact of Catch Up on our other projects? I wish you could be here so that I can invite you home to have a delicious meal and a toast to all that we have realized so far and to all that lies ahead. Congrats to the J-PAL Africa team."
—Nico Vromant, Programme manager for VVOB Zambia
"We wish the Jameel Poverty Action Lab every success, not merely as a gesture of good will but because its output is sorely needed for evidence-based policy making. We hope that you demonstrate the advantages of good quality research and its impact on policy making across our country and you use this base to strengthen the capacity of researchers in South Africa and Africa."
—Trevor Manuel, Former Minister in the Presidency of South Africa
Dr Max Price
"We are privileged to have been given the opportunity to host the African node of J-PAL because it speaks directly to two of our strategic goals – to increase the quality and impact of research as well as to establish UCT as a hub of academic activity between Africa and the rest of the world."
—Dr Max Price, Former Vice Chancellor of University of Cape Town