E-Cubed Funded Projects

The E-Cubed Research Envelope aims to strengthen the evidence base in EiE, by supporting contextually relevant and usable research, and disseminating global public goods.

Below is an overview of the research projects selected for funding in the first four rounds of E-Cubed. As research outcomes and products become available, INEE will disseminate and curate resources with the aim that evidence produced through this fund is shared widely to inform policy and practice.

View the 2020 Virtual CIES Webinar for emerging outputs from the E-Cubed Research Fund. 

2020 E-Cubed Grantees

Submission period: May - August, 2020 

  • The top three thematic areas identified in proposals were COVID-19, Learning Outcomes, and Technology and Innovation. 
  • The percentage of proposals proposed by people or institutions from within crisis-affected contexts increased from 33% in 2019 to 48% in 2020.

The 2020 Call for Proposals was unique in that it fell within the context of COVID-19. Launched at the height of school closures, the need for evidence - particularly evidence related to COVID-19 - was immense. This is demonstrated by the high volume of submissions, the substantial focus of submissions on COVID-19 and COVID-19 related thematics (Learning Outcomes and Technology and Innovation), and the proliferation of proposals focused on contexts that would not traditionally be considered EiE. 

The 2020 (Round 4) call for E-Cubed proposals prompted 173 submissions ranging in context, methodology and thematic focus. After a careful selection process, Dubai Cares chose the  following two research projects worth a total of USD 1.5 million.


Crisis Management for Disaster Risk Reduction in Education Systems: Learning from the Elaboration and Integration of Technology-Focused Strategies in El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia

University of Hawaii, Manoa; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Texas, Austin; University of Girona; Central American University (El Salvador); National Pedagogical University (Honduras); University of the Andes (Colombia)

What: This three-year project will produce comparative lessons and actionable resources (i.e., an assessment framework, practitioner guidelines, and technical notes) related to how decentralized education systems can achieve disaster risk reduction through technologically-focused crisis management strategies. These resources will be developed by learning from the experiences of El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia—each of which, first, represents a different-yet-common form of educational decentralization and, second, has made distance learning technologies the centerpiece of their educational response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Why: Independently, the themes at the heart of this research—i.e., crisis management, disaster risk reduction, educational decentralization, and technology incorporation—have received substantive attention. However, both academic and practitioner-oriented literature fail to make connections across them. Given that most, if not all, education systems around the world depend on some level of decentralization (whether administrative, financial, etc.), it is essential, first, that scholars and key stakeholders understand how decentralized education systems are responding to the current crisis and, second, that lessons be learned that can inform how these systems can prepare for future crises—both natural and man-made.

How: This project builds on previous research conducted by team members in each of the three study countries related to educational decentralization and administration. In so doing, it draws on approaches grounded in policy sociology, systems thinking, and technology integration to reveal how crisis management responses have been formulated and enacted at and across each level of the education system—and with what consequences for families, schools, and communities.



Tich mi ar tich dem — The impact of a scalable, distributed, school-based, crisis-enabled open teacher professional development programme on student learning outcomes in Sierra Leone

Open Development & Education, Science Resources Africa, Institute of Management (Calcutta) & Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (Sierra Leone)

What: This two-year study investigates the impact of a school-based teacher professional development (TPD) programme in Sierra Leone. The study identifies the programme components that make the most significant contribution to learning and determine the programme’s impact on learning outcomes at scale.

Why: Sierra Leone is recovering from multiple shocks: civil war, the Ebola crisis, landslides, an increase in student enrollment and the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergencies have exacerbated the country’s learning crisis and increased the pressure on teachers to provide students with educational and socio-emotional support. Yet, previous TPD programmes have been one-off, uncoordinated and hosted in a central venue. As such, many teachers — and especially those in remote areas — remain underqualified, undersupported, and unreached. Our research supports the government to identify an alternative way to effectively deliver in-service TPD at scale.

How: This sequential, mixed-methods research consists of two phases involving 150 government primary schools. In the first phase, the researchers use design-based implementation research to understand the extent to which different programme components contribute to learning gains. The results of this phase are used to optimise the design of the TPD programme. In the second phase, the researchers use a cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the programme’s impact at scale. The study focuses on teacher performance, foundational learning outcomes, and socio-emotional outcomes.


2019 E-Cubed Grantees

Submission period: May - August, 2019 

  • The top three thematic areas identified in proposals were Teacher Capacity Development and Training, Adolescents and Youth, and Learning Outcomes. 
  • The percentage of joint applications between national partners and entities remote to the research context increased by 19% from round 2 in 2018.

The 2019 (Round 3) call for E-Cubed proposals prompted 63 submissions ranging in context, methodology and thematic focus. After a careful selection process, Dubai Cares chose the following four research projects worth a total of USD 2.1 million. Please see the announcement from Dubai Cares.


Participatory Research on Education and Agency in Mali (PREAM)

Plan International Canada and McGill University

What: An investigation of the relationship between girls’ agency and their participation in education in conflict-affected regions of Mopti and Ségou, Mali. The three-year research project will provide evidence of the nature of the interaction between gender barriers to education, increased individual and collective agency, and education outcomes. 

Why: Periods of crisis exacerbate gender inequalities and barriers to education. Conversely, participation in education can reduce the prevalence of gender inequalities in similar contexts. Individual and collective agency, along with supportive families and communities, is crucial for girls’ access to and promotion through education, especially in conflict contexts. However, the nature of the interaction between gender, agency, and education in crisis settings is far from clear.  

How: The participatory mixed methods approach uses a combination of participatory visual methods and a survey of in- and out-of-school girls and boys (ages 12-17) to analyze the relationship between complex, perception-based attitudinal and behavioural norms (gender and agency) and experiential actions (participation in education). The research will develop a conceptual framework for evaluating the intersections of gender, agency, and education in conflict-affected contexts, with input from adolescent participants in Mali. The project will inform the work of education, development, and humanitarian stakeholders, and also enhance the capacity of adolescent girls and boys to inform community dialogue around issues of education, agency, and gender equality.


Educational Decision-Making in the Aftermath of a Disaster: Evidence from Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

University of Michigan

What: This three-year project seeks to answer questions such as how disasters affect educational decision-making, and whether community-based development programs can shield households from the negative consequences of disasters. 

Why: While conducting a randomized controlled trial of an education and health program in Mozambique, Força à Comunidade e Crianças (FCC, “Strengthening Communities and Children”), the areas of focus in this study were struck by Cyclone Idai, the most destructive cyclone ever recorded in Africa. This study therefore aims to understand how exposure to the cyclone changed educational decisions (e.g., school enrollment and attendance), how changes in economic preference parameters mediate these effects, and the protective role of community-based education and health interventions.

How: Researchers will conduct intensive current follow-up surveys of study households to understand short- and medium-term disaster impacts, disaster-induced changes in preferences (e.g., present bias, risk aversion), and whether the FCC program improves post-disaster resilience.


Out-of-School Refugee Youth in Ethiopia: An Analysis of the Barriers and Drivers of Primary School Participation Among Vulnerable Populations

World Education, Inc

What: An 18-month study on primary school enrollment among Somali, Sudanese, South Sudanese and Eritrean refugees ranging from 7 to 14 years old within Ethiopia.

Why: Refugees will be added to Ethiopia’s education strategy, the General Education Quality Improvement Programme for Equity (GEQIP-E), as a priority group this year. Ethiopia hosts over 1 million refugees from Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Eritrea. Refugee children attend UNHCR-funded schools inside refugee camps operated by the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) where only 20-30 percent of eligible children are enrolled in school.

How: The study will focus on key drivers and barriers to enrollment, participation, retention and transition among refugee children. New data evidence will be generated and presented with disaggregated thematic analyses of country of origin, ethnicity, gender, and disability status. Additionally, the study aims to produce relevant policy guidance to strengthen primary school enrollment, participation, and retention


Education for Transitional Justice, Reconciliation, and Peacebuilding: the Case of Colombia

Teachers College, Columbia University

What: This three-year project explores the case of Colombia, which signed a peace agreement in 2016 after more than five decades of armed conflict and massive internal displacement, to analyze how transitional justice processes are incorporated within the education system. 

Why: Despite the globally promoted idea of transitional justice as a solution to past conflict, little is known about how transitional justice processes are incorporated within the education sector and how the material generated from transitional justice processes is used for broader pedagogical purposes. Only in recent years have scholars begun to examine the crucial function that education systems can play in the aftermath of a violent conflict to address broader structural inequalities and discrimination linked to underlying causes of a country’s conflict.

How: Through an analysis of survey, interview, and observation data collected in diverse secondary schools across three regions, the research seeks to answer the following questions: To what extent is content on transitional justice implemented in educational institutions? How do teachers and students understand and engage with concepts related to transitional justice and peacebuilding? Understanding how the transitional justice process is incorporated into the education sector and classroom has important implications for promoting long-term sustainable peace and social cohesion in post-conflict contexts.


2018 Call for Proposals - Round 2

Submission period: June - August, 2018  

  • The top three thematic areas identified in proposals were Psychosocial Support and Social and Emotional Learning, Adolescents and Youth, and Gender. 
  • The percentage of joint applications between national partners and entities remote to the research context increased to 10%. 

The 2018 (Round 2) call for proposals, prompted 69 submissions. After a careful selection process, Dubai Cares chose the following four research projects worth a total of USD 2.1 million. Please see the announcement from Dubai Cares on the second round of research investments. 


Teachers, Schools and Communities: A framework for improving basic education in gang-controlled territories

Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas / Central American University, El Salvador

What: This research project in El Salvador explores the role that local social relationships, i.e. the educational community, can play in creating a positive school environment and achieving quality education in situations where gang presence and insecurity are everyday concerns. The expected result is a framework for school policies and interventions that takes into account these influences.

Why: In El Salvador the complicated relationship of gangs, schools and the educational community has only been acknowledged recently. Even though schools typically are expected to prevent violence and gang involvement and foster positive social cohesion, they cannot always deliver. 

How: The research sample focuses on schools, who in adverse contexts, with or without external support, achieve good outcomes. The methodology consists of systematic observations, in-depth interviews, and possibly focus groups with students, teachers, principals, community actors and external stakeholders.


How does participation in a non-formal accelerated education program shape adolescents’ trajectories and outcomes in Northeast Nigeria?

FHI 360 in partnership with University of Maiduguri

What: In this two-year project, the research team is undertaking experimental mixed-methods research to examine how non-formal accelerated education participation may, over time, impact female and male adolescents’ growth trajectories in social-emotional skills, learning outcomes, workforce participation, sexual and reproductive health, educational participation, and sense of agency.

Why: There are very few opportunities to evaluate the longitudinal impact of accelerated education interventions in a humanitarian crisis context like Northeast Nigeria, but the need for rigorous research on how these interventions shape children’s lives over time is enormous.

How: The experimental research design features repeated structured interviews every three months with a representative longitudinal sample of 220 accelerated education participants (treatment group) and 220 comparable non-participants (control group), over the course of two years, both during and after their participation in the accelerated education program. With a smaller sub-sample, we will use qualitative methods to gain rich narrative insight into how accelerated education participation shapes adolescent’s lives, decision-making and sense of agency.

Find out more, here


Promising policies for the effective management of teachers in refugee contexts: Understanding policy and practice

UNESCO IIEP in partnership with Education Development Trust (EDT)

What: This study on the management of teachers in refugee contexts aims to identify effective policies and practices for the management of teachers in refugee contexts and to put forward policy guidance. Research will take place in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. 

Why: The New York Declaration on Refugees, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), and the Global Compact for Refugees provide a framework for predictable, equitable responses to the global refugee crisis. Furthermore, the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has identified a number of actions needed to deliver durable solutions for refugees and host communities. However, the implications of these international and regional commitments on teachers in refugee contexts are not well understood.

How: The research methodology includes policy document analysis; a teacher survey; analysis of existing datasets, including education management information system (EMIS) data; semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions at the national, regional, district, and school level. Preliminary analysis and findings are shared and discussed with key stakeholders throughout the research process and used to inform results and recommendations.


Understanding Children’s Holistic Development, Program Implementation and Effectiveness in Context: Evidence to Guide Investments in Social Emotional Learning

NYU Global TIES for Children (TIES/NYU)

What: In this two-year project, TIES/NYU aims to generate, collectively interpret, and clearly communicate evidence about the implementation of SEL strategies and children’s academic, cognitive, and social-emotional development in three humanitarian contexts: Lebanon (with Syrian refugee children), Niger (with children affected by Boko Haram), and Sierra Leone.

Why: TIES/NYU hopes to inform the design of culturally grounded SEL programs that are more impactful, easily implemented, and targeted than prevailing methods. 

How: To achieve this goal, TIES/NYU will conduct secondary analysis of unique, large-scale datasets containing detailed information on children’s holistic learning and development and program implementation quality in these three contexts; currently, the quantitative datasets are being prepared for longitudinal analysis and video clips of classrooms are being coded to assess the quality of implementation.

Research outputs: Relationship Between Post-Migration Risks And Holistic Learning Among Syrian Refugee Children In Lebanon, Research explainer video, UKFIET blog 


2017 Call for Proposals - Round 1

Submission period: September - November, 2017  

  • The top three thematic areas identified in proposals were Adolescents and Youth, Teacher Capacity Development and Training, and Gender. 
  • 46% of proposals came from organizations based within the research context while only 1% highlighted a partnership between a national partner and entity remote to the research context. 

The 2017 (Round 1) call for proposals prompted 86 submissions. After a careful selection process, Dubai Cares chose the following four research projects worth a total of USD 2.8 million. Please see the announcement from Dubai Cares on the first round of research investments.

Promising Partnership Models for Education in Emergencies: A Global-Local Analysis

Institute for International and Comparative Education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in collaboration with the Center for Lebanese Studies at the Lebanese American University, Beirut

What: This two-year research project examines the nature and impacts of partnerships--at the global and local levels--in education in emergencies, with a focus on education for Syria refugees.

Why: This research seeks to inform partnership practices in education in emergencies by gaining a deep understanding of the ways in which partnerships have contributed to refugee education. A key objective of the study is to develop a set of guiding principles and partnership models that promote coordination and community participation in refugee education.

How: The study employs a two-year iterative vertical case study design to produce a robust evidence base from qualitative, quantitative, and longitudinal data. Data includes key informant interviews with global policy actors, a network analysis of organizational entities engaged in the response, and ethnographic case studies of partnerships operating within Lebanon to serve refugee populations.


Education and Displacement: An impact-evaluation of an Accelerated Education Program for Refugees in Uganda

Norwegian Refugee Council in partnership with Peace Research Institute Oslo

What: This research, which will extend five years, investigates the effects of NRC’s AE programs on outcomes of education access and quality for displaced and disadvantaged youth. 

Why: AEPs are a common response in crisis settings. However, there is a lack of rigorous, systematic evidence regarding their ability to improve education access, quality, and inclusion, and to reduce educational inequities between groups. Increasing the evidence about the effect of AEPs is of significance importance to funders, implementing partners, and ultimately to the learners themselves.

How: This project consists of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of NRC’s Accelerated Education Program (AEP) in Northern Uganda. RCTs have the advantage that effects found can confidently be attributed to the intervention and not to other factors.

Research outputs: Data Report - Refugee Status, Gender, and Learning 

*This research program underwent a piloting phase and baseline rollout after which it was clear that the research design was no longer feasible. The research has therefore evolved into a new project on Accelerated Education, in alignment with the Accelerated Education Working Group's (AEWG) Learning Agenda, and under the leadership of University of Auckland in collaboration with AEWG. The new project was launched in 2021 and is presented below.


Accelerating Children’s Education through Systems Strengthening (ACCESS)

University of Auckland and Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG)

What: This 44-month project critically assesses current opportunities for, and approaches towards, integrating and sustaining non-formal education (NFE) programming, and particularly Accelerated Education Programmes (AEPs) in Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Jordan.   

Why:  While AEPs have demonstrated success in providing relevant, age-appropriate, and accredited education for millions of out-of-school children and youth, they often remain on the margins of national education systems.  At present, the AEWG seeks to understand who needs to be involved, when and why as part of the inter-agency groups’ efforts to build alliances, and advocate for policy change in countries where there is a critical need to improve opportunities and outcomes for AE learners.  

How: The research will be conducted in two stages.  The first stage uses an applied, critical political economy framework to identify current political commitment, capacity and will for integrating AEPs into the above countries’ national education systems and reasons why this is the case.   Based on this, the second stage will use participatory action research with key stakeholders involved in the delivery, funding and/or regulation of AEPs in three of the five countries to document the processes and outcomes of their efforts to catalyse systemic change for out-of-school children and youth.

Find out more, here


Sector-Wide Early Childhood Education in Emergencies (ECEiE) Assessment: Identifying Trends and Strategies to Strengthen Access, Equity and Quality of ECEiE

Yale University

What: This two-year project focuses on conducting an analysis of current global policies and programs that provide early childhood education services to children, with emphasis on development and education, in emergency settings. 

Why: Despite compelling evidence on the benefits of education in conflict and disaster-affected contexts, particularly for young children living in adversity, ECEiE continues to be underfunded. There is a need to inform how key global agencies and partners, including donors, set programmatic priorities in the humanitarian relief context and characterize the sector to generate a set of evidence-based policy, program and advocacy options. 

How: The project combines multiple methodologies, including a systematic review of the academic and gray literature; an online survey and 4 country cases studies to explore on the ground practices in the context of ECE; and the development and field-testing of a social network analysis to empirically to inform concrete strategies to improve coordination and operations in the context of ECEiE.

Research outputs: Sector-wide analysis of early childhood development and education in emergencies in Colombia and considerations to strengthen systems globally 


Voices of Refugee Youth: The Impact of Post-primary Education in Emergencies

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Jigsaw Consult

What: This three-year research provides a participatory and youth-centered approach to studying the impact of post-primary education for refugees in Pakistan and Rwanda.

Why: The purpose of the study is to make a significant contribution to the evidence base regarding post-primary refugee education, with a particular focus on what happens at the point of transition out of education, and the impact that education has on employability.

How: The study is based on an innovative youth-centered methodological design. Teams of refugee youth researchers are trained in social science research methods to collect data as core contributors to the research study. The research has four data points and tracks refugee youth in Pakistan and Rwanda across a two-year period. A mixed-method approach is being applied and this includes a large multi-point survey as well as focus groups and key informant interviews.

Find out more, here

For questions related to E-Cubed, please contact INEE Evidence Coordinator, Sonja Anderson sonja.anderson@inee.org