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Cirenia Chavez

Consultant (Former title)

Cirenia joined Innocenti in October 2017 to support research related to adolescence, humanitarian settings and other emerging areas. She is a mixed-methods researcher, and has carried out extensive work on the subject of youth and organised crime in Mexico. Her research interests include adolescent well-being and capabilities, multidimensional poverty and their contribution to youth participation in risky behaviours. She has a PhD in Development Studies (University of Cambridge) and a background in International Relations (M.A. New York University, B.A. Tecnologico de Monterrey). She was the recipient of numerous scholarships, including Cambridge Trust, Conacyt and Fulbright. She has previously worked as a research assistant and consultant for development organisations, including the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London and UNDP-Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean in New York. She has also engaged in teaching activities in the master’s programme at the Centre of Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge. (picture attached)

Publications

Bringing Education to the Most Marginalized Girls in Nepal: Evidence from the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) programme Let Us Learn: Nepal research brief
Publication Publication

Bringing Education to the Most Marginalized Girls in Nepal: Evidence from the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) programme Let Us Learn: Nepal research brief

This research brief provides a snapshot of Girls’ Access To Education (GATE), a non-formal education programme that aims to bring the most marginalized adolescent girls in Nepal into school. The nine-month programme provides out-of-school girls with the basic literacy, numeracy and life skills they need to enter and learn in formal schooling. The analysis draws on GATE monitoring data for 2018/19, covering 7,394 GATE beneficiaries in five districts of Nepal, and is combined with qualitative evidence including case studies and focus group discussions with former GATE participants conducted in 2019. The mixed-methods analysis finds that the GATE programme has been highly effective, with 95% completion of the programme by enrolled girls and 89% of girls making the successful transition to formal school. Moreover, GATE graduates enrolled in Grades 3 to 5 in formal schools outperformed non-GATE girls enrolled in the same grades, even though GATE girls overwhelmingly had no prior formal school experience. Qualitative evidence reveals that poverty, caring responsibilities and parents’ traditional views may be important factors in explaining why GATE girls had never previously attended school. Despite this, GATE beneficiaries who were interviewed maintain a positive outlook on the future and have clear career goals. One of the recommendations stemming from this brief is to explore the feasibility of expanding GATE approaches to target out-of-school children in other contexts, as GATE has been a cost-effective solution in the context of Nepal.
The Long-term Effect of Humanitarian Emergencies on Adolescents: Existing evidence, gaps and considerations for research and practitioners
Publication Publication

The Long-term Effect of Humanitarian Emergencies on Adolescents: Existing evidence, gaps and considerations for research and practitioners

This short paper grew out of discussions at a two-day research workshop focused on famines and adolescents. It explores some of what we do and do not know about the impacts of humanitarian situations on adolescents’ lives. Adolescents and their specific capacities and vulnerabilities have tended to be overlooked in the design and implementation of humanitarian responses, including in social protection and further components of such responses. This paper seeks to bring these questions to the attention of researchers, policy makers and practitioners in order to address identified priority gaps; build on existing knowledge; invest in better evidence generation; and include adolescents in research and response efforts in meaningful ways. Such improvements to humanitarian responses would assist in developing more inclusive efforts that consider all ages in the child’s life-course; aim for more sustainable well-being outcomes and help meet core commitments to children in these settings.

Blogs

Promising Futures: Vocational training programme in rural Bangladesh
Blog Blog

Promising Futures: Vocational training programme in rural Bangladesh

In a town in the rural Sumanganj District of Bangladesh, we met recent graduates of  Alternative Learning Pathways, a Let Us Learn-supported programme implemented in partnership with Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. The project targets adolescents aged 14 to 18 who have dropped out of school and are mostly unemployed or out-of-school. Alternative Learning Pathways provides them with vocational training in trades for which there is market demand in the community. In the Sumangani District, these trades included tailoring and dress making (the most popular), wood furniture design, IT support technician, mobile phone servicing, and beauty salon (for girls exclusively), amongst others (see Figure 1).
Bright Beginnings: Community-Based Early Childhood Education in Rural Bangladesh
Blog Blog

Bright Beginnings: Community-Based Early Childhood Education in Rural Bangladesh

According to the most recent census, around half of the population in Bangladesh’s Sunamganj District lives below the poverty line. Monsoon flooding in the district perennially cuts villages off from one another and makes access to schools difficult. We drive past bustling markets and vast stretches of rice fields, arriving in a sparsely populated village on the banks of the Shurma river. Welcomed by members of the community, we take off our shoes to pay a visit to a new community pre-primary education center established by Let Us Learn in partnership with Dhaka Ahsania Mission.
How prepared are global education systems for future crises?
Blog Blog

How prepared are global education systems for future crises?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an education emergency of unprecedented global scale. At its peak, over 190 countries closed schools in response to the health emergency, leaving 9 out of 10 enrolled learners around the world out of school. Although previous health emergencies – such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016 – have caused short- and long-term school closures in several countries, the COVID-19 crisis has caught most of the world’s education systems unprepared. As a result, countries have been scrambling to implement immediate, wide-scale distance learning for the first time. 
What we know and what we don't know about youth gangs in Latin America
Blog Blog

What we know and what we don't know about youth gangs in Latin America

Gang violence in Latin America has become one of the central security concerns in some countries of the region, including the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America and more recently, Mexico. Gang members tend to join these identity-shaping groups during early adolescence, which has contributed to the continued stigmatization of this population group.