Radhika Iyengar received a distinction from Teachers College, Columbia University on her dissertation Social capital as a determinant of schooling in rural India: A mixed methods study. Her dissertation uses econometric models and Hierarchical Linear Modeling approaches in the quantitative section, along with case study in the qualitative tradition. While the quantitative sections use nationally representative survey data, the qualitative data collection is based in one of India’s most marginalized districts, Jhabua (with an overall literacy rate of 37 percent), and attempts to observe how social capital plays out in this district in rural India which is dominated by “tribal” or indigenous populations. Her study is well received in India, parts of which were also printed in India’s daily newspapers. She has also presented her dissertation in various conferences like the Comparative International Education Society, and was awarded the New Scholars Fellowship-Comparative International Education Society for 2010.
Prior to her Ph.D. at Columbia University, she has a Masters degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, India. Her professional experience also includes working in an India based non-profit organization- Pratham, for multiple years. At Pratham, Radhika brought cutting edge research into operation in the program management and implementation areas. She also collaborated with researchers from Imperial College, London and University of California, Berkeley to design and implement a pivotal randomized experiment study on the impact of health interventions on cognitive and other educational outcomes of pre-schoolers in India. Radhika was also instrumental in collaborating with the Indian Government education officials to implement and monitor a remedial education program implemented by 150 government primary schools for reaching to 8,000 children. She also was responsible to manage a team of 30 full time activists, implementing an education program that directly reached out to 10,000 children. Her role required her to forge public-private partnership efforts towards school improvement broadened her understanding of the functioning of a large system. She continues to support NGOs in India by conducting technical capacity building workshops in India. She also serves on the Board of advisors of NGOs affiliated with the Government of India working towards rural educational literacy and women’s empowerment.
Along with a rich practical experience of six years, Radhika has also made a contribution to the scientific community focusing on international educational development. She has published numerous articles in reputed journals in her field and also has been referred to by others in her field. Her latest article “After the Smoke Clears: Towards Education for Sustainable Development in Bhopal, India, in the Comparative Education Review is well received by the scientific community and also has got the attention of the Government of India. Along with published articles, she has co-authored numerous reports that are being used by both domestic and international stakeholders. This also includes her work as a Research Fellow with the Assessment and Evaluation Research Initiative at Teachers College which is showcased on the University website. At Teachers College, she was also given the opportunity to teach a graduate level course on Evaluation Research Methods, which helped to sharpen her abilities both as a scholar and a teacher.
Radhika has been an active leader both at Teachers College, Columbia University and beyond. She took the initiative to organize a series of Lectures in International Development (LID) at the University. Given the overwhelming response to the lectures, she was able to establish DISHA (Development in South Asia), an active researchers-group based at Teachers College. DISHA has a membership of 170 members from South Asia and continues to invite scholars and practitioners to discuss relevant educational issues. Radhika was also elected as the Program Chair of the South Asia Special Interest Group (SIG) at the Comparative International Education Society (2011-2013). Her duties include selection of research papers for panels organized SIG and lead discussions at the yearly conference. She envisions the SIG of becoming a platform for exchanging ideas and collaborating with NGO’s and governments’ to fill the existing gaps in research, policy and practice.
In her role as an Education Specialist, Radhika was successful to work collaboratively with teams and handle multiple research responsibilities. Radhika was able to build successful partnerships with the Education Head at the MDG Office in Nigeria and effectively include their perspective in the planning and operations of Education Sector in Nigeria-Scale-up Project. Radhika was successful in bringing a more scientific rigor to the project by merging her developing country experience with her technical training at Teachers College. She has also been able to form partnerships with faculty at Teachers College with researchers and program administrators from the Earth Institute. Her work will be critical in shaping the directions of the Education Sector at the Earth Institute.