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Liliana Angelica Ponguta

Yale University

Associate Research Scientist
Yale School of Medicine and the Yale Child Study Center
United States of America
PhD, Cellular and Molecular Pathology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2008
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Research Focus
Liliana Angelica Ponguta’s discipline is global early childhood development (ECD). Her research focuses on the development of national ECD policies and implementation plans, impact and process evaluations of ECD programs in low-income settings, and the use of digital communication platforms to broker knowledge and propel investment in ECD globally. Specifically, she explores the impact of decentralization on ECD systems, entry points for systems strengthening, and feasible and contextual national-level measurement of quality in ECD provision. She is also focused on projects that evaluate the impact and implementation of ECD interventions in contexts of high vulnerability.

My plans for the fellowship period
During the fellowship period I plan to:
(1) Conduct two randomized controlled trials on the impact of school readiness programs. In Pakistan, I will continue my work with investigators from Agha Khan University to develop and evaluate a school readiness program championed by youth leaders in rural Pakistan. In Beirut, I will continue our research with local partners from the Arab Resource Collective on the evaluation of the Mother-Child Education Program (ACEV Foundation) amongst Palestinian refugees and marginalized Lebanese communities.
(2) Generate open-source webinar and podcasting series to enhance our experiential knowledge on social transformation, violence prevention, and peacebuilding through ECD. I plan to systematically explore the role of adolescents and families with respect to engagement and leadership in ECD systems at the community-level. My aim is to utilize systematically gathered evidence to propel a global dialogue on the role of ECD as a mechanism for achieving sustainable peace.
(3) Provide technical support to governments on ECD governance and quality strengthening. My aim is to continue to provide countries with technical support in the realm of ECD provision at scale. In particular, I plan to focus on ways to measure quality contextually to inform policies and programs at national levels.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
Despite immense strides over the last decades in improving child and youth outcomes, threats to children and youth’s ability to thrive persist globally. My work aims to unpack program and policy attributes that can more effectively grant children and youth opportunities, environments, and support in light of grave structural challenges that include poverty, conflict and displacement. I believe that my work, by utilizing translational research methodologies, addressing gaps in our understanding of effective implementation, and linking practice to policy-level questions, can contribute to a much needed evidentiary base for effective ECD programming in fragile contexts. It is my vision that through my interdisciplinary research and international and multisectoral partnerships we can take significant steps towards effectively brokering knowledge and ultimately mobilizing investment for children and youth at a global scale. I also believe that by capitalizing on innovations in social media and virtual communications, we can be more effective in increasing buy-in for ECD and two-generational programming involving the youth. In light of the new Sustainable Development Goals, my work aims to address systems and institutional strengthening mechanism that I believe are fundamental to guaranteeing child and youth’s needs are met and rights realized.

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