Nikaein Towfighian, Samira

Education Global Practice, Middle East and North Africa Region
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Teacher policy, Early childhood education, Education economics, Refugee education, Gender discrimination
Education Global Practice, Middle East and North Africa Region
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Samira Nikaein Towfighian is an Education Specialist at the World Bank, where she works on lending operations and education research in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. As the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Focal Point for MENA, Samira leads ECE projects at the regional-level, as well as in West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and Egypt. Her work focuses on improving access and quality of early childhood education, particularly for vulnerable children, and enhancing parental practices that are conducive to children’s early stimulation, nutrition and healthy development. Samira also leads a number of research projects to strengthen the evidence base for early childhood development through experimental research and measurement of early learning outcomes. Beyond ECE, Samira works on a range of education and development policy issues including learning assessments, teacher policy (recruitment, training, motivation, and career development), refugee education, education-to-work transition, and gender discrimination in the labor market. Samira holds a Master’s Degree in International Education Policy, with a concentration in economics and statistics, from Harvard University.  

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    Early Childhood Development in Qatar: Status and Opportunities for the Future
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-10) Nikaein Towfighian, Samira ; Adams, Lindsay Sarah
    Early childhood development (ECD) is a multidimensional process that takes place from conception until age five. These years mark the most important period for an individual's development. In this period, the building blocks of the brain and nervous system are formed, and critical skills and capacities begin to develop across a number of interrelated domains (Nelson 2000). Despite this ample international evidence, the state of ECD in Qatar has thus far been understudied. Child development outcomes in Qatar are below what is expected given its level of economic development. Gaps in self-regulation skills persist, with a third of children ages three and four being unable to attend to, and focus on, simple tasks without being distracted easily. As a tripartite collaboration between the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) at Qatar Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of the State of Qatar and the World Bank, this study begins to fill this gap by providing an overview of the state of ECD in Qatar and setting forward recommendations to strengthen ECD in the country. The report first analyzes ECD outcomes in Qatar, examining how Qatar fares in five ECD domains compared to other countries. Section two builds the evidence base in the Qatari context by testing whether specific ECD programs are associated with improved child outcomes in the country. Section three takes a systemic view, analyzing the policies that govern ECD in Qatar and offers recommendations for their enhancement. Finally, section four concludes with a summary of key policy recommendations and some considerations for their implementation.
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    The Last Mile to Quality Service Delivery in Jordan
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2017-05-11) Rabie, Tamer Samah ; Nikaein Towfighian, Samira ; Clark, Cari ; Camrnett, Melani
    A growing body of research suggests that the quantity and quality of structural inputs of education and healthcare services such as infrastructure, classroom and medical supplies, and even teacher and medical training are largely irrelevant if teachers and healthcare providers do not exert the requisite effort to translate these inputs into effective teaching and medical service. To exert adquate effort, providers must feel they are accountable for the quality of service they provide. Yet a sense of accountability among providers does not necessarily occur naturally, often requiring mechanisms to monitor and incentivize provider effort. The literature on improving provider accountability has under-emphasized the role of monitoring practices by school principals and chief medical officers. This study begins to fill this gap by investigating the role of within-facility accountability mechanisms in the education and health sectors of Jordan. To do this, an analysis of existing and original data from these sectors was conducted in which the association of within-facility monitoring and provider effort was quantified. The results indicate that within-facility monitoring is underutilized in both sectors and is a consistent predictor of higher provider effort.
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    The Impact of Employer Discrimination on Female Labor Market Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from Tunisia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-08) Alaref, Jumana ; Nikaein Towfighian, Samira ; Paez, Gustavo Nicolas ; Audah, Mohammed
    The role of employer discrimination in widening labor market differences between men and women has been hypothesized and investigated in different settings. Using a field experiment, this paper examines the presence and magnitude of gender-based discrimination by employers at the point of screening in Tunisia. The study sent out 1,571 fictitious and substantially identical pairs of male and female resumes in response to online job advertisements. On average, women were 2.4 percentage points more likely than men to receive a callback from an employer. However, this average effect hides substantial heterogeneity across economic sectors. In the information technology sector, women were 15 percentage points less likely to receive a callback than men. No discrimination against or in favor of women is found in engineering, whereas in marketing and finance, women were 19 and 4 percentage points more likely to receive a callback, respectively. The paper also finds that, unlike men, women may suffer from discrimination based on their physical appearance. Veiled women were 8.5 percentage points less likely to receive a callback than non-veiled women. Overall, the findings suggest that, at the point of screening, employer discrimination against women in Tunisia is sector specific, and, on its own, it cannot fully explain the complex challenge of female unemployment in the country.