Charles Gale, a Ph.D. candidate in the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is the 2021 recipient of the Tessa Jowell Doctoral Research Fellowship. Charles’ research will build on education reforms in Ghana by identifying measurable factors that can predict the performance of early career teachers.
The Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program annually awards the Tessa Jowell Fellowship through an open application process available to support doctoral research which aligns with the policy priorities of Ministers participating in the Program by students across the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Kennedy School, and Graduate School of Education. Named in honor of the late Baroness Tessa Jowell, a founding member of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program Advisory Board, the Fellowship honors her contribution to the Program and her enthusiasm in sharing the depth of her public leadership experience with successive cohorts of Ministers invited to participate in the Harvard Ministerial Program.
During the virtual award ceremony, Harvard Chan School Dean Michelle Williams said, “It is truly an honor and privilege to present an award named in recognition of a dear friend and mentor [Jowell].” Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Bridget Long added, “Charles’ research will help to further inform education reform initiatives in Ghana led over the past four years by former Education Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, a proud ‘alumnus’ of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program.”
Charles’ interest in education initially came from an experience teaching English abroad in Vietnam. “I liked teaching, there were aspects of it I really enjoyed, but I also found it super challenging. It made me respect and appreciate everything that teachers do.” Charles said of his experience.
The decision to ultimately pursue graduate degrees came from recognizing that he was more interested in research. “I felt that my skillset and temperament were better suited to research and found myself more drawn to topics of policy and economic development,” he said, “that is how I could give back and support educators and students.”
The research topic for the Tessa Jowell Fellowship stems from Charles’ involvement in the Harvard Ministerial Program’s Student Policy Research Fellowship this past year. His team’s project focused on evaluating outcomes from education reforms in Ghana and provided Charles with an opportunity to work directly with officials in the Ministry of Education. “The experience with the Ministerial Student Research Fellowship gave me the opportunity to work with the Education Ministry to evaluate a number of policy reforms, one of them being around pre-service teacher education and professionalization,” said Charles, “and that’s where it met my own emerging research agenda across teacher labor markets, hiring and professional development, and instructional practices.”
“The experience I will be gaining through the Tessa Jowell Fellowship will allow me to hopefully build my own research agenda in the future,” said Charles about receiving the Fellowship. “Having the opportunity to work with people in the Ministry of Education in Ghana who are also interested in policies and the types of programs that I think are important is very exciting.”