Nobel Prize-winning economist, Professor Michael Kremer has revealed learning gains in a major study in Africa are among the largest in the international education literature.
The holistic methodology studied predominantly underpins the Government of Rwanda’s transformative education program – Rwanda Education Quality Improvement Program (RwandaEQUIP); designed to transform learning outcomes across the public school system.
The findings show that attending schools delivering highly standardised education has the potential to produce dramatic learning gains at scale. The study, conducted on NewGlobe supported schools in Kenya further suggests that children living in underserved African communities could benefit from 53 percent more learning over the course of their early childhood and primary school career. The findings were presented at the 2022 Education World Forum in London.
It finds that after two years, primary school pupils, in NewGlobe supported schools, are nearly a whole year ahead of children taught using standard methods. It also finds that 82% of Primary 1 pupils, (seven-year-olds) can read a sentence, compared with 27% of their peers in other schools. The World Bank estimates that 90% of 10-year-olds in Sub-Saharan Africa do not reach this benchmark.
“We are proud that an independent study of this size, led by a Nobel-prize winning economist, has found such unequivocal evidence of large learning gains delivered by a methodology that we are currently using in schools across Rwanda, said Clement Uwajeneza, RwandaEQUIP Managing Director.
The study revealed that this methodology underpinning RwandaEQUIP increases equity.
Pupils starting with the lowest learning levels gained the most, with girls making the same leap in learning as boys, compared to the traditional situation where girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are consistently disadvantaged in learning. The study finds that if the benefits were duplicated at scale across public education systems, African pupils from underprivileged communities would be on track to catch up to their peers in countries with three- or four-times higher incomes.
“Educational transformation is a core priority for the Government of Rwanda and bold investments have been made to this effect,” said Gaspard Twagirayezu, Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education.
“The findings of this study provide a wealth of insights that will inform our policies as we accelerate learning to provide quality education for all,” he added.
How it works
Through RwandaEQUIP approach, teachers in public schools are leveraging the structured competence-based curriculum content to deliver technology-enabled learning.
This is coupled with proven classroom engagement practices to improve learning and deliver more engaging, personalised and feedback driven instruction. This ensures that all pupils have the opportunity to grow, thrive and achieve their fullest potential to become globally competitive and build a better future for themselves, their families and all Rwandans.
ECD and primary teachers are trained and thereafter provided with electronic Tablets containing meticulously designed lessons and assessments that help all teachers deliver content in a coherent manner. To access these teaching guides, every morning, the tablets are connected to the head teacher’s smartphone with a designed system to mark their attendance and departure. I can also see when pupils start and finish their lessons, which helps me track their progress,” said Kezia Kangwera, head teacher at Groupe Scolaire (GS) Muyumbu in Gicumbi district.
Teachers are also steadily adapting to using English as a language of instruction. Through RwandaEQUIP, we have been trained on positive behavioural management strategies that build pupil confidence and motivate them to participate in class. “This allows pupils to achieve their full potential, stay attentive and participate actively during lessons, by engaging them in different fun activities during their breaks or when they would usually get bored,” said Benoit Niyonsenga, a teacher at the same school.
“Previously, teaching was just about spending a lot of time while reading different textbooks and developing examples to use while explaining to pupils. But we have been given tablets which help us save time so that we can focus more on engaging with our pupils,” said Foibe Iracyampa, teacher at GS Rubago.
“We have been trained on how to care for and engage with the pupils and discipline them without violating their rights,” she added.
Pupils have equal access to resources they need for success. They are given text books and activity books with various tasks and activities to encourage self-preparation outside of the classroom.
According to Benoit Niyonsenga, a teacher at Groupe Scolaire (GS) Muyumbu, each pupil receives books for each subject in which they can directly respond to quizzes, this saves parents money spent on textbooks.