Posts

LeAP initiativeAccess to education is a global issue that is deeply connected to issues of global poverty. Education often provides impoverished people with a way to escape poverty through improved job opportunities and better knowledge of healthcare. In this way, reducing poverty in developing countries often requires improving access to education. The World Bank is currently implementing a program called the Learning Assessment Platform, or LeAP, which it hopes will allow world leaders to better track how effective and efficient their nations’ educational systems are. Through the LeAP initiative, the World Bank hopes to improve global education.

Learning in Crisis

Poor and absent education is a serious global issue, with UNESCO finding that roughly 258 million children were not enrolled in school in 2018. That number has likely increased since then as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even for children in impoverished countries who do get an education, many times the education they receive is poor in quality and ineffective. Among developing nations, only 44% of children enrolled in school had obtained proficiency in mathematics and reading in 2017. In sub-Saharan Africa, that number fell to only 10%.

According to the World Bank, a significant factor contributing to these low education rates is the fact that many developing countries lack systems to measure learning outcomes among populations. Without such systems, leaders in these countries are unable to accurately identify the reasons why their education systems are failing, which prevents them from implementing effective policies that would improve the education systems.

The LeAP Initiative

Despite these challenges, the World Bank is hoping to use its resources to improve education by leaps and bounds. In order to meet this goal, the World Bank is working to improve learning assessment systems in developing countries by developing a Learning Assessment Platform. The LeAP initiative would provide countries with the tools and resources needed to develop more effective systems for assessing the state of education among populations.

For the past decade, the World Bank has been working to build a solid base of learning assessment resources for the LeAP program to build off of. With the help of Russia’s similar learning assessment program, called the Russia Education Aid for Development (READ) Trust Fund program, the World Bank has developed a wide range of tools and resources specifically designed to help countries accurately gauge the effectiveness of education systems. These include free online courses for educating policymakers and specialists on effective learning assessment techniques, tools for benchmarking education success and access to more than 60 reports detailing the student assessment systems of dozens of countries.

Investing in Learning

In its efforts to improve global education, the World Bank has done more than just provide developing countries with learning assessment resources. Working with the READ Trust Fund program, the World Bank has helped secure more than $20 million in learning assessment system improvement grants for 12 different countries, including Ethiopia, Cambodia, India and Vietnam.

Through the LeAP initiative and several other global education programs, the World Bank hopes to reduce worldwide “learning poverty” by at least 50% by 2030.

The World Bank’s goal of cutting learning poverty is ambitious but its work on improving learning assessment systems around the world is an important step toward making it a reality. When countries are able to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of education systems, they are able to craft policies that more effectively improve these systems while also allowing other countries to learn from them and develop their own learning assessment systems. In this way, The World Bank’s LeAP initiative is pivotal in its effort to improve global education.

– Marshall Kirk
Photo: Flickr


Kenya, a country in East Africa, has made strides in battling poverty by reforming childhood education. In 2003 Kenya established a free primary school education program meant to ensure that young children receive a basic education. However, the Kenyan school system still has challenges to overcome. Teachers often lack proper training and support, and students often do not have enough school supplies. These obstacles ultimately contribute to low learning outcomes for students. Tusome, which means “let’s read” in Kiswahili, is a national literacy program powering childhood learning in Kenya that attempts to address these education shortfalls.

Origins of The Tusome National Literacy Program

Despite previous efforts to improve childhood learning outcomes by the Kenyan government, assessments from the years 2010-2014 showed no significant change in literacy and 40% of primary grade students could not understand their reading material. Tusome was built on this prior research and “was one of the first experiences of taking a piloted literacy program to national scale through government systems.” Tusome is funded by both the Kenyan government’s Ministry of Education and the USAID organization. The program was implemented in January of 2015 and will run until 2020 with a goal of improving reading for 6.7 million students.

Training and Support of Faculty

Two of Tusome’s key goals are to address the need for faculty training and support in the Kenyan school system. Tusome educates teachers, administrators, coaches, and support staff on the Ministry of Education’s expected learning outcomes. The program also provides Curriculum Support Officers that regularly visit schools to coach and monitor teachers in learning outcomes, though these are not professionals trained in general classroom instruction. Youth associations are also working to help to tutor children and develop a reading culture in their area.

School Supplies and Integration of Technology

One of the Tusome program’s notable achievements is that is has provided 26 million textbooks and supplementary materials for primary school students, ensuring that each student has a textbook of their own. Tusome also offers its students tablets with digitized learning materials, which can also provide feedback and progress monitoring for teachers. The performance of each student is uploaded to a cloud-based network system which is meant to promote greater responsibility within the school system.

Conclusion

Tusome has been able to improve teacher support, training and availability of school materials in Kenyan primary schools. This is, in part, due to the integration of technology in the form of digital materials, tablets and cloud-based technology. Learning outcomes have been promising, even in the early pilot phase. In 1,384 schools, children who reached the Tusome standard for an understanding of the English language increased from 8.6% to 43.7%. Overall, Tusome is considered a successful example of large-scale governmental implementation of a national program that can power childhood learning in Kenya, and serve as a model to education systems around the world.


– Joseph Maria
Photo: Flickr