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Usaid Schools Project

Usaid Schools Project

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Published by Dennis Itumbi
The US Government plan on a National Reading Project
The US Government plan on a National Reading Project

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Published by: Dennis Itumbi on May 21, 2013
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SECTION C - STATEMENT OF WORKUSAID/Kenya Office of Education and Youth
 
Kenya Early Grade Reading ProjectC.1. Purpose
The Office of Education and Youth in USAID/Kenya plans to launch a five-year basic education initiativeto improve the reading skills of approximately 2.7 million children by 2018. USAID anticipates that thisinitiative will consist of two components:1.
 
One 3.5 year contract, tentatively dubbed the Kenya Early Grade Reading Project (KEGRP), thatwill increase the reading skills of approximately 1.5 million children by the end of 2015 throughthe implementation of the components laid out in this SOW; and2.
 
Ongoing capacity building to the Ministry of Education (MOE), provided through separatemechanisms, to prepare for a transition to MOE implementation of KEGRP through directgovernment-to-government assistance in Years 4 and 5, which will result in at least 1.2 millionadditional children with improved reading skills.
This SOW is for the 3.5 year Kenya Early Grade Reading Project (KEGRP), which
 
builds on research-based reading initiatives to create a sustainable and affordable national reading program in theapproximately 28,000 formal and non-formal
1
public and private primary schools across Kenya.
 Through a highly collaborative approach, the program will create interventions that expand and bring toscale proven ongoing improvements in reading development that are taking place in Kenya, withintegrated options for transition to government and community ownership during the out years of theproject. Primary activities will include the production and distribution of materials; training of nearly100,000 education personnel; community engagement initiatives; and the development of high qualityassessments and evaluations to measure the impact of the various components. By the end of theinitiative, USAID/Kenya anticipates the early grade reading (EGR) initiative will lead to the followingresults:1.
 
Improved supervision, support, and delivery of reading instruction to target students;2.
 
Greater engagement in reading by communities, the private sector, and the public; and3.
 
Improved government capacity, in target departments, to review, revise, and implementreading-related policies.
C.2. Background
Since 2005, EDY has supported Ministry of Education (MOE) efforts to improve access to qualityeducation, build the capacity of education personnel and institutions, sponsor HIV/AIDS and Life Skills
1
 
1
Non-formal schools
– 
 
or “low 
-
cost private community schools” – 
 
are the predominant form of schooling for children in Kenya’s informal urbansettlements (“slums”). The 2011 UWEZO report estimates 20% of Kenya’s school 
-going age children attend private schools, with rates muchhigher in slums. These community private schools charge a nominal fee to educate thousands of underserved and poor children who would not otherwise have access to schooling despite a national free primary education policy.
 
 
2education projects, and collaborate with the private sector in various ways to maximize information andcommunication technologies (ICT) to improve education. These
efforts complement the GOK’s
education and social reforms that, in 2003, were dramatically bolstered by the termination of schoolfees and levies for primary education.As a result of this act by the GOK, total student enrollment increased 46% over seven years, from 5.9million public and private primary school students in 2002 to 8.6 million in 2009. While this amounts toa Net Enrollment Rate (NER) of 92.5%, with near gender parity, the effect of such drastic change onsystematic service delivery and instructional quality
 –
including in the core skill of reading
 –
wasdamaging. Over a seven-year period (2000-2007), Kenya's reading proficiency dropped from second tofifth of the 15 African countries participating in the Standard 6 examination administered by theSouthern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ).
UWEZO’s 2011
 Are Our Children Learning? 
assessment study reported that only 30% of Standard 3 children could read aStandard 2 level story in English or Kiswahili, and that 4% of Standard 8 children could not read aStandard 2 story in English. The 2007 analysis of EGR in the Malindi district of Coast province found thatstudents in Standard 2 could read, on average, just 11 words per minute, far below the internationalbenchmark of 52 words per minute for
‘at risk’
grade 2 students. A similar analysis in 2009 reportedthat 14% of students tested in English, 18.6% in Kiswahili, 14.8% in Gikuyu, and 20.3% in Dholuo in thelast term of Standard 3 could not read a single word correctly. Simply put, a large number of Kenyanchildren are unable to read or comprehend simple text.Since it is a foundational skill, poor reading ability links to
students’
dropout rates, repeating of courses,and underperformance in other content areas. The 2011 USAID Global Education Strategy recognizes
the importance of developing strong early grade readers: “Given limited resources… the most strategic
impact [the Agency] can make in basic education is to address early grade reading as an outcome that is
critical to sustain and ensure learning for children.” In Kenya, children who perform poorly in Standards
1 and 2 are likely to score lower on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) Standard 8 exam,repeat a year, or drop out. The strategy continues:
“…i
n stable, well performing countries with unmetneeds in basic education, the priority focus will be on assuring learning outcomes for primary grade
children, especially in reading.”
KEGRP will support this goal and aims to improve the reading skills of approximately 30 percent of the more than eight million children who will be enrolled in Grades 1 and 2through 2018. This Request for Information will inform the solicitation that covers the first 3.5 years of the project before full or partial transition of activities to the GOK.
C.3. Rationale
In order to bolster its educational standards, the GOK enacted in 2005 a series of structured policyreforms and investment via the Kenya Education Sector Support Program (KESSP). At its core, KESSPutilized specially designed interventions to rapidly and adequately increase access to quality basiceducation. The first five-year phase of KESSP ended in 2010. Phase Two (called NESSP, the NationalEducation Sector Support Program) is under development; it is expected to launch in 2013 and continuethrough 2018. The draft version of NESSP outlines the GOK strategy to improve the quality of basiceducation services, specifically those surrounding the development of reading. It is anticipated that theMOE will launch a national reading program via NESSP that will encompass early childhood education(pre-school) through Standard 2, of which KEGRP will be an integral component.The interest of the MOE in facilitating their own
knowledge of ‘what works’ in education
was evidentthroughout KESSP, notably by their active participation and subsequent leadership in the development
 
3of a set of instructional materials and assessment tools. These tools included the USAID-funded EarlyGrade Reading Assessment (EGRA) in 2007, the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) in June2009, and an additional, experimental EGR intervention in 2009 focused on improving reading outcomesin Kiswahilli, English, Dholuo, and Gikuyu (funded by Hewlett). The results of these interventionsprovided strong evidence that the explicit focus on reading
 –
at the policy level, combined with targetedlesson plan development and ongoing teacher training and feedback
 –
has a significant impact onstudent achievement. Based on the success of these efforts, both EGRA and EGMA tools are now in usein other countries across the developing world.The MOE further demonstrated its commitment to reading through the creation of the NationalAssessment System for Monitoring Learner Achievement (NASMLA), the MOE system that tracks studentachievement, and the development of the National Assessment Center (NAC), the overarching GOKbody that oversees national assessments. Both efforts define standard assessment practices andmeasure reading gains akin to EGRA and EGMA. KNEC currently leads NASMLA and, in June 2010,released the first
Report on Monitoring Learner Achievement Study for Class 3 in Literacy and Numeracy 
.Due in part to the success of these early interventions and the already extensive research on EGR inKenya, USAID/Kenya launched the three-year Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) initiative in August2011. PRIMR was designed to serve as a research study to examine additional areas for MOEintervention. To date, PRIMR and the MOE have completed a revised scope and sequence of the currentreading curriculum for Standard 1 and 2 English and Kiswahili subject areas, produced 150-detailedlesson plans in both English and Kiswahili, and trained teachers and Teacher Advisory Center (TAC)tutors in the use of the methodology.The GOK recognized that a nationwide expansion of the EGR interventions of recent years was animmediate priority. As such, USAID/Kenya received a formal request from the MOE in early 2012 todevelop and implement a nationwide EGR program. The MOE requested that the program delivertargeted reading interventions via each of the language subject areas (Kiswahili and English), to begin in2013, with appropriate scale up by 2014.At the same time, PRIMR conducted a baseline and midterm evaluation of 225 target schools in Nairobi,Thika, and Nakuru. The midterm evaluation assessed more than 1,800 pupils in July 2012, andcompared with the baseline study gains in treatment and control schools. Given that the interventionwas only active for approximately four instructional months, the PRIMR initiative showed impressivegains. PRIMR increased English and Kiswahili letter sound knowledge by 18 letters per minute in fourmonths, which is more than the average gain for a year. For reading, the causal impact was anadditional 7 words per minute in English and 3 words per minute in Kiswahili. For readingcomprehension, the effect was a 7% increase
for English and 4% for Kiswahili. In short, PRIMR’s impact
was approximately the equivalent of an additional half-year of schooling, so pupils in PRIMR schoolslearned as much in a few months as what non-PRIMR pupils learned in a full year.

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