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13 countries assess numeracy skills in children for improved learning outcomes

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A non-governmental organisation, the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) network, a partnership of member organisations working across Asia, Africa and America, is currently assessing children in basic Mathematics and reading as part of efforts to improve learning outcomes. The initiative, which would be implemented in 13 of its member-countries, is being handled by citizens who are trained to assess children in the selected households.

Briefing journalists on the initiative in Lagos, the managing director, PAL network, Dr. Sara Ruto said the move would help to understand the current status of enrolment and basic mathematics for children between ages five and 15 in the region.“We felt that as members of the global community, it is important to look at the status of our basic numeracy as countries, and be able to proffer solutions to it. We started with numeracy as a common project, we are doing that across the 13 countries because the language of mathematics speaks to each other in a more easy way and next time we want to do reading assessment.

“We are doing a citizen-led assessment of numeracy (CLAN). We are going to the households and villages because that is where we will get children irrespective of their social or economic circumstance, so as to enhance their learning outcomes at the end of the day.

All our countries have signed up to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) 4 so by doing the CLAN assessment, we will able to generate information and data. Though it has not been easy to get a comparative study, but we are proud that citizens have been able to do what may take another 20 years to do.

“We are very proud that LearnNigeria will be able to generate empirical data on the foundational literacy and numeracy skills that children possess. For us as Africans, we are not waiting for solutions to come from the north, but if we come together with our thoughts, we can be solution providers as countries in Africa rather than wait till 2030.”Ruto expressed hope that the data collected would assist policy makers and government officials in planning in the area of education and development.

Managing Director, The Education Partnership (TEP) centre, Mrs. Modupe Adefeso Olateju expressed excitement about the CLAN assesement, noting that though it was the first time the organisation would be collecting such data on numeracy, there will be a benchmark to compare what other countries with similar characteristics have done in measuring learning outcomes. 

“However, we have implemented another CLAN programme called LearnNigeria, within the same context, what we see is a huge amount of interest from the community. We had town halls meetings, we found out that there were a lot of children who were out of school, and startling data on learning outcomes. We had to begin to ask questions from community leaders and what we needed to do to fix the problem.

“For us, what we saw was that as a community, we all have a responsibility to educate our children, rather than blaming or waiting for the government. We as parents and community have roles to play aside just sending our children to school. We also had interest on the data from the government. Recently, we were with the Lagos state government sharing this data and with them taking such a key interest in it because it is going to help them to move towards an evidence- based policy making.

“We saw that across the six states that we have implemented the LearnNigeria programme, there are substantial interests from the government. Some states said they wanted to include the data in their plans. Once it gets in there it becomes a policy priority for the country.The programme manager CLAN, Nigeria, Bridget Azubuike said, the local citizens in the local government areas they go to were the ones collecting the data adding that their capacity to collect the data was dependent on how much training they got.“ For this project, it is one local government in Nigeria and we are doing this in Ikorodu where we have 60 data enumeration areas. We expect that we should be able to get at least 3,000 children.

 


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