While Kenya and Nairobi were at a standstill preparing for the US President Barack Obama’s Airforce I to land on July 24 for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, in another beautiful scenic setting, a global network on learning was born! The network will help hold countries accountable for ensuring their children are not just in school, but also learning. Committed to transparently conducting citizen-led household based assessments on learning, the network will increasingly enable communities to hold their leaders to account; it will support the call for lifelong learning for all – central to the new SDG on education.
Citizen-led learning assessments have been one of the most internationally influential educational initiatives of the decade. However, what of impact in their home countries? This blog is written on ASER India’s tenth birthday, prompting us to celebrate its success but also look to the future. ASER in India has been ground-breaking, inspiring participatory learning assessments across the globe:
The Hewlett Foundation supported Results for Development Institute in this evaluation of citizen-led assessments of learning. The Foundation’s Global Development and Population Program has funded citizen-led assessments as a central part of our Quality Education in Developing Countries Initiative and continues to do so as a way of measuring children’s basic reading and math abilities
The bell has rung. Civil society leaders from India, Pakistan, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Mexico, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania have come together, with optimism and conviction, asking others to join a movement to ensure that all children learn the fundamental, life-changing skills of reading and arithmetic.
Ten years ago, Pratham developed a revolutionary approach to assessing children’s reading and math achievement when it launched a nation-wide household survey called the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). As we’ve reported elsewhere, every year ASER tests children on their ability to read simple second grade level text and compute simple arithmetic up to fourth grade level.
As is common on hot summer afternoons in villages in India, a man lay resting on a string cot under the mango tree. It was a Sunday. His three sons were playing nearby. The father knew that there was a survey of children and education going on in the village. “Yes, they all go to school” he told us as we approached. “May I ask them to read?” I asked. The father looked sceptical. “Yes, you can, but they do go to school” he explained patiently.
Three years ago I was in rural India directly participating in one of these surveys in the almost unbearable heat of summer. I was with two Indian colleagues who were hard at work mapping a village in Uttar Pradesh under the direction of the village headman. We were squatting in the shade but there was no escaping the hot, humid air.
We know how to expand enrolments, and politicians have been quick to do so in response to massively increased demand from parents. But we still don’t know enough about how to improve learning, relevance and equity in education. Yet these topics are at the heart of the likely post-2015 education targets as recorded in the Muscat agreement. Not only do we not know enough about them, we also don’t know enough about how to sequence educational reforms, adopt innovations and improve accountability.
The group of mothers sitting in the sun in a village in north India was happy to chat. We talked about children and about their school. “Are they going to school?” I asked. “Of course,” said the mothers proudly. Some went further to say, “we even send them for private coaching after school.” “How are they doing with their education?” The common word for education in Hindi is the same as reading-writing. The chatter stopped. One mother looked at me sternly and said, “How do we know? We are illiterate.
Last month, my colleague Dana Schmidt wrote a blog post about what the Hewlett Foundation and its grantees have learned about improving children’s early learning from the Quality Education in Developing Countries Initiative. Under this Initiative, our grantees implemented a variety of instructional models both within the school day and after school hours, with children enrolled and with those who were not.
Historias del blog
- INDIA: EXPANSIÓN MASIVA EN LA ESCUELA, DEMASIADO POCO APRENDIZAJE , ¿Y AHORA QUÉ?
- Mis esperanzas y aspiraciones como Becaria de Investigación de la Red PAL 2018
- ¿En qué se diferencia ASER 2017 de las encuestas ASER anteriores? Un ensayo fotográfico
- El 12º Informe anual sobre el estado de la educación (ASER 2017: Más allá de lo básico)