The United States Government, represented by the United States Agency for International Development in Ethiopia (USAID/Ethiopia), awarded Creative Associates International and its partners a five-year project entitled READ II. The goal of the project is to improve the reading proficiency and educational attainment of 15 million children, so they can lead productive lives and drive Ethiopia’s economic, social, and political development.
READ II will provide students in six target regions – Addis Ababa, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, SNNPR, and Tigray with a learning environment in schools, communities, and homes. Quality instruction to meet differing student needs will be ensured via an effectively delivered, proven reading curriculum, with teachers trained and mentored in its application and assessment. Schools, communities, and households will value literacy, support increased reading time, and champion extra-curricular activities to promote student reading. Boys and girls will learn to read in the early grades and progress to higher education levels.
Lack of support for a culture of reading in the home, schools, and the community contributes to learning gaps, with more vulnerable students falling behind. This is linked to factors such as low parental and community literacy levels and a lack of engaging reading materials and SRMs.
Our whole child/whole family/whole community approach will enhance existing structures, knowledge and good practices and transform communities into resilient reading zones that champion improved reading skills in families. With a dynamic network of schools, local implementing partners (LIPS), woreda representatives, youth, and parents, we will use an evidence-based community engagement approach that strengthens community collaboration and equips parents with skills to support reading and writing at home, and builds the skills of the youth volunteers.
Ethiopia is one of the few countries in Africa that has institutionalized learning assessments through the ENLA, which is administered at different grade levels at four-year intervals. As a national assessment tool, the adoption of the ENLA is a major achievement in and of itself, providing insights into learning challenges across the country. The first ENLA test was administered in grades 4 and 8 in 1999 and 2000, and subsequently expanded to grades 10 and 12 in 2008 and 2009. Grade 4 students were tested in reading in mother tongue, English, Mathematics, and Environmental Science, and grade 8 students were tested in Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, and Physics. Composite scores for each grade appear to have dropped over time, suggesting that there is still much work to be done to improve learning achievements in the country. Equally problematic are the low numbers of students attaining the required competency levels across subjects in Grades 10 and 12. Almost 55% of grade 12 students, who represent the top tier of secondary education, did not obtain basic competency. The first Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) of 2010 confirmed the ENLA results. The most recent EGRA of 2014 shows some improvement in reading scores, though serious gaps remain. Boys consistently outperform girls in reading in across skills tests. And while the number of zero scores dropped between 2010 and 2014, the vast majority of Grades 2 and 3 students tested did not achieve state benchmarks in reading. Based on these outcomes, the MOE has made the commitment to improving students’ reading performance, especially in the early grades.
The challenges to improving achievement in early grade reading are multi-faceted and require sustained actions on several fronts. While the last twenty years have seen enormous investment in teacher development, teachers continue to ask for increased school-based support and better working environments. Until recently, however, even basic learning tools, such as textbooks and teachers guides, have not always been available or sufficient. Parents’ involvement in their children’s learning is often dictated by survival, not longer-term education goals, so parental engagement remains low. A weak classroom-home connection is one of the serious challenges in education, exacerbating the problem of literacy achievement. Literary rates in the country overall are especially low, as is access and participation in reading and writing activities. Children often finish their schooling without reading a single book besides their textbook. Many parents, who cannot read and write themselves, struggle to support their children’s learning.
USAID’s READ design recognizes the key role of quality curriculum, instructional practices (through READ Technical Assistance) and the importance of additional factors, such as the presence of quality reading materials, inside and outside of the classrooms (through READ CO). Research conducted by Save the Children and other organizations consistently shows that household and community environments are critical to improved reading and writing outcomes. These environments are especially important to providing opportunities for learners to practice using their emerging reading and writing skills. Motivational factors including support for learning to read within the family, and the availability of reading materials within households—are vital to improving reading achievement. Across country contexts, the category of variables most frequently associated with reading outcomes is the quality of the home literacy environment: availability of materials for and habits around reading. These variables are essential for creating the conditions for learners to develop the skills they need to read independently.
Literacy Boost (LB): Boosting Children’s Reading Skills & Love for Reading LB is SC’s global evidence- based approach to improve early-grade reading skills. In 2010, SC began piloting LB in 15 primary schools in Ethiopia. Key interventions include: establishing book banks in villages; training community reading camp leaders and facilitators; supporting reading camp events to promote good reading practices and make reading fun; establishing reading buddies by pairing older children with younger children; and organizing community awareness raising workshops to encourage parents to support their children at home. The curriculum-aligned community outreach model that OWDA has developed for READ CO draws upon the key components of the LB approach.
The existence and availability of reading materials for children, especially young readers, is just one indicator of a robust culture of reading to support children’s reading and writing skills development. Parental and community awareness, attitudes, and habits around children’s reading also influence the culture of reading at household, community, and national levels. For example, there is a direct correlation between the amount of time that family members read to a child at home and their reading performance in school. SC’s LB end line assessment revealed that family members’ reading to a child at home explained 19.9% of the variance in reading accuracy. Moreover, in this same study, having someone at home reading to a child was associated, on average, with the student reading 14 more words per minute correctly.
Organization for Welfare and Development in Action (OWDA), formerly Ogaden Welfare and Development Association (OWDA), is non-governmental humanitarian organization established in 1999 in Jigjiga, Ethiopia. It was initiated by a team of Ethiopian-Somalis who were concerned by the abject poverty and underdevelopment of the region. Currently, is it operating in 6 zones and 36 woredas of Ethiopian Somali region through it development and humanitarian works. It has recently launched a project or programme in Dire Dawa city administration. OWDA is of the Local Implementing partners in READ I community Outreach in Somali Region the READ I community outreach is working in four woreda of Fafan zone in 120 target schools. At same time also OWDA is working Education in Emergency with UNICEF and NRC in responding the educational needs of conflict IDP (internally displaced people) camps in Somali Region for the children affected by ongoing conflict in the Oromia and Somali Region border areas. OWDA will use its experience, capacity and what were learned from these education projects for effective implementation of READ II community Outreach Program in Somali Region.
|Goal: The goal of the project is to improve the reading proficiency and educational attainment of 15 million children, so they can lead productive lives and drive Ethiopia’s economic, social, and political development.
Objective 2 IR 2. Strengthened community engagement in education activities