Like many other African countries, Niger is severely affected by the learning crisis. And the scale of the problem becomes larger due to the continuous increase in the population size. The factors behind the crisis are complex and include: motivation and skills of teachers, readiness of learners, school management and school inputs such as textbooks, technology and infrastructure (The World Bank, 2018).
In 2018, over 3,500 schools and communities in the Tillaberi region collaborated to organize remedial extracurricular activities in basic mathematics by voluntary contribution of teacher, parents and community members under the “School for All” project. So far, about 300,000 students from 1st to 4th grades have been able to catch up in number recognition and basic math operations.
Doubling math test scores in 3 months
Since the start of remedial activities three months ago, test results in participating schools show that correct responses on tests have significantly improved, doubling from around 35% to 70% on average. This outcome is the results of efforts by various actors locally, nationally and globally, all working for a common purpose: to deliver better education for children in Niger.
At the local level, school management committees (SMC) conducted basic assessments of students and planned the remedial activities for each school. On average, each school organized 133 hours of remedial activities over 3 months (about 10 hours per week), on top of the daily class time. Teachers and community facilitators helped students study after class, and parents and community members backed up the organization.
At the national level, the Ministry of Primary Education, with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), conducted training sessions for headmasters and representatives of SMC to strengthen them. SMCs are key to ensure effective collaboration among teachers, parents and the community, but too often, they don’t function well because of insufficient communication among them.