Given the learning crisis, with 600 million children learning much less than is desirable, there is an increased in interest in sharply improving support to countries wishing to move along on the learning and quality agenda.
The World Bank and UNICEF for example focus on foundational learning in the early grades, and especially in reading and mathematics. One of GPE’s three strategic goals is about improved learning.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wishing to support such entities via the provision of global knowledge public goods, sponsored a workshop on how to use a systems approach to quickly improve foundational learning (FLN) in developing countries.
Actors from three jurisdictions presented their experience: Kenya, the state of Puebla in Mexico, and the municipality of Sobral in Ceará, Brazil. The results are interesting and worth sharing. This blog provides the highlights and a longer note sets out the lessons learned.
New approaches lead to fast progress
These jurisdictions are three of the few that have made systemic and substantial leaps that, if continued and extended, would put them on a trajectory to reach at least the first satisfactory levels in the OECD ranks in a reasonable time.
Few low- or middle-income countries could boast that. Further, the cases are not NGO or donor projects. While they may have had some inspiration from donors and NGOs, they are now at scale and system-wide, largely or altogether using only country-based systems.
The approach from the three cases is summarized in the graphic below. It is important to note that all three cases had achieved universal enrollment but not 100% completion. Thus, a focus on learning quality were, in these cases, justified by the policy actors in terms of both in helping achieve higher primary school completion but also for their own sake. Since GPE cares about both completion and learning, the experience may be relevant.