Realizing the joy of learning math in Niger

In their own words, children in Niger share their thoughts about learning math.

January 28, 2019 by Takao Maruyama, Global Partnership for Education Secretariat
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1 minute read
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Nana, 5th grade student in Niger. Credit: Akiko Kageyama of JICA. Credit: Akiko Kageyama of JICA
Nana, 5th grade student in Niger.
Akiko Kageyama of JICA

With the support of communities and the engagement of teachers, children in Niger are catching up and learning the basics in math. Read the full story.

The interviews with children, parents and teachers in Niger were conducted by Akiko Kageyama of JICA.

Rachia is in 2nd grade at Sorey Ganda primary school located in Kollo, Tillaberi region, Niger. “I love doing math workbook activities, as I can understand math more and more. I learned numbers and basic operations. I did the math activities with brothers and sisters.”
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
Oumar is in 5th grade: “I was not good at math before; it was difficult for me. But I understand much better since I started the math workbook. I like doing this work. Now, I am good at math!”
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
Nana is in 5th grade: “I learned the first digit, the second digit, and the third digit. I also learned additions and subtractions with the workbook. The teacher and community facilitator taught me step by step. I need to understand well for moving to the next pages of the book, so when I didn’t understand well, they helped me. I tried math problems again and again, now I understand.”
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
Teachers of Sorey Ganda primary school appreciate that students have improved their understanding of math a lot since the beginning of the program. They realized that even the students who before had difficulties with numbers could learn day by day with practicing various problems of the math workbook. They could also identify where students had difficulties through the activities. They found that students really loved the math workbook and they pressed teachers to start new activities.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
Parents of children attending Sorey Ganda primary school really appreciate the support, as their children significantly improved their understanding of math. Their children go to school every day and studied hard. They saw that children were a bit tired as the activity was organized after class, but they were really enjoying it. Parents said that children asked questions and taught each other.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
A school management committee (SMC) organizes the cycle of activities following the “Plan, Do, See” model to improve math learning. First, students are assessed on whether they know numbers and basic operations. The findings of the assessment are presented at the SMC general assembly, which then determines the quality of teaching and learning and of learning materials. Then the SMC plans remedial activities and implements them with the support of the community and teachers.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
In Niger, school management committees were often not known by the communities or they were sometimes considered as exclusive, mostly led by headmasters or village chiefs and not open to change. The “School for All” project introduced secret ballots to ensure that the committees were open to the public.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
Children are divided into proficiency levels and provided with different math workbooks. A self-learning math workbook includes progressive learning in small steps. It was developed through technical cooperation by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and distributed to schools by the Ministry of Education, with support of the GPE grant to Niger (the World Bank is the grant agent. The French AFD and the Swiss cooperation also contributed funding. The exercises gradually increase in difficulty and various exercises are repeated to strengthen students’ mastery.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
Children learn mathematics using drills at their own pace. Teachers and community facilitators supervise remedial activity classes, giving instructions at the start of each page, coaching, correcting, encouraging, and checking progress. The Ministry of Education organized training for them on the methodology to support children’s learning using math workbooks. After the training, teachers and community facilitators organized regular meeting to discuss progress and give advice to each other.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
In Niger, the Ministry of Education is experimenting the integration of the methodology “Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL)” of Indian NGO Pratham to the “School for All” model. The model will soon be expanded to basic literacy in addition to basic math.
Credit: Akiko Kageyama/JICA
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Niger
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