Central African Republic: Catch-up classes keep students in school
- In the Central African Republic, 39% of students drop out of primary school.
- The GPE-funded remedial education program keeps children in school by providing additional instruction to low-performing students at risk of dropping out to strengthen their reading and math skills.
- The program takes place during school holidays and will benefit 99,000 students in 480 public primary schools by 2025.
This story was written in collaboration with the World Bank.
It is the August school holidays in the Central African Republic, but Naomi Bakeré a 16-year-old student at Boyali 2 School, is hard at work catching up on reading and math skills. She lives in the village of Boyali, located 50 kilometers outside of the capital city, Bangui.
Naomi is one of 99,000 students receiving additional instruction through a remedial education program, which identifies students at risk of dropping out and strengthens their basic competencies in reading and math to help them stay in school.
Naomi’s teacher noticed that her literacy skills were lagging and recommended she take the remedial education courses to catch up to her peers.
Education in a fragile context
The Central African Republic is one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world. Affected by multiple political, economic and security crises over the last decade, the government’s capacity to provide education services has weakened in most regions of the country.
A US$31.6 million GPE grant, implemented by the World Bank, is helping the Ministry of National Education increase access to quality education, with a focus on children living in educationally deprived prefectures.
The poor quality of education in the Central African Republic has led to high dropout rates – 47% for girls and 31% for boys at the primary school level. The government aims to keep that number from growing, in part by identifying low-performing students and providing them with additional literacy and numeracy instruction.
Supporting students at risk of dropping out
The GPE-funded remedial education program scales up an intervention developed and piloted by the World Bank in 2020. Courses run over school holidays and will benefit 99,000 students in 480 public primary schools by 2025.
In April 2023, during the second term vacation, over 21,800 students participated in the program, exceeding the goal of reaching 15,000 students. In August 2023, around 46,800 students participated in the program, and more will participate in December.
The remedial education classes are taught by qualified teachers who receive training on how to help struggling students strengthen their reading, writing and math skills. In addition to disciplinary content, training focuses on accelerated learning teaching methods.
The trained teachers receive top-up renumeration to deliver the program during the school holidays, and school-based management committees supervise the program.
As of October 2023, 801 teachers have been trained to deliver the remedial education program along with 194 school managers and 43 heads of school districts and school inspectors.
Building a stronger education system
In addition to the remedial education classes, efforts to improve the quality of education include introducing Sango as the language of instruction in early grades, replacing French.
Sango and French are the official languages of the Central African Republic, and the government's current strategy prioritizes the former as the language most likely to unite Central Africans and contribute to building social cohesion – as it is the only common factor between certain communities.
GPE funding supports the development of new teaching and learning materials in Sango, and piloting Sango as the language of instruction in two prefectures, among other activities.
The GPE program is also helping address the acute shortage of qualified teachers and high student-teacher ratios by increasing the capacity of teacher training centers.
Scripted lessons strengthen teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical competence in literacy and numeracy, and classroom observation guides boost the role of school principals.
To improve access to education, the Central African Republic is expanding school infrastructure, namely in educationally deprived prefectures.
GPE is funding the construction of 400 classrooms and rehabilitation of 400 classrooms at the primary level, and the construction of one pre-primary classroom at targeted schools. At the secondary level, the program is financing the construction of 8 new schools and 160 classrooms, as well as the rehabilitation of 40 classrooms.
Thanks to the government’s commitment to education as a key lever for the country's recovery and economic development, more Central African children have opportunities to learn and are staying in school.