Kenya: Kisumu Kids Score badly in literacy

The Star Newspaper
Nairobi, Kenya
June 18th 2014

By Faith Matete

FORTY one per cent of children in standard three cannot do any subtraction for class two works in Kisumu county according to a survey. Uwezo Kenya conducted the survey to contribute, improve literacy and numeracy for children across East Africa. The survey was carried out among a nationally representative random sample of children in primary school from six to 16 years so that the results could be used to monitor national and regional performance.

Speaking during the launch of Uwezo Kenya 2013 annual learning assessment ranking sheet in Kisumu, Uwezo regional coordinator Silas Maujih said sharp inequalities exist across the counties. He said the top five positions are dominated by counties in Central and Nairobi while the bottom five positions are taken by counties in arid regions. Maujih said Kisumu East was position 132, Kisumu West 142 and Nyando 120 out of 156 districts in the country. He said it’s a great concern that 62 per cent of children in standard three in the county cannot read a paragraph. Maujih said they used the household method to conduct the survey, which involved 145,564 children in 64,909 households across East Africa.

He said the survey targeted public schools and households as they wanted to give parents an opportunity to know how their children perform. “We have a lot of factors that have contributed towards the ranking of Kisumu in that position. It’s a concern that should be tackled,” Maujih said. He said it is worrying that a child in standard eight cannot read nor tackle standard two simple mathematics.

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Study: How parents recall the Uwezo assessment experience


Uwezo at Twaweza: Learning and Evaluation
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
11th June 2014

LQAS Report thumbnailThis report presents results from the Lot Quality Assessment Survey, which was implemented four weeks after the 2013 Uwezo assessment in Uganda, and was primarily a monitoring tool to check on the implementation of certain key aspects of the assessment.

The objectives of the study were:

1. To investigate the recall of the assessment itself, and recall of instant feedback (as per the 2013 assessment)
2. To investigate the reach and coverage of the Uwezo communication materials distributed at the time of the learning assessment
3. To investigate the parental engagement with their children’s learning through behaviors such as reading with children, and checking homework
4. To gather additional information relevant to Uwezo, such as parental preferences for the type of communication materials

Some key findings include:

  • 84.2% of the respondents had heard of Uwezo prior to the LQAS exercise, and 89.2% also confirmed that someone had come to their household to assess the children in the previous month.
  • Regarding the communication materials distributed through Uwezo, 81.6% of all households reported having received the calendar, 67.9% reported having received the poster, and 52.1% report having received the booklet.
  • Preferences were fairly evenly divided among the three types of materials, with a somewhat greater preference overall (at 38.4%) for the calendar
  • Just about half (51.1%) of all parents checked their children’s homework and 36.1% read with their child in the month before the survey; however, there was considerable variation among the groups of districts sampled.

For more details see the full report.

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Why Ugandan pupils don’t learn

Uwezo Uganda
The Independent
Kampala, Uganda
May 25, 2014

When Uwezo education survey statistics tell half the story

Only 16% of pupils in Primary level three can pass a test of Primary Two level in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. By Primary Seven level, 20% of pupils still cannot pass the Primary Two level test. Most of those who fail are from Uganda.

Those are some of the highlights in the Uwezo Learning Assessment Survey 2013. Uwezo, an NGO dedicated to improving literacy and numeracy among school-age children between 6 and 16 years through creating social situation awareness, has published the reports since 2009. Data on learning outcomes, school conditions, and homes of the children is collected in selected districts. The Uwezo surveys are “citizen-led household based assessments” meaning that they are conducted at home not school and directed at the citizens. The idea is to gather information that can be used to monitor national and regional performance trends, and allow comparisons between countries.

The latest report entitled, “Are Our Children Learning; Literacy and Numeracy Across East Africa 2013,” is the third in the series. As has become routine in comparisons of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania on various statistics indices, the Uwezo findings have become controversial and sparked debate. The same happened when, in 2010, the UN Population Fund released a report on labour productivity in the region that claimed “six Ugandans are needed to do the job done by one Kenyan.” The same job, the report noted, would require four Tanzanians. It happened again in 2013, when a Uganda Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) report by the World Bank noted that “Ugandan doctors perform at the same level as Kenyan nurses”. In that report, the Tanzanian health service providers performed slightly lower than Ugandans.

When The Independent asked what surveys like the SDI attempt to do, Ritva Reinikka, the World Bank’s director for Human Resource Development for African Region, explained their complex aim. “It is an effort to measure the immeasurable,” she said in November 2013. She explained that SDIs attempt “to get into the quality issues on the supply side of services from the citizens’ perspective”. On education in Uganda, she noted: “We see often that primary six children are unable to read primary two paragraphs; this is quite astonishing and it indicates that pupils are not learning at school”.

The Uwezo report arrives at the same conclusion. The Uwezo report says “demonstrable learning outcomes for millions of children going to school are invisible across East Africa”. This is a sample story that Uwezo found 11% of children in Primary 7—the final year of primary education in Uganda— cannot read. “My name is Agaba. I have a friend. She is called Akello. Today my mother took us to school. She drove us in her car. It was very early in the morning. We were the first children to reach the school.”

The Uwezo administered tests are not identical but equivalent in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania based on the “curriculum expectations” of each country. In Kenya, 8% of P7 children could not read an equivalent story. Tanzania performed worst in the English test, with 48% of the pupils in P.7 failing to read the P.2 story. But then English is not the language of instruction in Tanzania; Swahili is. When Uwezo gave Tanzanian pupils the Swahili reading test, only 24% failed it. In math, or numeracy as the survey calls it, Tanzania performed best with 89% passing, Kenya followed with 85%, and Uganda was next at 84%.

Additionally, for the 2013 report, perhaps responding to the “thematic curriculum” introduced by the government in 2007, the Uwezo survey in a few districts administered some tests in local languages – Ateso, Luganda, Lunyoro-Rutoro, and Leblango. The researchers report that such peculiarities could create some “noise or non-sample error into the data”. They add that “to aid comparability across countries, only equivalent questions across surveys are included in the literacy and numeracy results”. In the end, the researchers say, the principle findings they report are not undermined. But is this really the case?

See more HERE 

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Ugandans fare badly in regional counting

Uwezo Regional Office
East African Business Week
May 17th 2014

Article by Winnie Mandela

Ugandans fare badly in regional counting

KAMPALA, Uganda – A latest numeracy and literacy report shows Uganda as the worst country in East Africa with more children in primary who lack basic reading and counting skills.

Uwezo East Africa 2013 findings show there are large differences in learning achievements among the three East African countries with Kenya performing better at 68% in both numeracy and literacy skills compared to Tanzania at 50% and Uganda at 38%. Kenya and Tanzania shared same ranking (68%) in numeracy while Uganda scored less than 50% in all competencies. According to Sara Ruto, Uwezo regional manager, although Kenya fared better than the two countries, it is home to the worst performing districts in the region demonstrated in stark inequalities.

“Many children in East Africa are not learning basic literacy and numeracy skills. Less than two out of ten pupils in the third year of primary school can read or do basic mathematics at primary two levels. By the time they reach the last year of primary school, one out of five East African children still have not acquired these (numeracy and reading) skills,” Ruto said at the launch of the report at Makerere University, Kampala last week. She said out of the assessment, among children aged  6-16 less than a third have these basic skills in the three countries she therefore called upon the government to enhance teacher capacity so as to improve the education sector. “It’s important that governments in the three countries priotize teacher motivation since its key to the children’s performances in school,” she said

The findings according to her raise questions on government’s effort to provide quality education to all Ugandans especially in schools implementing universal education intended for children, whose parents can’t afford to pay fees. Ms Ruto proposed that a lot of attention be put in improving teachers’ welfare since children spend their biggest time at school and are thus central in helping them acquire basic competencies needed in the job market. Robert Musinze the General Secretary UNATU blamed the low performance to the under financing of the sector and the imbalanced teacher to pupil ratio in most schools. He said that “motivation of teachers is key therefore governments should redefine their priorities by allocating adequate money to the education sector which will contribute to the improvement of the quality of education received. According to him, this coupled with the change in teacher training right from the teacher training institutions contributes to the improvement of education in the three countries.

Elizabeth Mutumba a senior Education officer, who represented the ministry, said a research will be conducted to inform government on how to improve on the issues raised. She said that “the findings are disappointing. The government will conduct a research and come up with what to do to improve on the learning outcomes. I have to report back to my seniors,” Mutumba said. Ms Zaida Mgalla, Uwezo Tanzania Country Coordinator, said continued lack of political will to improve the quality of education is to blame for the decline in education pass on to the children.

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Class three pupils cannot read or do basic maths

Uwezo Kenya
The Standard Digital News
May 9th 2014

By Rawlings Otieno

Kenya: Less than two out of 10 pupils in the third year of primary school can read or do basic mathematics, a new study has revealed. According to the report titled Are Our Children Learning? Literacy and Numeracy Across East Africa and released by Uwezo, children are not learning basic literacy skills. Uwezo is a four-year initiative that aims to improve competencies in literacy and numeracy among children aged between six to 16 in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The study further indicates that by the time pupils reach the last year of primary school, one out of five East African children still have not acquired the basic literacy and numeracy skills. In Kenya, six out of 10 children aged 10 to 16 possess both literacy and numeracy skills at Grade (Primary) 2 level, while in Tanzania five out of 10 do and in Uganda the figure is four out of 10.

Kenyan districts dominate the top 10 when ranking all districts in the region. However, Kenya is also home to the worst performing district in East Africa, demonstrating stark inequalities in the country. Ugandan districts, on the other hand, occupy all but one of the bottom 10 places and tend to do worse overall than the other two countries. In all three countries — Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda — children in urban areas outperform their rural peers and children from wealthier families show stronger learning outcomes than those from poorer households. Learning outcomes The report paints a grim picture that East African countries children are united by poor learning outcomes but divided by geography and wealth. The assessment reveals that most of the children are not mastering basic literacy and numeracy skills. The gap between the poorest households and the least poor is over 20 per cent points in all three countries.

To read more, please click HERE

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