Uwezo has chosen to focus on educational assessment (i.e. a simple measure of children’s literacy and numeracy levels) as a key trigger for public action; the household as the initial point of democratization of access to information, and public debate as a key driver of civic and policy change. We anticipate that over time, the communication of actual literacy and numeracy levels will lead to a realization among the public and policymakers that schooling is not enabling children to gain skills, which in turn will lead to a greater concern with how children can learn.
It is our hope that conducting assessments in the household environment, coupled with immediate feedback of information will motivate parents, children and teachers to take practical actions that enhance learning. Nationwide, the broad sharing of findings and ensuing debate in the media will puncture the easy conflation of enrolment and classrooms with education, creating public pressure for action. The idea is that broad public concern will compel ministries of education and other government leaders to prioritize the issue of learning and take appropriate actions. Uwezo will not push for a standard set of reforms in each country, or itself undertake nor coordinate the policy development actions of others. Rather we will seek to create an open environment in which different actors can draw on our work, determine the best course of action and take the work forward.
The large conceptual, policy and practice change Uwezo seeks cannot be brought by one organization or individual alone, however effective; that is why an environment in which many actors can ‘own’ the issue, innovate responses and drive it forward is essential. In this open approach, the exact form of the changes that will take place in each country (and within countries, in districts and communities) will vary depending on context, such as uptake of the issues by third parties, levels of leadership, set-up and openness to change of educational institutions, depth of access to information, and availability of specific political opportunities to effect change.