Kenya: Standardizing Education to Solve Learning Poverty – Nobel Laureate

Nairobi — Education ministers, policy and business leaders and youth activists from more than 140 countries are meeting in France this week to deliberate on ways to transform education.

The work of the UNESCO Transforming Education pre-summit in Paris will include country-led national consultations, global thematic courses of action and public commitments.

The pre-summit will focus on 5 key areas of transformation including schools, quality lifelong learning, teachers, connectivity and education finance.

It will provide an open forum for countries to share key elements of their commitment to transforming education to inspire other countries to showcase bold commitments and actions at the main summit scheduled for September 2022 in New York, United States. -United.

Coming at a time when education around the world faces enormous challenges, the Summit aims to provide “a moment for education to take its rightful place on the world stage, at the top of the global agenda “, and to reverse the current slide on SDG 4.

According to the World Bank, 70% of 10-year-old children, mainly from developing countries, are today in a situation of learning poverty, defined as the inability to read and understand a simple story.

“School closures during the pandemic and uneven mitigation measures have exacerbated learning inequalities among children,” says the World Bank.

“Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are the most affected, compromising their ability to thrive in increasingly competitive labor markets and more complex societies.”

As the world grapples with the looming learning crisis, a recently published study by a Nobel Prize-winning economist seems to offer a way out.

University of Chicago Professor Michael Kremer and his team of researchers have found that a highly standardized education has the potential to generate huge learning gains.

The study conducted in Kenya by the Nobel laureate’s team found that after two years, primary school students in Bridge have almost an extra year of learning ahead of children schooled using standard methods.

For pre-primary students, children gain nearly an additional year and a half of learning.

They learn in two years what children in other schools learn in three and a half years.

The researchers also found that first graders at Bridge were more than three times more likely to be able to read than their peers at other schools.

Furthermore, they found that students starting with the lowest levels of learning gained the most, with girls making the same leap in learning as boys.

These findings confirm the science-based learning and teaching methods used by Bridge since 2009, a model that now underpins transformative public education programs supporting more than one million children a day across the country. Africa.

In Paris, delegates will engage in discussions on how to increase funding for education.

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, public spending on education has declined globally.

An estimated 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries have reduced spending on education, with an average drop in real spending of 13.5%.

Kenya has championed global efforts to provide the resources needed to enable millions of children around the world to access quality education.

The country endorsed the 2021 Call to Action on Domestic Financing and followed up on its recommendations by committing 26% of its national budget to the education sector.

President Uhuru Kenyatta called on other countries to do so by emphasizing the principles of volume, equity and efficiency.

The pre-summit will chart the way forward for education transformation, even more so in crisis contexts.

In 2021, President Kenyatta and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson co-chaired the Global Partnership for Education Summit held in London.

The two leaders rallied their counterparts to step up their efforts to deliver transformational education systems to the hundreds of millions of children currently being left behind.

President Kenyatta has urged government leaders to continue investing in education and prioritizing it through supportive policies.

At the same time, he stressed the importance of embracing digital technology and harnessing its full potential to improve and transform education.

The president said he envisions a world where every child has access to digital technology as a learning tool; as much as they want and experience the world from the comfort of their classroom or home.

In Kenya, there are school providers who practice the model that the President has been advocating on the world stage.

The Bridge International Academies have used technology to provide high quality, affordable education to children in underserved communities for over a decade and a half.

The results are impeccable, with Bridge students surpassing the national average in KCPE exams for seven consecutive years.

During the pandemic, Kenya was able to put in place a blended learning system that has kept many children engaged in their schooling.