4/16/2015 feature story
The Literacy Laboratory Project (LLP) under the Northern Uganda Literacy Program
In Uganda only 44.5% of children pass basic literacy tests. Similar to other African countries, Uganda has many problems in its education system, including undertrained teachers, lack of materials, no systems for tracking pupil performance, and lack of support from parents, communities and local officials. Since 2010 Mango Tree (MT), a private, locally owned educational tools company in Uganda, has been piloting a successful early literacy project in northern Uganda. The main goals of the MT program are increasing literacy rates, enhancing education quality through improved, effective materials and teachers, and fostering a culture of reading among pupils, parents, and communities within a cost-effective and scalable framework. The role of the Literacy Laboratory Project (LLP) is to scale up and evaluate the literacy program. The scale-up evaluates a piloted and improved model for mode of program delivery and outcomes. Under the LLP, researchers from the University of Michigan conduct a rigorous randomized control trial of the program over 4 years to measure the effectiveness of the instructional model, teacher training, support supervision innovations, literacy materials, and teaching methods in 128 schools. The study collects a rich set of pupil, parent, teacher, classroom, and school-level longitudinal data. Learning outcomes are measured principally in terms of improvements in reading and writing assessment scores. Project goals are: 1) to demonstrate that big effects on learning are possible; 2) to prove that with the right combination of training, materials, and support, teachers can effectively teach literacy – even in rural, under-resourced, overcrowded classrooms; and 3) to evaluate economic approaches to implementation at scale to determine value-for-money impacts on pupil learning and teacher performance in African schools.
Jeffrey A. Smith
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