WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results for Development (R4D) is leading two Rapid Feedback studies to strengthen early grade reading programs in Tanzania and Senegal. The focus of the studies is on increasing parent and community engagement in children’s learning. This is a topic of great interest to the development community, but relatively little evidence about the effectiveness of interventions in various contexts exists. The studies are funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Rapid Feedback Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (RF MERL) is a rigorous yet flexible approach for generating timely and useful data for programs in the early stages of implementation. Rapid feedback evaluations allow implementers to use context-specific and timely evidence to inform ongoing program improvement.
In Tanzania, R4D is working with the Tusome Pamoja (Let’s Read Together) program, a USAID-funded program implemented by RTI International, that aims to improve primary school children’s reading, writing and arithmetic in five regions of Tanzania. The Rapid Feedback study will focus on Tusome Pamoja’s community engagement activities which include school committee strengthening, parent-teacher partnerships, and community-led action-planning. R4D will use quantitative and qualitative methods to identify which activities are most effective at increasing parent and community engagement and how this may vary by geography, socioeconomic status, or other key community characteristics. The study will include 50 communities in five regions of Tanzania. Three rounds of data collection will allow for ongoing feedback to the USAID Mission in Tanzania and RTI International so they can adjust programming as needed. The research questions include not only which activities are most effective, but how each of the 50 communities has tailored the activities to suit its own needs and resources. Findings from the first round of data collection will be available in late summer 2018.
In Senegal, R4D will be working with the Lecture Pour Tous (Reading for All) program, a USAID-funded early grade reading program implemented by Chemonics. The Rapid Feedback study is also supported by the Global Book Alliance (GBA), an international effort involving USAID and other stakeholders working to transform book development, procurement, and distribution to ensure that no child is without books. Lecture Pour Tous is a 5-year program that supports Senegalese national reforms to use national languages in early grades to increase children’s literacy. The design of this study is currently being finalized, but its objective will be to uncover evidence on how to increase the use of books by teachers as well as family and community members to foster a habit of reading among children. Ensuring that teachers, families, and community members have the tools they need to use books to promote learning is a key priority of the GBA. In addition, the study will also examine how best to coach and support school principals and teachers to improve instruction in the classroom.
“Together, these studies will significantly enhance the education sector’s understanding of how to increase parent and community engagement,” said Molly Jamieson Eberhardt, a program director at Results for Development. “In addition to quantitative data collection on parent and community behaviors, our approach includes significant qualitative data collection. This will allow us not only to understand whether certain activities have an effect on engagement levels, but why that is the case in certain contexts and not others, and how those activities need to be implemented to ensure success. We believe this work will therefore not only benefit USAID’s early grade reading programs in Tanzania and Senegal but also be a resource to inform others’ efforts to increase parent and community engagement.”
In both Tanzania and Senegal, R4D will conduct multiple rounds of data collection and share findings with the programs via “learning checks,” in which program staff and R4D come together to reflect on the findings, brainstorm ways to refine implementation and iterate accordingly.
The evaluations are part of the Rapid Feedback Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) initiative — an initiative launched by USAID’s Global Development Lab to improve rapid learning and adaptive management in the design and implementation of activities funded by USAID. R4D leads the Rapid Feedback MERL initiative, which also includes Mathematica Policy Research, Abt Associates and the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD). To learn more about the Rapid Feedback MERL initiative, visit: R4d.org/RFMERL.
UPDATE: This announcement was updated on Feb. 27, 2018, with more information on both programs, and was originally published on Nov. 30, 2017.
About Results for Development
Results for Development (R4D) is a leading non-profit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents around the world — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — to create strong systems that support healthy, educated people. We help our partners move from knowing their goal to knowing how to reach it. We combine global expertise in health, education and nutrition with analytic rigor, practical support for decision-making and implementation and access to peer problem-solving networks. Together with our partners, we build self-sustaining systems that serve everyone and deliver lasting results. Then we share what we learn so others can achieve results for development, too. For more information, visit our website at: www.r4d.org.
Featured photo © Tobin Jones