Department of Economics

Working Paper #2013-03 – Improving Early-Grade Literacy in East Africa: Experimental Evidence from Kenya and Uganda

Department of Economics
University of Delaware
Working Paper #2013-03

Improving Early-Grade Literacy in East Africa:

Experimental Evidence from Kenya and Uganda

Adrienne M. Lucas,  Patrick J. McEwan, Moses Ngware and Moses Oketch

ABSTRACT

Primary school enrollments have increased rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa, spurring concerns about low levels of learning. We analyze field experiments in Kenya and Uganda that assessed whether the Reading to Learn program, implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation in both countries, improved early-grade literacy as measured by common assessments. We find that Ugandan literacy (in Lango) increased by 0.2σ. We find a smaller effect (0.08σ) on a Kenyan literacy test in Swahili. We find no evidence that differential effects are explained by baseline differences in students or classrooms, or by implementation fidelity. We conclude that differences between countries can likely be attributed to differential effective exposure to the literacy treatment in the tested languages. Students in Kenya were tested in Swahili, which is not necessarily the primary language of instruction, despite official policy.

JEL Codes: I2, O15, H52

 

Keywords: education, literacy, teacher training, Kenya, Uganda, randomized controlled trial

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