The Asia Foundation and USAID Share Evaluation Findings for All Children Reading Literacy Project
Dili, November 24, 2014 — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Asia Foundation held a national seminar in Dili to present the findings of the USAID-funded “All Children Reading” project’s final evaluation report. The purpose of the event was to share findings from the report with stakeholders including the Ministry of Education, donor organizations, and international and local organizations working in the area of literacy.
The All Children Reading project, which was implemented in Timor-Leste by The Asia Foundation and its local partners Alola Foundation and Institutu Mary Mackillop, sought to improve children’s literacy outcomes through the production of innovative booklets and literacy resource packs such as stimulus pictures and flashcards, as well as teacher training and workshops for parents. The project reached its conclusion with the conduct of the final evaluation exercise. Independently carried out by an external evaluator, the evaluation assessed the effectiveness and impact of project activities on children’s literacy skills, and was conducted during a 25-day period where the evaluator observed and interviewed 13 teachers and assessed 63 students from 5 districts.
Findings from the evaluation have been very encouraging and demonstrate that children whose teachers were involved in the project activities have seen significant improvement in their reading skills. Compared with the 2010 Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) baseline, the findings show that an additional 20% of children in Grade One are able to read a simple word. Children in Grade Two and Three also demonstrated improved scores with 2% and 16% increases respectively. More importantly, the findings show that the greatest contributing factor to this improvement has been the shift in teaching practices that these teachers apply in their classroom, which puts greater emphasis on student engagement rather than using a traditional authoritarian style. Tests on numeracy skills revealed that 77% of the evaluated students were also able to resolve simple arithmetic problems.
Director General for Basic Education, Cidalio Leite acknowledged that literacy remains a serious issue in Timor-Leste. Mr. Leite thanked USAID and The Asia Foundation for sharing learnings from the All Children Reading project and asked all involved to continue supporting the country’s education sector.
Country Representative for the Foundation, Susan Marx remarked that the Foundation is pleased with the outcomes of the project in helping address gaps in teaching capacity, which is an ongoing challenge in a country where only 40% of teachers are nationally qualified. She further added that “resource materials such as books and other teaching aids are a luxury in Timor-Leste and the accrued benefits of books, flashcards and stimulus pictures produced under this project are an important step in assisting teachers and helping children to develop literacy skills they will need in the future.”
In his remarks, USAID Mission Director John Seong stated “over the last two years, USAID has been supporting The Asia Foundation and its partners, the Alola Foundation and Mary Mackillop Institute to implement the All Children Reading project to improve children’s literacy and numeracy skills. I want to congratulate The Asia Foundation, Alola Foundation and MMI for their fine contributions to make this happen. I also hope that lessons learned from this project and the resource packs produced will continue to be used in schools and homes.”
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