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People's Action for Learning Network (PAL Network): from assessment to action

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People's Action for Learning Network (PAL Network): from assessment to action

The People's Action for Learning Network (PAL Network) upends the usual mechanisms for learning assessments: bringing together nine countries[1], it assesses basic reading and numeracy competencies of all children, in their homes, through annual citizen-led assessments[2]

The Network met in Saly (Senegal) in February 2016 with a goal of capitalizing on best practices concerning the impact of actions coming from citizen-led assessments. The workshop's first day was organized around round tables and other working groups, providing the occasion for partners to exchange ideas on concrete solutions that would allow an optimal use of citizen-led assessments by education systems.[3]

Collaboration, national appropriation and availability of quality data

Two things were observed: 1) the results of citizen-led assessments are used more and more to inform educational policies and 2) these assessments have caused communities to be aware that educational quality is just as important as access to education. In India, for example, the annual publication of school reports and the management of ASER assessments at the local level have improved the management of the schools. Just as in Pakistan, where the citizen-led assessments have allowed development of Sector Plans over four years at the provincial level, informed by the results of ASER assessments. In Kenya (Uwezo) and Senegal (Jangandoo), some examples of remedial actions also show the effectiveness of increased involvement by all for better care of local needs: construction of toilets for the students, raising awareness for local town halls, resource centres for children with reading problems, reinforcing partnerships at all levels of involvement.

Among the important messages that we will remember from this first day is the necessity of a broader partnership to better harmonize existing national initiatives, especially among researchers. The quality and availability of assessment data, as well as a better appropriation by the ministries of local level assessment mechanisms in performing national level assessments, are also sine qua non conditions, noted by all the partners present, including Joseph Pierre Ndiaye, Chief of staff at the Ministry of Education [S1] of the Education Ministry of Senegal, the director of the UNICEF Bureau in Senegal, Laylee Moshiri, and the representative of the national USAID bureau, Michelle Barrett.  The development of capacity, the need for diversified skills, a more sustained system of monitoring and assessment all during the process and the value of comparisons at the national and international level were cited by the Hewlett Foundation representative, the ISU-UNESCO director, Sylvia Montoya, as well as the representative of Dubai CARES, Sinda Ouestani. Action research allows a better understanding of the effect of factors by identification of the real, localized problems from the learning. Mamadou Ndoye, a consultant and former Minister of Education of Senegal, underlined that it is necessary for more efficient use of assessments, which are too often ineffective despite efforts made for them. 


ASER India: impact on public opinion and planning

It is difficult to analyze the direct impact of citizen-led assessments. However, with the benefit of some ten years of experience with them, ASER India has observed behavioural changes concerning the question of the quality of education at both the local community level, as well as the international level.

Wide national and regional media coverage of the assessments done have facilitated the visibility of the question of student learning and have showed clearly the necessity to study their results. ASER India has also had an acknowledged impact on the preparation of the education system’s policy and planning documents, such as the Sector Plan, the Annual Action Plan and the national economic survey.  In certain states, such as Bihar, instruction objectives were adjusted, depending on the levels obtained in the ASER assessments and, just as in Rajasthan, independent surveys were indexed on the same test model.

These impacts have also contributed to a better visibility by the international community of citizen-led assessments. References to the ASER India assessments can also be found in the 11th Education for All Monitoring Report, during the World Bank Symposium on “Assessment for Global Learning”, in the Learning Metrics Task Force initiative (Brookings Institution/UNESCO) or in the Save the Children paper “The Right to Learn”.


A blog on the same subject:


[1]India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mali, Mexico

[2]For further details, see

[3]Partners attending:  Hewlett Foundation, UNICEF, USAID, Dubai Cares, IRD, ISU


Contributed by : Odile Simon