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Quality education in West and Central Africa: First issue of the ERNWACA Outreach Journal

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Quality education in West and Central Africa: First issue of the ERNWACA Outreach Journal

The  ERNWACA Outreach Journal, highlights research and experiences in improving the quality of education in West and Central Africa.

The Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa (ERNWACA) was founded in 1989 to promote educational research in its 16 member countries. The Network leads research projects, offers training opportunities, and hosts international forums on educational research. Now, with the addition of an outreach journal, the Network is further advancing educational research in the region by disseminating brief research articles written in plain language that are accessible to the public.

With contributions from seven countries—Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, and Togo—the journal gives a sense of the conditions and preoccupations of the education systems in a wide swath of the region. Reflecting these regional concerns, as well as the current international education goals, the first issue of the journal focuses on improving educational quality.

The linkage between teacher training and quality education is explored in a number of articles. Said Abouhanifa, of the Centre Régional des Métiers de l’Education et de la Formation in Morocco, presents findings from a small study on mathematics teacher candidates engaged in teaching practice. Most interestingly, the research methods employed in the study encouraged aspiring teachers to develop a reflective action research orientation by teaching them to systematically observe and evaluate each other’s teaching.

Akimou Tchagnaou and Bahama Baoutou, of the Institut National des Sciences de l’Education, Université de Lomé in Togo, investigate the hypothesis that teachers with the appropriate pedagogical qualifications offer better quality instruction than their untrained counterparts, finding a particularly significant difference in the frequency of use of formative assessments to gauge student comprehension.

Bi Sehi Antoine Mian, a student researcher at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Abidjan, discusses the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in Ivory Coast’s distance training system for teachers. Faced with limited internet access, methods such as distributing USB drives pre-loaded with educational materials and communications via text message (SMS) are being used. It is clear that teachers will have difficulty supporting the development of students’ digital literacy when their own training is still limited by such constraints.

On the topic of learning outcomes, Armelle Oga and Bio Goura Soule, of the Laboratoire d’Analyse Régionale et d’Expertise Sociale in Benin, discuss a study contrasting results on two measures of student achievement: the department examinations leading to a secondary education diploma, and a national assessment of French and mathematics.

Bourema Konate, of the Université des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Bamako, identifies weaknesses in the assessment practices of teachers in Mali, arguing that the country needs a dedicated national assessment policy and greater emphasis in pre-service teacher training on how to evaluate learning outcomes.

Other issues investigated in the journal include the impact of a new classification system for university degrees on the quality of teacher training in Gabon, strategies employed by Francophone teachers in Cameroon for delivering instruction in English, and challenges encountered integrating religious institutions into the official national education system in Ivory Coast.

The strengths of the ERNWACA Outreach Journal are reflected in the diversity of researchers, institutions, and countries represented, and in the accessible language and format of the research briefs. With further efforts to develop the journal and solicit contributions from throughout the region, we hope that it will become a venue for disseminating even more ambitious studies of education quality in the future.

A full copy of Issue 1 of the ERNWACA Outreach Journal can be accessed here (in French only). For more information about ERNWACA, see http://www.ernwaca.org.