Systems implications for core instructional support lessons from Sobral (Brazil), Puebla (Mexico), and Kenya

Author(s): Crouch, Luis

Date: 2020

Pages: 34 p.

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One reason education systems struggle to address the learning crisis is that the quality of the sub-systems (curricular design and lesson plans, textbook design, assessment tools, and teacher coaching and support) is often low, and in some cases missing altogether. Just as importantly, though, the coherence among these “core” sub-systems is often missing. They are typically overseen by different agencies or units within the same ministry, with varying priorities and varying degrees of success in coordination. In the context of these coherence and support challenges, there are several promising examples of how national and sub-national governments in low- and middle-income countries have aligned their sub-systems. These governments are either seeing rapid improvements in learning outcomes or are sustaining learning levels that are better than their peers. Their education systems have worked to build coherence across their systems. The cases are the Sobral municipality in the state of Ceará, Brazil; the state of Puebla, in Mexico; and Kenya. In all of these cases, data suggest that the systems have improved performance relatively recently or have historically tended to perform above what one would expect based on context, or generally have a reputation for excellence and innovativeness in their country or region. The case studies in this document highlight five tips that may be beneficial to other countries or situations: 1) Focus on just a very few achievable indicators, foregrounding foundational learning, for a country emphasising learning. 2) Use data to drive both initial “wake-up” and stock taking but also to support teaching as the process goes along. 3) Emphasis on the teaching by the teachers who are already in place. 4) Provide strong motivation through support that works. 5) Use tight management so there is some degree of centralism and prescriptiveness as to pedagogy and other inputs, but after having iterated and adapted to context.

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