Education results in Côte d’Ivoire show that many children do not gain foundational skills in primary school. Mandatory schooling, which the government enforced in 2015, targets children aged 6-16 years. In 2018, the gross primary school enrollment rate was 99.8%, but only 56.7% of the children completed their primary education, and the youth literacy rate did not exceed 60% according to the Programme d’analyse des systèmes éducatifs de la confemen (PASEC 2019) report.
The PASEC 2019 assessment also reveals that 59.5% of pupils do not have foundational reading skills, and 41.2% do not master the basic mathematics skills, increasing the risk of early school drop-out. In addition to low learning levels, overcrowded classrooms, and ambitious curricula, many students in Côte d’Ivoire face a language barrier. Although over 70 languages are spoken across the country and within classrooms, French is the lingua franca and the official language. As a result, many children have to learn a different language from that spoken at home.
In November 2017, the Ministry of National Education of Côte d’Ivoire partnered with J-PAL Europe, Pratham, and Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC), to adapt and pilot le Programme d’Enseignement Ciblé (PEC), the first TaRL programme ever launched in French. Teachers facilitate engaging TaRL activities in French and mathematics, for one and a half hours every day, for children from grades 3 to 6 years in formal public schools and community schools. Government mentors receive training to provide continuous support to teachers.
The TaRL pilot involved initial 50 schools in the cocoa-growing regions of Méagui and Gabiadji, supported by the Jacobs Foundation, CÉMOI, and Tony’s Chocolonely under the TRECC initiative. The pilot culminated in mid-2019 with marked improvements in learning outcomes. The proportion of children able to read a simple paragraph increased from 14 percent to 51 percent, and the proportion of children able to do a simple subtraction sum increased from 12 percent to 63 percent. These impressive results established an important proof point of the potential for TaRL to shift learning outcomes in French and Maths in Côte d’Ivoire.
In conjunction with the pilots, Innovations for Poverty Action Côte d’Ivoire were commissioned by the Jacobs Foundation to undertake an independent process evaluation. Through this process, the Ministry of Education and TRECC decided to scale the program.
The Framework for PEC implementation is defined at the national level by the government. The government’s role includes policy development, the execution, coordination, and monitoring/evaluation of all PEC activities. Also, the national government, supported by a regional team, executes, coordinates, and supervises at the regional and district levels all activities related to the implementation of the PEC. The national government also ensures coordination of PEC partners’ interventions.
Extension phase launched post successful completion of pilot
In December 2019, the extension phase of PEC was launched in over 200 schools and over 21,000 children in cocoa-growing regions of the country. The extension phase was designed to allow for the testing of government-led implementation from start to finish, and to help identify areas for further improvement as the program continues to scale up. While the extension phase activities were disrupted due to COVID-19 school closures in March 2020, activities in schools resumed as far as possible during the interim school reopening in May. Though short in duration, the extension phase allowed for large-scale testing of the Ministry’s proposed reorganized structure of implementation, and for the identification of key areas that need strengthening prior to scale up. Sample-based assessments in June 2020 showed progress in learning despite a truncated number of days of instruction.
COVID-19 response: Radio programming launched by Ministry with support from TaRL Africa
In light of the country-wise school closures in March due to COVID-19, a variety of distance and remote learning ideas were explored by the Ministry to reach children and help continue their learning. Based on experiences from Pratham’s work in India, TaRL Africa was well positioned to support the process of design on potential remote learning activities in the country. At the request of the Ministry and with support from TRECC, TaRL Africa provided technical support to the Ministry to develop a radio program, adapted from the PEC approach, and targeted all primary school children in Côte d’Ivoire. The radio program strengthened mathematics and reading skills of primary school children in a learning-friendly environment at home, involving parents, volunteers or other community members. To date, with the financial support of TRECC, 76 radio pods have been recorded, and their broadcasting on local radio stations was launched on July 6, 2020.
Looking forward: CLEF initiative launched by TRECC to support PEC scale up over five years
Through the process of the pilot and the extension phase, the Ministry of Education identified PEC as a priority programme for national scale up and formally made this commitment in early 2020. Following this decision, PEC was positioned as the core educational intervention to be scaled up with support from a new funding facility set up by the Jacobs Foundation and partners – CLEF.
In the course of the school year 2020/2021, 791 new schools were added to the PEC programme, which is now implemented in a total of 1,000 schools. Initially targeting grades 3 to 5 learners, the programme now also reaches grade 6 learners. The school year 2021/2022 will be focused on sustaining PEC activities in those 1,000 schools, before scaling up to more schools. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, PEC will be implemented in 5,000 schools in total, reaching more than 500,000 children in the country.
- Visit the TRECC website
- Read a blog post about adapting the TaRL approach to fracophone West Africa
1) Programme d’analyse des systèmes éducatifs de la confemen (PASEC) 2019. Retrieved from https://www.confemen.org/rapport-international-pasec2019/#
2) Programme d’analyse des systèmes éducatifs de la confemen (PASEC). 2014. “PASEC2014 Education System Performance in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa – competencies and learning factors in primary education.” Accessed January 11, 2019. http://www.pasec.confemen.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Rapport_Pasec2014_GB_webv2.pdf