TEACHING AT THE RIGHT LEVEL

Botswana

Teaching at the Right Level has the potential to transform education in Botswana.

Background

While Botswana ranks highly on access to education, learning lags behind. In recent Southern African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ) and UNESCO reports Botswana ranked above Tanzania and Kenya on access, yet fell short of both neighbours on learning.1 2

A recent citizen-led assessment of basic literacy and numeracy in two regions found striking gaps in learning: 32% of standard 5 students could not do subtraction, and 88% could not do division. 43.5% could not read a story in English, and a fifth of students could not read a paragraph. Students are falling multiple grade levels behind without acquiring the basic skills. There is a clear need for interventions that improve learning.

Partnership

The policy environment is ripe for action. The Botswana Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) has identified a need for evidenced-based strategies to assess and improve learning levels.

Young 1ove has built a strong coalition around Teaching at the Right Level in Botswana. This includes the Ministry of Basic Education, which has signed a multi-year MOU to scale-up TaRL nationally and dubbed TaRL one of its core interventions; the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, which has committed to engaging National Service Program participants, to deliver TaRL in dedicated fashion; the Ministry of Finance, which has indicated interest in allocating resources to support scale; UNICEF, which has signed a 5-year Partnership Cooperation Agreement to provide technical support; and the University of Botswana, which has collected numeracy and literacy data and engaged government.

Young 1ove is also the Innovation Hub for an Africa-wide effort to scale TaRL in partnership with Pratham and J-PAL, and working in partnership with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution as a Real-time Scaling Lab. Young 1ove aims to share lessons from its work as an innovation hub with the wider TaRL Africa Community of Practice.

TaRL Model

The intervention runs for 30-days for 1-2 hours a day and is implemented with Standards 3-5, through two models: a direct delivery model with young, independently hired facilitators and a government-led delivery model. The two are synergistic, with the direct delivery model serving as an innovation hub and the government model as a route for sustainable scale. The end vision is for both models to achieve impact and stimulate demand at the grassroots level for TaRL principles to be incorporated into day-to-day teaching and learning.

Latest Results

To date, TaRL has reached 10% of primary schools and over 5,000 students in 3 regions in Botswana. Young 1ove has also trained 95 National Service participants who have implemented TaRL in three regions.

The results have remained strong with 80% of students gaining numeracy skills and the percentage of students learning division jumping from just 7% to 52%.

The impact goes beyond numbers. One TaRL student reflected on the programme saying:

“It helped me because some of us did not understand some things taught in our class but TaRL taught us what we did not understand.”

Young 1ove has demonstrated a strong direct delivery implementation model. In 2020, TaRL partners will include a literacy component and simplify the implementation model to enable government-led scale-up. Over the next 3-5 years, Young 1ove is on track to reach all primary schools in the country.

Three children watch as one child writes on the floor with chalk. Teaching at the Right Level materials (sticks tied in bundles) are on the floor next to them.
Children use bundles and sticks to solve a mathematics sum in a TaRL classroom in Botswana.

Photo: Young 1ove

RESOURCES

Interested in learning more about TaRL in Botswana?

REFERENCES

1) Southern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality. (2007). SACMEQ-III Project. Botswana. Retrieved from http://www.sacmeq.org/?q=publications

2) UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (n.d). Gross intake ratio in first grade of primary education, total (% of relevant age group). Retrieved from http://uis.unesco.org/country/BW