Education actors in Côte d’Ivoire shine a spotlight on the importance of foundational skills for learners

2022 has been filled with significant events for TaRL Africa’s Côte d’Ivoire team, including the recent stakeholders’ meeting held in Abidjan on 8th December. This event was conducted with key stakeholders from the country’s education landscape with representation from the Ministry of Education (MENA), donors, and civil society organisations members including individuals from Groupe Local des Partenaires de l’Education (GLPE), comprised of organisations like Jacobs Foundation, University Agency of Francophonie (AUF), Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), and the World Bank, among others.

The stakeholders’ meeting focused on identifying and strengthening critical pathways to achieving foundational skills for children in Côte d’Ivoire. This meeting is part of RISE’s Focus to Flourish campaign, which highlights five actions to accelerate progress in learning through system transformation. These include committing to universal, early foundational learning; measuring learning regularly, reliably, and relevantly; aligning systems around learning commitments; supporting teaching; and adapting what you adopt as you implement.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the conversation about foundational literacy and numeracy is growing in tandem with government efforts to address a crisis of learning. According to the 2019 Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC) report, 59.5 percent of Ivorian children lack foundational skills in reading while 42.1 percent cannot perform basic mathematics by the time they complete primary education. Programme d’Éducation Ciblé (PEC), Côte d’Ivoire’s government-led TaRL programme, has expanded from a pilot in 50 schools in 2018 to a programme currently running in more than 1000 schools. Madeleine Adaye, the PEC National Coordinator, said “this is why the government is leveraging several interventions including PEC.” The government also plans to scale the programme at a national level, reaching at least 4000 schools by 2027. Tiamaoui Bitra, General Inspector, MENA, added “we can proudly say that PEC participates in the development of the school system in Ivory Coast.”

TaRL Africa’s Côte d’Ivoire Country Director, Amos Dembele, pointed out the need to deeply embed the TaRL approach in the government education system. “After four years of consistent and convincing results, it is urgent to scale up and accelerate the integration of PEC into pedagogical processes and practices not only in continuing education but especially in pre-service education,” he said.

Attendees also mentioned the need to accelerate the finalisation and implementation of policy processes and strategic documents such as the National Strategy for the Improvement of Primary Learnings (SNAPAS), a framework aimed at coordinating the various education interventions in the country. Delegates felt that this would facilitate better coordination between MENA and other education sector actors, and help to integrate PEC into the system as it goes to scale.

The event was also an opportunity to announce plans for launching the government’s Leaders of Practice (LoP) initiative in January 2023, with the support of TaRL Africa. The LoP initiative will foster the improvement of PEC delivery, promotion, expansion, and ownership. It will also be an important step towards creating spaces for knowledge sharing and raising community awareness.

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