Abt Associates to Help Improve Literacy for More than 3 Million Malawi Children

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New contract expands company’s educational expertise internationally

Abt Associates will refine Malawi’s early-grade reading assessment system, improving educational outcomes for the country’s estimated 3.6 million primary school students. Under the four-year “Assess the Learners” project with USAID, Abt and the Malawi government will work to enable and empower the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), teachers and communities to assess and support early-grade literacy.

Since school fees were eliminated in 1994, enrollment in Malawi schools has increased dramatically to near 100 percent--with more than 100 students assigned to some teachers. Unfortunately, the quality and volume of educational resources has not kept pace with enrollment, and recent assessments have shown dramatic underperformance by students. In response, the Malawi government implemented a National Reading Program and increased its commitment to strengthen existing assessment mechanisms to better identify gaps in students’ knowledge and target resources appropriately.

Abt will support MoEST by institutionalizing a multi-level reading assessment system and capacity-building program to evaluate students and provide a continuum for effective instruction and improved outcomes. Together with information and communications technology partner SoukTel, Abt will develop a system to make the inputting and dissemination of national reading assessment (NRA) data, results and other indicators timely, easy to use, and accessible via a mobile platform and voice system. The system will allow parents, local community members, teachers and MoEST staff to collect, access and understand data online or via voice messaging, ensuring connectivity no matter their literacy levels.

Finally, Abt will build the internal capacity of MoEST staff and transfer responsibility to them so they can successfully carry out all activities once the project is completed. This includes designing an innovative incentive system to ensure sustainable demand for--and use of--early grade reading assessment data well into the future.

“Literacy and education are two of the most fundamental building blocks of Abt’s goal to move people from vulnerability to security,” said Abt Principal Associate Justin D. Baer, Ph.D. “We’re excited to collaborate with USAID to improve the education of Malawi’s children by bringing our expertise in early reading, monitoring, evaluation and learning to this effort.”

About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is an engine for social impact, dedicated to moving people from vulnerability to security. Harnessing the power of data and our experts’ grounded insights, we provide research, consulting and technical services globally in the areas of health, environmental and social policy, technology and international development. http://www.abtassociates.com

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Amy Dunaway
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