01 Jun 2015

Bringing Learning to Light (R4D evaluation of Uwezo)


The role of citizen-led assessments in shifting the education agenda

  • Region


  • Topic


  • Priority area

    Child Health & Development

  • Report Type

    Evaluations and partner reports

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[text taken from document]

“Are children learning?” is a question that should inform all education policy-making. Yet in many countries, the answer to this question has remained largely unknown. The pursuit of an answer lies at the heart of the citizen-led assessment movement.

As governments and donors focused on increasing access in the wake of the Millennium Development Goals, the issue of learning received comparatively little concerted attention. Some organizations working in countries where access was rapidly increasing took notice of the fact that, while rising enrollment rates were being celebrated, there was little evidence of whether or not learning was taking place. One of the results of this realization was the emergence of the citizen-led assessment movement, initiated by Pratham in India in 2005. The movement is an attempt by civil-society organizations to gather evidence on learning and use it for two main purposes: first, to increase awareness of low learning outcomes and second, to stimulate actions that are intended to address the learning gap.

Today, ten years after the first citizen-led assessment was conducted, it is widely anticipated that the Sustainable Development Goals that will be announced in September 2015 will include a goal that addresses learning. The inclusion of such a goal raises the challenge of measuring learning outcomes in a manner that is both country-relevant and globally-applicable. Debates over how to do so have brought attention to various models of national learning assessments, including citizen-led assessments, which are now being undertaken in nine countries.

This innovative approach to assessment has attracted interest and raised questions about the potential for non-traditional assessments to play a role in not only monitoring learning but also advocating for more focus on educational outcomes within countries and at the international level. In an effort to more deeply understand the nuts and bolts of the citizen-led assessment model and to evaluate its ability to measure learning, disseminate findings, and stimulate awareness and action, Results for Development Institute (R4D) evaluated four citizen-led assessments between May 2013 and November 2014: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in India, Beekunko in Mali, Jàngandoo in Senegal, and Uwezo in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.