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(July 2009) Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International is conducting a baseline reading assessment project in four languages of Kenya: English, Kikuyu, Kiswahili and Luo. Agatha van Ginkel, Ph.D., SIL Africa Area Consultant for Education and Development, and Leila Schroeder, M.A., SIL International Literacy and Education Consultant, are assisting in the initial event, a training workshop in Kenya, 20–24 July.
Over the past year and a half, RTI has developed the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) instrument. This simple, low-cost instrument is having a significant and positive impact, raising awareness among countries and communities regarding the importance of achievement in the early grades, prompting several countries to take action.
In Kenya, under a collaboration between the Ministry of Education, RTI International, Aga Khan Foundation, Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya and USAID, the assessment was used to great success in improving early grade reading instruction and achievement. The Hewlett Foundation and East African Development Education Communication are sponsoring the current project, which will present its findings to communities and the government at analytical workshops in order to inform the country's decisions around mother-tongue-first instruction as it impacts early reading outcomes.
In addition to field testing the EGRA, workshop participants are discussing critical components of a similar methodology for assessing early grade mathematics proficiency. They are also providing input for adapting the resulting mathematics assessment tool into the same four languages of Kenya: English, Kikuyu, Kiswahili and Luo.