New project to strengthen early grade literacy skills in Morocco
July 19, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new early grade reading and writing program will support the Government of Morocco to develop a national literacy program to improve literacy skills in grades 1 through 4, Creative Associates International announced.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and led by Creative Associates International, the Reading for Success – National Program for Reading will support the development of quality Arabic language reading materials.
Reading for Success – National Program for Reading aims to improve classroom instruction; expand remedial and extra-curricular reading opportunities at school, at home and in the community; and improve national learning and assessment systems for reading and writing.
Starting with focused support of more than 8,500 schools in the regions of Fez-Meknes, Rabat-Kenitra, Souss-Massa and Oriental, the USAID program aims to equip the Moroccan government with the expertise and tools to replicate, scale up and sustain early grade literacy in all 12 regions across the country.
Partnering with the Ministry of National Education, Professional Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, Creative will help to establish a reading-supportive policy, investment and programmatic framework, backed by an informed analysis of reading assessments and evidence-based best practices supported by years of on-the-ground collaboration.
“We’re pleased to build on a successful history of collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training and local partners in improving child and youth learning and to make a positive impact in Morocco’s schools, families and communities,” says Karen Tietjen, Director of Instructional Systems and Governance at Creative.
In recent years, Morocco has made great improvements in advancing quality education. However, with only 77 percent of Moroccan youth ages 15 to 24 literate, the country continues to face literacy barriers.
Evidence shows the problem starts in the early primary grades. On the 2011 Progress in International Literacy Study, Moroccan Grade 4 students scored the lowest among 45 participating countries.
Poor reading skills contribute to the high repetition and dropout rates in primary school and undermine the academic performance of students who remain in school. Most children enter primary school unfamiliar with Modern Standard Arabic, the language of instruction.
Few early grade teachers are trained to teach reading and lack appropriate materials and techniques. Unfortunately, not all parents are involved in reading support, and few out-of-school opportunities exist for students to practice and enjoy reading.
To tackle these challenges, Creative is implementing the Reading for Success – National Program for Reading program in partnership with organizations recognized for their expertise in early grade reading, measurement and assessment and digital delivery of education programs. These partners include the University of Oregon, Management Systems International and Al-Akhawayn University.
A legacy of effective partnership
The Reading for Success – National Program for Reading program builds on previous successful partnerships between Creative and the Moroccan government that delivered quality education and addressed a wide range of educational barriers. These programs have refined reading instruction, bolstered teacher professional development and strengthened institutions.
“Creative has a deep understanding of Morocco’s education sector by implementing programs in the country for over three decades,” says Abdelkader Ezzaki, Ph.D., Program Manager for the Reading for Success – National Program for Reading. “The program will deliver innovative approaches to reading and writing that will have positive, sustainable outcomes for Morocco’s education system.”
In the early 2000s, Creative implemented the USAID-funded Morocco Education for Girls Project that supported the Ministry of Education’s gender strategy.
Under the five-year Improving Training for Quality Advancement in National Education project, Creative worked with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to improve the professional skills of middle school teachers and stem the tide of dropouts by expanding school-level support and developing more relevant teacher training curriculum and improved delivery.
The project supported the in-service professional development of more than 3,000 teachers and more than 4,400 newly recruited teacher trainers received pre-service coursework. Creative’s team also designed and piloted the middle school reading program, working with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and regional education centers to develop reading kits for subject teachers, train a core group of master trainers and assess student learning outcomes.
Building on the middle school reading pilot, Creative implemented the Reading for Academic Skills and Individual Development in Middle Schools project with Morocco’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to help middle school students improve literacy skills for subject learning, strengthen teacher capacity to integrate reading comprehension methods into their content areas, and enhance teacher training and coaching programs for reading.
The project addressed specific needs of adolescent learners, such as low motivation and late-emergent reading problems, provided evidence-based reading instruction, and changed management to orient trainers to new roles and responsibilities. Through the project, students’ performance in reading improved over time, showing a 13.68 percent increase in reading test scores.
In addition to helping to secure gains in education, Creative implemented the four-year Promise Pathway project, which provided safe and productive employment alternatives for youth of legal working age, through vocational training and referral assistance that linked jobseekers with a network of service providers.
The Promise Pathways project provided services to more than 3,000 children ages 6 to 14 and over 1,300 youth ages 15 to 17, helping them find opportunities for education and safe employment and supporting their families to regain stability.
Most recently in 2016 to 2017, Creative supported the USAID-Human and Institutional Capacity Development assessment of the Ministry of National Education capacities in the areas of school management, extra-curriculum and student evaluation.