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Introduction (a) Location, size and education system of The Gambia (b) EGRA initiative ... River Gambia is navigable - divides the country into north and south bank ...

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the gambia early grade reading assessment egra programme
The Gambia Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Programme

Presented at the Second EGRA Workshop

Held at Washington DC

12 – 14th March 2008


Baboucarr Bouy Permanent Secretary


Burama L. J. Jammeh Director of Curriculum Research, Evaluation, Development and In-service Training

Department of State for Basic and Secondary Education

The Gambia

outline of presentation
  • Introduction (a) Location, size and education system of The Gambia (b) EGRA initiative
  • Description of sample/group, time and process
  • Summary of EGRA tasks including students’ Survey/Interview
  • Summary of results from EGRA tasks showing comparison of results according to:
    • School type (Government, Mission & Private)
    • Region
    • Socioeconomic status
    • Pre-Grade 1 education (Nursery attendance)
    • Parent literacy
  • The Implications
  • Follow-up to the Assessment Activity
  • Way forward
introduction location size of the gambia
INTRODUCTION: Location & Size of The Gambia
  • The Gambia lies on the Atlantic Coast
  • It only shares boarder with Senegal
introduction contd
  • It runs in and divides Senegal into north and south
  • River Gambia is navigable - divides the country into north and south bank
introduction contd5
  • Population=1.36 million: Male 48.6% Female 51.4%

Area: 11,000sq Km

  • Conventional western system & Madrassah system
  • Nine year Basic education divided in Lower and Upper Basic
      • Age group 7 – 12 yrs Lower Basic
      • Age group 13 – 15 yrs. Upper Basic
  • Three years of senior secondary ( Age group 16 – 18 yrs)
  • Four years University


Sch. Type / level LBS UBS SSSTotal

No. of Schools 406 150 53 609

No. of Teachers 4956 1288 595 6839

No. of Students 182,627 64,392 26,600 273,619


  • Number of Registered Schools = 199
  • Enrolment = 60,334
  • No. of teachers = 1,321
introduction to egra
  • Started with our acceptance of a World Bank invitation for the Gambia’s participation in the EGRA pilot phase
  • At a time of great concern for pupils’ inability to read even at the level of Grade 7
  • A team of six officers (including the Permanent Secretary) joined Senegalese team in Dakar (16th -21st April 2007) for training, reviewing and adaptation of the EGRA protocol (assessment instrument) developed by RTI.
  • From Dakar, The Gambian team identified additional 14 officials (adding up to 20) to constitute a National EGRA Team
  • In country training, further adaptation, piloting and finalisation of EGRA protocols was facilitated by Dr. Amber Gove of RTI
  • The training, among other things, included participatory discussions on modification of the protocols, survey questionnaires & methodology, data coding, pre-testing/piloting and preliminary data analysis using the pilot results.
  • Higher level of consultations throughout the exercise
description of sample group time and process
  • 1200 children in Grades 1, 2 and 3 in 40 schools corresponding to 10% of the total number of Lower Basic/Basic cycle schools across the country
  • 40 schools, selected by (a) stratified (to ensure that all types and categories of schools - public, mission and private schools) are represented and (b) random methods (to ensure that the schools have equal chance to be selected).
  • The Sample consist of 34 public, 2 private, 4 mission schools
  • 1200 students, 30 per school (10 per grade)
  • Administered by 20 Gambian Education Sector Personnel, Teacher Training College and other staff who participated in 5 days of training/adaptation (9 for Team Leaders),+2 days of pre-tests
  • 5 Teams of 4 persons including 3 enumerators and one team leader –all with a written and agreed contractual mandate and responsibilities
  • Administrative coordinator: The Permanent Secretary (Mr Baboucarr Bouy)
  • EGRA Expert: Amber Gove
  • National counterpart: Director of Curriculum (Burama Jammeh)
the assessment tasks scoring
  • Pre-reading skills
    • Text Direction: The score is determined by the students finger placement on the correct place to start reading and his/her finger movement towards correct direction for reading a text
    • Knowledge of letters/alphabet name. Score calculated by the number of correct letters named by a student per minutes
  • Phonemic Awareness Tasks
    • Identification task: students to pronounce each sound of a spoken word. The scores were calculated by the number of phonemescorrectly identified
    • Counting Task: students are asked to provide the number of sounds included in set of words. The scores were calculated by the sum of correct phonemes correctly pronounced or sounded out.
  • Tasks on Reading skills
    • Familiar word reading ofa list of familiar words selected from early grade reading materials. The score determined by counting the number of correct words a student can read aloud in a minute
    • Pseudo word (invented words)reading of a list of 50 pseudo words. The score was calculated by counting the number of pseudo words a student can read aloud correctly in one minute.
    • Word reading in context: A student is asked to read one short narrative paragraph. The score was calculated by counting the number of words a student can read aloud correctly in one minute.
the tasks and scores
  • Comprehension Task (Reading and listening comprehension)
    • Reading comprehension :Student is asked to read text aloud after which was asked five simple questions on the passage. The score was the number of questions answered correctly
    • Listening Comprehension: Student is asked to aloud text similar to the one used to assess reading comprehension and was asked three simple questions about the passage. The score was the number of questions answered correctly.
  • Task on Spelling skills: the examiner reads a short sentence then asked student to write down the spelling. The score was determined by spelling of two key words, spacing between words, direction of the writing, capitalisation and punctuation

STUDENTS’ SURVEY/INTERVIEW: Include students’ respond to questions concerning:

  • Cultural and linguistic environment (e.g. home language & parents’ literacy
  • Socio-economic Situation (SES) variable created based on the total number of yes responses for 14 items including e.g. presence of articles in the home such as water taps, electricity, refrigerators, televisions, fixed-line telephones; and ownership of a car, bike, or mobile phone.
    • The two SES categories provided in the analysis are:
      • lower SES category (SES scores lower than 8) and
      • Higher SES category (scores equal to or more than 8)

The result presented here provides a snapshot of the reading ability in our schools including:

  • School types variations – Government, Mission & Private
  • Comparison of results in the six Regions (see map in next slide)
  • Comparison of results by socioeconomic status
  • Comparison of results by gender
  • The effect of nursery school attendance
  • Comparison or result by parents literacy

Note: The first two (School & regional comparison) were analysed by Gambians trained by Dr. Amber Gove of RTI. Such comparisons are important for our local intervention strategies

knowledge of text direction pre reading skills
Knowledge of Text Direction & Pre-reading skills

Text Direction

  • Finger placement 88%
  • Finger movement 87%

Comparison of Results by Nursery School Attendance (Means andStandard Deviation (STD) of EGRA Tasks) The nursery school attendance was found to have a systematic positive effect

the implications for education

For educational policy,

  • The relevance of EGRA protocol for assessments over other assessments
  • Teacher Training to address the main characteristics of the English orthography as well as both the English phonological system and the phonological system of the children’s home language
  • To develop reading materials including only very frequent and simple words with, as much as possible, regular Grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC).
  • Nursery school attendance found to have positive effect on the subsequent reading capacity of the children
  • The main basic reading and reading-related skills to be assessed as early as possible - latest, by the end of the first year of primary school for teachers to identify children with severe reading difficulties, for which remedial programs could be developed

The Implications for future EGRA applications

  • Lessons from the first attempt to be used as a base for improvements on EGRA protocols
  • To develop a test to assess the vocabulary level of the children.
  • Arabic to be listed as a language spoken at home
follow up to the assessment activity
  • A task force consisting of senior officials on interventions to curb reading inabilities in schools
  • Review workshop held to:
    • identify reading gaps in instructional materials of schools and teacher training college curricula
    • identify best practices on the teaching of reading at early grades in the country
  • Handbook on Teaching Early Grade Reading Abilities (EGRA) produced for training of teachers
  • Teacher Training: About 3000 teachers, incl. head teachers, senior teachers, Grades 1 – 3 teachers and cluster monitors trained using the Handbooks
  • Jolly Phonics programme initiated and more training scheduled for March (this month)

The Gambia intend to continue the interventions already started

  • Revise and update the Early Grade Reading Ability (EGRA) Handbook base on the comments received and to integrate Jolly Phonics
  • Use the revised handbook to replicate the nationwide training of teachers
  • Revised Grades 1 to 3 English Language text books to incorporate the content of a revised EGRA Handbook to ensure sustainable phonemic awareness
  • Train teachers on EGRA protocols to facilitate their use of EGRA for diagnostic, instructional, monitoring and remedial purposes in classroom
  • Further assessment be conducted using the envisaged revised instrument/EGRA protocols with a view to assessing impact of our interventions to curb reading inabilities
  • EGRA protocols be designed for the five main national language in order to reinforce the use of these languages in teaching and learning process
  • Electronic cassettes are needed for correct pronunciation of letter sounds in order to increase phonemic awareness of teachers, pupils and parents
  • Study methods of setting standards for reading & the way mechanics of reading is addressed in the curriculum of successful countries
  • Adequate funding is crucial for the realisation of this way forward
  • The Gambia’s size & situation makes it suitable for comprehensive experiments and impact assessment