Capacity Building in Africa for Monitoring Learning Outcomes


COVID-19 has disrupted the education of 1.6 billion children and university students worldwide and there are fears that these disruptions have further exacerbated the global learning crisis. The Monitoring the Impacts of COVID-19 on Learning Outcomes (MILO) Project was designed to assess the impact of the pandemic on children’s learning outcomes in 6 sub-Saharan African countries: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal and Zambia.

One of the objectives of the MILO project was to develop the capacity of countries to monitor learning. Having strong assessment systems in place is key to tracking learning over time and assessing and responding to changes in children’s learning outcomes, for example, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Project implementation has therefore been leveraged to build the sustainable capacity of national assessment teams to develop, implement and use data from large-scale learning assessments for education system monitoring.

A UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) project, MILO was funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) was the technical partner, with support from the Global Center for Education Monitoring (GEM), a long-term strategic partnership between ACER and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) from the Australian Government. Technical and implementation support for the project was provided by CONFIRM.

In addition to capacity building, which was an integral part of the MILO project, ACER offered two learning modules. Initial consultations with participating countries revealed the need for capacity building in the areas of item development, psychometric methodology and data analysis. Based on these needs and the offer of the GEM Center Principles of good practice in the evaluation of learninga continuation of 7 modules in these areas have been outlined and proposed to the national centers concerned.

In line with ACER’s collaborative and needs-based approach to capacity building, each national center was asked to rank the 7 modules according to their greatest need. The 2 training modules were then selected based on the ranking of country needs:

  • Module 1: High Quality Assessment Items: Item Development
    • 1a: Reading
    • 1b: Mathematics
  • Module 2: Psychometric methods: introduction to the measurement of education

The modules were delivered through a combination of live interactive online sessions and self-paced learning. The small groups allowed participants to engage in in-depth discussions, learn from each other and work with counterparts from other countries. Participants were also encouraged to share their learnings with their teams. Materials were provided in English and French, with online sessions delivered simultaneously in both languages ​​with the support of interpreters.

Feedback collected through an online survey indicated that participants found the modules useful, as they gave them important practical skills that could easily be applied to learning assessments conducted in their country. Many participants also appreciated the opportunity to share their experiences across countries and were impressed by the expertise of the facilitators and the experiences of other participants.

“The capacity building experience for Kenya was really appreciated. It has been continuous at each phase of the project, starting from the development of the instrument. Refining the contextual tools in line with global best practices gave us hands-on training,” said Dr. Asumpta K. Matei of the Kenya Examination Council.

Additionally, education stakeholders received ongoing support for project implementation in their country, including overall project management and data management training on Maple, the data management platform. from ACER.

As Dr Matei explained, “The training on project management for us, for myself, as a national project manager, was solid and provided quality follow-up which really strengthened my ability to manage such projects.

Participants also engaged in a standardization exercise to locate the Minimum skill levels (MPL) for reading and math on the MILO assessment scale and ultimately allowed countries to determine whether children met the minimum requirements.

The learning modules delivered under the MILO project have helped build the capacity of national and regional education actors to measure and track changes in learning outcomes following major disruptions, such as COVID -19. Based on the GEM Center’s good practice principles for robust assessment programs and its method of aligning assessments with global MPLs, education stakeholders are now able to identify where learners are and what they need to progress in their learning.

More information

Read it COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa: Monitoring Impacts on Learning Outcomes report.

Discover revolutionary new tools developed under the MILO project to advance the measurement of SDG 4.

Watch the Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 on Learning Outcomes Webinar.

Visit the MILO website.

Learn more about the work of the GEM Center.


Comments are closed.