LIRE - Learning Initiatives for Rural Education (2008-2009)

CIE worked in Senegal and The Gambia to strengthen the role of multi-grade classrooms in addressing the challenge of providing primary education in rural areas. CIE faculty members Jacqueline Mosselson and Gretchen Rossman served as Principal Investigators. The project was funded by a World Bank Trust Fund. CIE partnered with the National Council for Negro Women in Senegal, where Mbarou Gassama Mbaye currently serves as a Managing Director..


The LIRE Project was designed to increase access to primary schools in low-density population areas in Senegal and The Gambia.  Schools in these rural contexts are often configured as either single-teacher schools or two- or three-teacher schools that must serve all levels often without sufficient teacher resources and teacher training to successfully facilitate student learning.  Given these constraints and the pressures of increasing access through EFA policies, the LIRE project worked with multi-grade teachers, school communities, and appropriate education departments to provide teacher training in multi-grade pedagogy, curriculum adaptation, classroom management, and action research processes. 


LIRE carried out three training workshops with teachers and inspectors from the 20 demonstration schools located in Senegal and The Gambia.  Trainers in Senegal included Mr Yaya Diatta, the In-Country Coordinator, and inspectors from the districts of the demonstration schools.  Trainers in The Gambia included Mrs. Emily Sarr, the In-Country Coordinator, and two Gambian trainers.  Each set of in-country trainers was paired with UMass trainers. The UMass LIRE team included Alicia Fitzpatrick, Paul Frisoli, Sarah Kahando, Rebecca Paulson and Karla Sarr .


Workshops focused on the following topics: using local resources in schools; integrating the community into the classroom; assessing student progress through continuous assessment processes; micro-teaching; classroom management and arrangement; developing self-instructional materials; development of weekly and daily multi-grade lesson plans; and adapting the curriculum for multi-grade settings.


Between training workshops, teams made monitoring and evaluation visits to the demonstration schools to assess progress in implementing multi-grade practices and to provide supportive feedback to the teachers.  In addition, in the Gambia, community sensitization visits were made to several villages served by the demonstration schools.  In Senegal, tutors (inspectors) from all 22 Teacher Training Colleges participated in a workshop designed to provide them with initial exposure to the principles and practices of multi-grade education.  The workshop was opened by representatives of the Minister: his chief Technical Advisor and his chief of Cabinet.


For the most part, teachers have shown great progress in implementing new practices in their schools.  They are sharing the materials which they have developed, building a locally-generated repertoire of new activities and practices for multi-grade settings.  Teachers in The Gambia have had little exposure to multi-grade pedagogical practices so much of the content in the workshops was new to them.  Many teachers in Senegal, on the other hand, have had some training in multi-grade principles and practices but much of this has been theoretical rather than practical.  All valued the pragmatic approach taken by the LIRE trainers.


Teacher guides and training manuals for each country were developed, pilot-tested, and modified.  These will be widely shared, upon final review by the Technical Working Groups and Advisory Committees in both countries.

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