Strengthening the Government of Zambia’s education research capacity for improved learning outcomes

Strengthening the Government of Zambia’s education

A robust assessment system that can track progress toward educational achievement is central to the success of any country’s national education system. Since 2018, the USAID/Zambia Education Data Activity (ZEDA), implemented by DevTech, has been working closely with the Government of Zambia to track educational achievement using Early Grade Reading Assessments (EGRAs). Specifically, the ZEDA team assessed a representative sample of Grade 2 learners using EGRAs in 2018 (baseline) and 2021 (midline) to help track the progress of USAID’s Let’s Read Project across five Zambian provinces: Eastern, Muchinga, North-Western, Southern, and Western province. Additionally, to provide nationally representative learner reading results, in 2021, in collaboration with the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ)—the corporate body responsible for overseeing academic assessments and conducting examinations in Zambia—the team assessed an additional representative sample of Grade 2 learners in Zambia’s five remaining provinces—Copperbelt, Central, Lusaka, Northern, and Luapula provinces—as part of Zambia’s National Estimates Research Study (NERS).

The ZEDA team has also worked to strengthen the capacity of ECZ and the Ministry of Education (MoE) to conduct EGRAs and analyze large quantitative datasets, and develop other education-related research.

The ZEDA team’s capacity building efforts, which were designed to strengthen every step of the data lifecycle, included:

  • The formation of an EGRA planning working group comprised of staff from the ECZ Research Unit, USAID, and USAID Education Data. Initially established to coordinate EGRA activities, the working group continues to meet regularly with ECZ. Their work includes development of a transition document in preparation for transferring skills, knowledge, and materials to ECZ for further EGRAs;
  • A workshop on sampling methodology;
  • A training on the use of the Myna application for EGRA data collection. The Myna tablet application includes a form builder to construct all the EGRA instruments and survey questionnaires, and a dashboard that highlights data collection information allowing for real time monitoring of assessors;
  • A workshop on data cleaning and analysis to further build ECZ capacity in quantitative methods for analyzing large education datasets using STATA software; and
  • A report writing retreat to support ECZ in its efforts to draft the NERS report. During the retreat, ECZ and ZEDA agreed on a timeline to review and refine the report for submission to USAID.

ZEDA is now working to tailor the Myna data collection application to meet the needs of the Government of Zambia.

The results of ZEDA’s capacity building efforts have been promising as made clear by ECZ official, Mr. Simwinga Simwinga, who participated in a number of the ZEDA-led capacity building activities: “[I] would urge anyone planning to do an EGRA to employ the strategy USAID Education Data used. I think a lot of careful planning was done before execution as evidenced by the well-coordinated series of activities.”

The purpose of USAID Education Data Activity is to provide distinct assessment, data management, and research and evaluation services to monitor and track the progress of USAID’s Let’s Read Zambia. Click here to find out more about USAID Education Data Activity.

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