Action research: Measuring literacy programme participants' learning outcomes (RAMAA)
Measuring literacy levels in West and Central Africa
The persistently low rate of literacy among young people and adults, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, constitutes a major obstacle to sustainable development, peace and social cohesion. The absence of reliable data on literacy is a key challenge for many countries. Policy-makers and development partners require this information in order to respond to citizens’ needs and to plan for, monitor and evaluate interventions.
Against this backdrop, and at the request of several countries, RAMAA was initiated in five African countries in 2011; seven additional countries joined in 2016. RAMAA aims to provide national policy-makers and development partners with reliable data on youth and adult literacy.
The project aims to enhance common assessment frameworks as well as test items and background questionnaires. In addition, it strengthens national capacities and South-South cooperation.
The implementation of RAMAA involved a preparatory gathering of national experts (evaluators, sociologists and educationalists from ministries of education in charge of literacy; relevant stakeholders from civil society, national statistical institutes and national universities), UNESCO (UIL; UNESCO Field Offices), and international experts (researchers from universities; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]; the Conference of Education Ministers in French-Speaking Countries [CONFEMEN]), who designed the scope and characteristics of the study. This was followed by a pre-testing phase and the subsequent main assessment phase.
RAMAA contributes to all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular to SDG Target 4.6 (‘Ensure that all youth and a substantial proposition of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy’) and Indicator 4.6.1 (‘Percentage of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by sex’). RAMAA also contributes to the implementation of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) 2016–2025.
During the ongoing second phase (2016-2020), the project has expanded to include a further seven countries: Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo. Participating countries are supported in the development of context-specific instruments to measure and collate reliable data on youth and adult literacy.