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Strengthening Education in Nigeria

Nigerian parents, teachers, community leaders and governments are committed to making early-grade education more accessible, attainable and inclusive. In the country with the largest number of out-of-school children in the world, expanding access to education requires collaboration and innovation.

For more than 15 years, Creative Associates International has worked alongside these education champions and with local, state and national governments to put quality education within reach.

Let's Read!

Reading is a crucial foundation for continued learning. The USAID Northern Education Initiative Plus program led the development and rollout of the Let’s Read! curriculum for primary grades 1-3. The curriculum, available in English and in Hausa — translated as Mu Karanta! — is used across two Nigerian states and is being replicated by four more supported by the World Bank Better Education Service Delivery for All program.

For some students, the three Let’s Read! books they receive each school year are the first they have ever owned.

The lessons and activities in the books were developed in partnership with the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council and other government agencies with a focus on meeting three key principles: being pedagogically sound, embedded in local culture and sustainable. Each lesson builds upon the previous one to strengthen reading skills. In the case of the Hausa language books, lessons prepare readers to transition to English in grade 4.

Accompanied by supplementary reading materials and teacher guides with lessons structures and continuous assessments, the Let’s Read! curriculum leads learners to improving literacy and lays the groundwork for continued success in school.

Supporting the “whole school, whole teacher, whole child”

Students can have high-quality books and reading materials, but without an enabling environment around them, it is much harder for them to succeed. Creative’s “whole school, whole teacher, whole child” approach makes sure students are surrounded with support throughout their education.

“Our whole child, whole teacher, whole school approach recognizes that for learning to take place you have to provide the conditions that enable the child to learn.” — Karen Tietjen, Principal Technical Advisor

Serving teachers to better serve students

When teachers themselves have a chance to learn and continue their own professional development, they can better serve their students. NEI Plus has worked closely with Teacher Education Institutions in Bauchi and Sokoto states and the National Commission for Colleges of Education to incorporate pre-service training for teachers. The project worked with and trained university faculty who have passed on knowledge to thousands of others at the onset of their teaching careers.

Outside of the pre-service institutions, NEI Plus has offered continuous professional development to more than 10,000 practicing teachers and other education practitioners.

These trainings help establish another important resource for educators through professional networks. Mentorship helps teachers continue to learn and grow and turn to their peers as a resource for ideas.

“Being a master trainer has greatly contributed to my career as an educator. It has enabled me to acquire new knowledge, skills and strategies in teaching a student-centered teaching approach” - Amina Ibrahim, Teacher Educator at Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic

Increasing access to the classroom

For millions of children in Nigeria, the barriers to enrollment or regular attendance in school are too great. This is especially true for girls, who make up 60 percent of the country’s out-of-school children.

Working with families, communities and local governments can bring educational opportunities closer to home. In addition to working with formal schools, NEI Plus supports 5,600 nonformal learning centers, adolescent girls learning centers and youth learning centers. Some 268,000 students who were not enrolled in school have gotten their education back on track through these centers. Many of them have then transitioned back into the formal school system.

This same approach has also been applied in the Northeast, where the Boko Haram conflict has displaced millions of people and destroyed schools.

The USAID-funded Education Crisis Response program, which ran from 2014 to 2018, helped meet this need in five Northern Nigerian states: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Yobe.

Through more than 1,400 learning centers and 780 formal schools, the project reached over 80,000 students with basic education instruction as well as psychosocial support. Those students showed significant gains in reading and numeracy in both English and Hausa.

Social and emotional learning in education

Educating children who have been affected by conflict calls for an approach that prioritizes their psychosocial wellbeing and that of their teachers. Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Photos by Erick Gibson for Creative Associates International

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