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RAMAA II: Establishing a sub-regional doctoral school in measurement of literacy

24 January 2017

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and 12 West and Central African countries have initiated the second phase of RAMAA (Recherche-action sur la mesure des apprentissages des bénéficiaires des programmes d’alphabétisation), an action research project to help develop capacities for evaluating and monitoring of literacy programmes at national and sub-regional levels. RAMAA II will support 12 national universities in building a sub-regional doctoral school in measurement of literacy learning outcomes, as one way of supporting countries’ responses to their literacy challenges.

It is against this backdrop that UIL as a first step offered literacy research scholarships to three second-year master’s students from the Training Institute in Literacy and Non-formal Education (IFAENF) in Niger.

Mr Seydou Amani, Mr Lowassi Houa Koï and Mr Issia Mori came to UIL in January 2017 to develop their research projects, all of which have strong links to RAMAA. In addition to direct assistance from UIL programme staff, the scholars made good use of the Institute’s extensive library and received training from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Sorbonne University experts.

All three scholars, before enrolling in their master’s studies, were practitioners in literacy with considerable experience in the field. Their research projects will all benefit from the measurement tools developed in the first phase of RAMAA.

  • The project of Mr Seydou Amani, entitled ‘Assiduity of literacy programme participants and learning outcomes: Case study in the urban commune of Birni-N’Konni in Niger’, examines the causality between the diligence of and the level of skills acquired by literacy programme participants. The research will apply the measurement tools developed in the first phase of RAMAA while drawing on data from questionnaires given to trainers and managers of literacy programmes.
  • The projects of both Mr Lowassi Houa Koï and Mr Issia Mori focus on the relationship between learning outcomes and gender, specifically in Tessaoua, a department of Niger, and the rural sub-prefecture of Pala in the Mayo-Kebbi West region of Chad. Literacy and gender are important issues in Africa; such inclusive analysis is therefore of particular value to policymakers. Measurement tools developed in RAMAA I will provide the basis for the project results.

The training at UIL was highly valued by all scholars, as evidenced by Mr Issia Mori’s statement: ‘The stay at UIL allowed us to enrich ourselves on our subject areas and on many themes related to our profession. Working together with the specialists’ team of UIL, we mastered the theoretical and conceptual framework of our researches.’ The UIL literacy research scholarships have made these scholars ambassadors of the RAMAA project in their respective countries and have equipped them with full resources to continue their research in order to help develop reliable contextualized data on literacy programmes in line with its objectives.

Looking ahead, a meeting with representatives of the 12 universities at UIL in Hamburg, Germany, will take place in April 2017 to establish the new doctoral school network, through which two students per participating country will be invited to take part in a one-month training course in measuring literacy at UIL in spring 2018. The participating universities will organize future courses as part of their MA and Ph.D. programmes.