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Teachers in Mali Take Active Learning Techniques to the Classroom via Radio

by Patricia Ann McKinnes last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:46 AM
Contributors: USAID
The Mali “Teacher Training via Radio” program, the first USAID program to build teacher skills through radio, reached more than 1,200 teachers in 638 schools in a country where fewer than one-half of the teachers receive coaching in the teaching of reading. More than 60 percent of participating teachers made progress in using active learning techniques. In an evaluation by Mali’s Ministry of Education, over 90 percent of teachers claimed that the radio programs had assisted them in their teaching duties.

Teachers in Mali Take Active Learning Techniques to the Classroom via Radio

photo Mali classroom with teacher and students
Mr. M. Coulibaly introduces an IRI program to his class at the Dioumanzana primary school in Mali; credit Mr. F. Camara, Teacher Training via Radio/Mali

Mamadou Coulibaly, a teacher in Bamako, Mali, was skeptical of interactive radio instruction when he first tried it. “When we first went to be trained to use the radio programming, we didn’t have any idea what to expect -- when we started working with it in our classes, we wondered, can this really work?” Mamadou, who participated in a USAID “Teacher Training via Radio” program, was soon convinced. “We were very surprised when our children loved it. And even more surprised by how easy it was to use the techniques that were modeled in our other teaching.”

The Mali “Teacher Training via Radio” program, the first USAID program to build teacher skills through radio, reached more than 1,200 teachers in 638 schools in a country where fewer than one-half of the teachers receive coaching in the teaching of reading. Student performance reflects this lack of training: only 23 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls can read a simple sentence in French by the end of grade four. Fortunately, the program’s success shows! More than 60 percent of participating teachers made progress in using active learning techniques. In an evaluation by Mali’s Ministry of Education, over 90 percent of teachers claimed that the radio programs had assisted them in their teaching duties.

photo - Mali educator sitting before computer as colleagues look on
USAID-supported teacher training in Mali introduces educators to innovative tools and strategies they can use in their classrooms; credit: USAID/Mali

Modibo Traoré, director of Coulibaly’s school, saw the exceptional effect of the programming on his teachers and took action, securing funding from his school management committee to buy radios for all 4th grade teachers in the school. He even convinced the local electric company to wire the school so that the radios could be plugged into the wall during broadcasting to resolve problems with static or sudden drops in broadcast quality. In his school alone, six teachers and 200 children benefited from high-quality instruction throughout the 2007-2008 school year.

The success story in Mali builds on a long history of USAID using radio for in-class instruction. The Agency pioneered Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) in Nicaragua in 1973, using it as a classroom tool to counteract inadequate teacher training, poor resources, and low levels of learner achievement. Promoting IRI for more than 30 years, USAID has reached large numbers of people in countries as diverse as Bolivia, El Salvador, Haiti, South Africa, Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, Zambia, Sudan, Nepal, and India.

photo teacher leading lesson in Mali classroom
Mrs. H. Traore leads an IRI lesson with her fourth grade class in Mali; credit - Mr. F. Camara, Teacher Training via Radio/Mali

IRI is effective because it can reach thousands of learners, many of whom would not otherwise have access to education, at minimal cost. Its low per-student cost has enabled countries to keep their IRI programs going strong long after the USAID programs financing IRI development have come to a close. Programs are written and produced in advance, enabling writing teams to incorporate accurate information and interesting academic exercises that teachers can employ with ease. The programs are always based on local curriculum but can weave in messages about other topics, too. In Zambia, HIV/AIDS information on awareness, prevention, and access to counseling and testing are provided to communities via radio. In Somalia, radio instruction programs teach life skills related to health, mediation, and democracy-building.

Most importantly, IRI is working. In Zambia, AIDS orphans experiencing IRI in non-formal learning centers scored as well or better than their government school peers on 4th grade exams. In Guinea, rural students and girls, who traditionally scored worse on government tests than their urban and male peers, achieved similar scores to their age-group peers within three years of beginning IRI. In South Africa, test scores of students who received “English in Action” lessons over the radio improved significantly over those who learned via other techniques.

Building on the success of the Teacher Training via Radio program, the Malian Ministry of Education and USAID/Mali will expand IRI nationwide. Under a new “Road to Reading” program USAID will support the Ministry of Education in creating IRI programming for all primary grade levels in all schools with a focus on reinforcing the core skills necessary to increase students’ ability to read. To measure its impact, this follow-on project will monitor not only teachers’ performance but reading scores of students receiving radio instruction.

 http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/education_and_universities/basic-ed/mali_radio.html

 

 
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