How USAID’s Higher Education Programs Support Improved Instruction for Foundational Skills
USAID’s Higher Education Program Framework reinforces the USAID Education Policy by emphasizing the importance of preparing teachers, administrators, and other education professionals to deliver high-quality, student-centered instruction in foundational skills. The Framework also describes the role of research and community engagement in higher education, which can strengthen primary and secondary educational systems.
Investments in local colleges and universities help expand and advance innovation in pre-service teacher education programs that better prepare teachers to help students learn. Below are examples from Senegal and Rwanda that illustrate this principle.
USAID higher education activities were an essential part of the Senegalese government’s strategy to boost early grade reading through a national reading program. The Lecture Pour Tous (LPT) activity piloted and refined course modules in half of the country’s regional teacher training centers. The USAID activity trained 3,300 student teachers in early grade reading instruction using three national languages: Pulaar, Seereer, and Wolof—including the introduction of Wolof materials and testing in Braille in four inclusive education schools. The activity also worked across six regions of Senegal to help pilot early grade reading reforms in 64 Quranic schools, locally known as daaras.
A follow-on activity, Renforcement de la Lecture Initiale pour Tous (RELIT), built on the successes of LPT by expanding the program geographically, adding two new local languages, supporting a national curriculum for French as a second language from kindergarten through second grade, and improving the Senegalese education systems’ capacity to implement its bilingual policy.
Through investments in higher education capacity and other activities, USAID is bolstering Rwanda’s pre-primary and lower primary education systems and improving students’ literacy outcomes. USAID’s Tunoze Gusoma program includes training for education professionals on using evidence-based approaches for reading instruction and coaching on methods to build children’s social and emotional skills. The professional development modules are delivered in both Kinyarwanda, the local language, and English to teacher training college tutors and other education stakeholders. Modules on literacy instruction, assessment and remediation, blended learning, social emotional learning, and inclusive teaching practices were delivered in all of Rwanda’s 16 teacher training colleges.
As higher education institutions strengthen their capacity, they can positively impact the educational systems that underpin a country’s economic and social development. Leveraging investments in this capacity strengthening to improve teacher education ultimately helps education systems deliver the quality foundational learning that children need to continue their educational journeys.