Tusome Early Grade Reading Case Study
A Literature Review, Webinar, and Brief on Kenya's Tusome Program
Reading is a fundamental skill which is linked to future academic success and life outcomes. Early grade reading scores in many low- and middle-income contexts are significantly lower than in high-income countries. Children who do not learn to read in the first few grades of school have higher likelihoods of repeating classes or dropping out of school compared to their literate peers.
Kenya has had a number of reforms in the education sector. For example, in 2003, the Government of Kenya implemented Free Primary Education, which drastically increased pupil enrollment, with near gender parity. However, the quality of education provided in many public primary schools began to decline. The core skills of literacy and numeracy degenerated the most due, in part, to increased enrollment numbers that were not accompanied by an increase in supportive services and resources. The lack of supportive services and resources was especially felt after the 2007/8 election violence, as most of the infrastructure was destroyed and funding allocation to the education sector reduced. With donor support in subsequent years, the Ministry of Education started to improve school infrastructure, including providing electricity in schools and building of computer rooms. The U.S. Agency for International Development funded Tusome (2014-2019), a successful early grade reading program, implemented by RTI International.
The Tusome program takes its name from the Kiswahili word for “Let’s Read.” Tusome is set apart by two major aspects: its strong evidence-based approach drawn from the highly successful precursor initiative, Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) and, its ability to be implemented at the national scale in a cost-effective way. Tusome focuses on five key interventions that were developed and proven under PRIMR to improve pupils’ learning outcomes, namely:
- Enhancing teachers’ capacity to effectively deliver classroom instructions
- Improving learners’ access and use of appropriate core and supplemental reading instructional materials and resources
- Enhancing instructional support and supervision
- Integrating the use of information and communications technology (ICT) and data through Curriculum Support Officers’ (CSOs’) tablets, nationally
- Enhancing collaboration with other literacy actors locally and internationally