In a move strengthening the Nepali education sector, USAID, a US Government aid agency, has taken a new initiative for early childhood development in Nepal.
“Based on USAID’s Education Strategy and local assessments that found extremely low reading scores despite high primary school enrollment, USAID shifted to a leading role in advocating for early grade reading to be on the national education reform agenda,” informed USAID’s official release on August 08, 2017.
As part of its plan, USAID directly channels assistance through host country systems to support the implementation and scale up Nepal’s Early Grade Reading Assessment (NEGRA).
USAID’s education strategy and local assessments pointed at specific areas of need to improve early grade reading. The agency found extremely low reading scores despite high primary school enrollment in Nepal and hence, pitched for inclusion of early grade reading on Nepal’s education reform agenda.
Citing its assessment on NEGRA, the agency said that the majority of Nepali students read far below international standards and 55 percent of Grade II children, whose mother tongue was not Nepali scored zero, on reading assessments.
Teachers Lack Proper Training
According to USAID, even the teaching staff have only a minimal command on evidence-based instructional techniques for teaching to the students at early grade reading level.
Under its objective, the agency intends to introduce evidence-based EGR instructional materials & train teachers of Grades I-III on the use of provided materials, improve classroom-based EGR assessment processes in target districts, institutionalize policies, standards that support improved EGR instruction and outcomes and strengthen capability of parent-teacher associations & school management committees to contribute to improved early grade reading outcomes.
It is noteworthy there is already a School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) 2016-2023 that serves as the Government of Nepal’s education sector strategy and supports Nepal’s vision to graduate from the status of a least developed country by 2030.