Adapting assessment into policy and learning (ADAPT): Adolescent 21st Century skills in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania
The youth population in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the fastest-growing region in the world, is expected to double in next 3 decades, reaching 375 million by 2030 (ILO, 2020). However, development analysts have observed that the continent remains stubbornly inhospitable-politically, economically, and socially-to young people (Mastercard Foundation, 2017). This is a challenge because the youth population in SSA is a “demographic dividend” that is integral to the future prosperity of countries in the region (May & Turbat, 2017). African countries can thrive, economically and socially, if governments and civil society act now to tap the energy and dynamism of the growing adolescent population. Urgently needed is a comprehensive policy agenda, that focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ensuring access to health care (SDG 3) and quality education (SDG 4) for all adolescents including technology-driven and on providing them with productive employment and decent work (SDG 8) (United Nations, 2018).
In East Africa, there is a growing chorus of voices calling for a strategic and explicit focus on contextually appropriate 21st Century Skills within education programs and school curricula, supported by assessment data that draws on the lived experience of young people from the region.
The Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI) is a collaborative peer learning network of about 70 organizations who work on improving learning outcomes in East Africa. Founded in 2017, RELI is a member-driven initiative. Its goal is to empower members--policy makers, civil society, non-governmental organizations to become effective, influential organizations through peer-to-peer collaboration, learning, and joint policy engagement. In response to the growing appetite for focusing on 21st Century Skills within education programming among RELI members, the Values and Life Skills (VaLi) Thematic Group of RELI established the Assessment of Lifeskills and Values in East Africa (ALiVE) initiative in 2019.
The ADAPT Project is building up on learning from the ALiVE initiative with a focus on promoting the acquisition of 21st century skills for adolescents by strengthening utilization of data from learning assessments in curriculum design, adaptation, and delivery.
- Limited evidence on how to best incorporate 21st Century Skills within school systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A lot of evidence generated by multilateral organizations on how to address 21st Century Skills within technical and vocational training programs in SSA but limited information or experience about how to effectively incorporate these skills within education programs and school curricula.
- Even if national entities in SSA wanted to focus on 21st Century Skills within education programs and school curricula, there is uncertaintly and lack of consensus on defining these skills and in delivering and measuring them.
- Studies have shown that there is inadequate capacities among teachers, civil society, and ministry officials to effectively and reliably use the available assessment data to make evidence-based decisions.
- There is a lack of coordination within and across countries and partners working on 21st Century Skills in SSA.
The project specifically seeks to;
- Generate lessons from past and present national and regional learning assessments and initiatives to enhance national data-driven decision making.
- Build capacity of a dynamic learning community to integrate and assess 21st century skills and support utilization of learning assessments at the school and sub-national (district/county/region) levels.
- Mobilise policy uptake on the utilization of learning assessments in the education plans, curriculum frameworks and teacher development.
The ADAPT project will towards achieving the following 4 outcomes as outlined in the figure below.
The ADAPT approach
The ADAPT research will have 6 key component phases:
1) Formative study of past utilization of Las
2) A systems’ mapping each of the three countries
3) Capacity assessment on the members of the Learning community
4) Establishment and the continuous engagement of learning community in knowledge sharing, capacity building ,
(5) Knowledge translation and policy influence
6) Regular knowledge sharing forums and ongoing policy engagement and advocacy.
The Global E-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI) has worked since 2005 to provide capacity building, technical and strategic support to countries seeking to harness the potential of ICT to increase access to, and to improve quality, equity and effectiveness of education provision. As such, we are leading a consortium of partners in implementing the ADAPT Project. The Consortium brings together 3 organizations with experience connecting the practitioner, education research and policy engagement worlds namely; Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI) in collaboration with Makerere University’s College of Education and External Studies (CEES) and The University of Notre Dame’s Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (GC-DWC).
The Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI) is a collaborative peer learning network of about 70 organizations who work on improving learning outcomes in East Africa. Founded in 2017, RELI is a member-driven initiative. Its goal is to empower members--policy makers, civil society, non-governmental organizations--to become effective, influential organizations through peer-to-peer collaboration, learning, and joint policy engagement.
Assessment of Lifeskills and Values in East Africa (ALiVE) initiative in 2019. ALiVE focuses on the long-term goal of helping education systems and non-state partners focus on and equip learners with critical 21st Century Skills through the use of assessment data. ALiVE is implemented through a co-creation and collaborative development of a contextualized 21st Century Skills assessment, driven by civil society leaders. Currently ALiVE is working to develop and validate the assessment with adolescents (13-17 years) in school and non-formal education settings in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The ADAPT Project is supported by the Global Partnership for Education and the International Research Development Centre (IDRC) under the Knowledge Innovation Exchange (KIX) Program.
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