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RTI International to Partner with USAID to Expand and Strengthen Bilingual Reading Instruction in Senegal

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International (RTI), a nonprofit research and international development institute, has been selected by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to lead a new five-year program to support the Government of Senegal to improve young children’s reading skills through high-quality, evidence-based, bilingual instruction in nine sub-national regions.

The Renforcement de la Lecture Initiale Pour Tous (RELIT) Program builds on previous USAID-funded efforts to improve early grade instruction and reading outcomes for children in Wolof, Seereer and Pulaar—three national languages in Senegal—in seven sub-national regions. Through USAID RELIT, RTI will work with Senegal’s Ministry of Education and education partners at central and local levels to expand this effort into three additional local languages—Mandinka, Soninke and Diola—and two additional regions. RELIT will also support development of a comprehensive curriculum for French as a second language, from kindergarten through second grade, that builds on the foundations of literacy introduced to children through their local languages.

“Across the world, there is increasing evidence that children are more likely to succeed academically when they begin school in a language they understand,” said Melinda Taylor, RTI’s senior vice president for international education. “RTI is proud to partner with USAID and the Government of Senegal to bring our combined experience and research to develop materials and instructional strategies that improve student outcomes in Senegal.”

The USAID RELIT program will provide technical and capacity building assistance to help the Government of Senegal achieve its goals for public education. As part of its approach, the program will engage local linguists, writers, teachers and educational researchers to develop evidence-based models for early grade bilingual reading materials. The program will then build the capacity of local publishers to produce and deliver such materials, and of teachers to effectively integrate these materials into classroom instruction.

“RTI’s approach is consistent with USAID Administrator Power’s commitment to local capacity development,” says Joe DeStefano, director of policy, systems and governance in international education at RTI. “We will partner closely with the Ministry of Education at the central, regional and local levels to ensure that learning outcomes will continue to improve, and to reinforce the capacity of education system actors, local organizations and Senegalese families to support early grade learning.”

RTI is implementing the RELIT program in partnership with Save the Children and Associates in Research and Education for Development (ARED). Together, RTI, Save the Children and ARED bring over 65 years of experience implementing complex education projects and will work together, and with the Government of Senegal and USAID, to successfully and sustainably expand quality bilingual education in Senegal. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

About RTI International
RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Clients rely on us to answer questions that demand an objective and multidisciplinary approach — one that integrates expertise across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering and international development. We believe in the promise of science, and we are inspired every day to deliver on that promise for the good of people, communities and businesses around the world. For more information, visit www.rti.org.

Read more about RTI’s work in international education