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USAID to partner with RTI to improve early grade learning in East Africa

Efforts will increase access to basic education and improve student learning outcomes

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded RTI International, a nonprofit research institute and leading international development organization, as the holder of the Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contract to support its Reading for East Africa’s Development (READ) program. The aim of the contract is to improve access to quality education for children in eight East African countries, including Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, by reducing barriers to education, improving classroom equity, and increasing learning opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the challenges that education systems in East Africa have faced, leaving many students even further behind in key literacy skills. The READ program will work to improve foundational skills in reading to increase retention rates and future success in school.

RTI will implement the programs under the IDIQ by leveraging its partnerships and learnings from other programs such as the USAID-funded Kenya Tusome (“Let’s Read”) Activity, Tanzania Jifunze Uelewe ("Learn and Understand”) Activity, Uganda School Health and Reading Program, and Uganda Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity. The programs improved literacy outcomes by enhancing classroom instruction, improving access to learning materials, expanding instructional support and supervision, and collaborating with key system-level literacy actors.

The IDIQ manager and senior director for teaching and learning in international education at RTI, Jennae Bulat, Ph.D., emphasizes the importance of foundational skills in reading for continued retention in school and future success. “Foundational skills in reading are critical for continued retention in school and success in future grades,” she said.

RTI will work with local governments and partners to improve learning quality and reading rates to ensure that children thrive in their schools.

RTI's experience in implementing Learning at Scale and Science of Teaching research studies, which synthesize factors contributing to successful improvements in foundational learning outcomes across the sector, will be drawn upon to implement the READ program.

Overall, the USAID and RTI partnership is working towards improving access to basic education and student learning outcomes in East Africa.

Learn more about RTI’s work in International Education