Improving education quality is key to Kenya’s Vision 2030, which aims to transform Kenya into a “middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all of its citizens by the year 2030.”
Across Kenya, literacy rates in primary schools were lower than expected despite decades of investment and implementation of evidence-based innovations (Piper et al. 2018). The Kenyan education system is seeking to improve learning outcomes by instilling better instructional practices, expanding resources for teacher training, and developing learning materials that support multilingual literacy.
In 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with support from the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), awarded the Tusome Early Grade Reading Activity. Taking its name from the Kiswahili word for “Let’s Read,” Tusome aims to dramatically improve primary literacy outcomes for approximately 7 million Kenyan children in grades 1–3.
Under the leadership of the Kenyan Ministry of Education (MOE), RTI is the prime implementer of Tusome, supported by partner organizations—Women Educational Researchers of Kenya, Worldreader, and Dalberg-Global Development Advisors.
Two major aspects of Tusome set it apart: its rigorous evidence-based approach and its national scale.
The project builds upon the approach developed under the successful Primary Mathematics and Reading (PRIMR) initiative, which ran from 2011–2014. Also led by the MOE, funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by RTI, PRIMR tested early grade learning interventions to assess their effectiveness and potential for national scale-up. PRIMR determined which ingredients of instructional improvement were most critical for learning, which types of information communication technology (ICT) support could make the most impact, and whether and how decisions about the language of instruction could support learning.