• Scholarly report

Evaluation of Mali’s mother-tongue early grade “Read Learn Lead” program


Spratt, J., Ralaingita, W., Fomba, C. O., & Diawara, M. (2013). Evaluation of Mali’s mother-tongue early grade “Read Learn Lead” program: Year 2 technical follow-up report with focus on teacher and classroom practice. (Produced for review by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International.


Context. Since the early 1990s, reading instruction in Mali’s elementary schools has been pluralistic, with French-language and national-language instructional approaches coexisting, even across public schools. The Institute for Popular Education (Institut pour l’Éducation Populaire, or IEP) designed the Read-Learn-Lead (RLL) program to demonstrate that the national languages-based Curriculum approach—if properly implemented and supported—can be a viable and effective approach to primary education. Building on IEP’s experience adapting the Systematic Method for Reading Success (SMRS)1 for the Malian setting in Bamanankan language, the RLL program involves materials development, capacity development, formative student assessment, documentation, and stakeholder participation. The program’s “Learn to Read” results set focuses on developing materials and teacher capacity to support systematic reading instruction and practice in Grades 1 and 2. In 2009, with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, IEP began to extend this results set to three additional national languages (Bomu, Fulfulde, and Songhai) and to 210 additional schools.

In parallel, the Foundation engaged RTI International to conduct an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the “Learn to Read” results set over the course of this extension. The evaluation sought to examine the effectiveness of the program in producing early grade readers and the human and material resources necessary to do so, and how language of instruction and length of exposure may affect this process.