Kenya Primary Math and Reading Initiative

What is Kenya Primary Math and Reading Initiative?

The Kenya Primary Reading and Math Initiative is a research-based activity to improve the English and Kiswahili language and mathematics skills of Kenyan children by the end of Grade Two by 2015. Ensuring that children have the reading and mathematics skills they need to succeed in secondary school and the workforce is an important shared goal of the Government of Kenya and USAID. The program is working jointly with the Ministry of Education to evaluate successful pilot interventions in 500 primary schools and prepare to bring them to scale. 

Project Duration and Budget

August 2011 - August 2014
$8.1 million 

Who implements Kenya Primary Math and Reading Initiative?

RTI International
CfBT Education Trust
World Reader

Where does Kenya Primary Math and Reading Initiative work?

Nairobi, Thika, Nakuru, and Kisumu Counties

What does Kenya Primary Math and Reading Initiative do?

The Initiative’s interventions are based on a rigorous national research study which identified specific areas for improvement in Kenya’s primary education system.

The program has introduced innovative teaching methods, new materials based on the existing curriculum, and professional development to build the skills of educators and improve student literacy outcomes.
Teachers are receiving training in how to encourage active learning and participation by both girls and boys in the classroom.

PRIMR’s instructional approaches use classroom data for a balanced approach to improving student achievement in reading and math. Data from student assessments determine the effectiveness of reading and math interventions and inform policy-related discussions with Kenya’s Ministry of Education on recommendations and strategies for scaling up successful programs.

How is the Kenya Primary Reading and Math Initiative making a difference? 

Mid-term evaluation results show that between January and October 2012, students in formal schools were between 2.9 and 27.9 times more likely to read than students in the non-Primary Reading and Math Initiative schools right next door. In non-formal schools, pupils were between 1.9 and 3.3 times more likely to read than those in non-Primary Reading and Math Initiative schools.

Based on these results, The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has approved a nationwide pilot of the Primary Reading and Math Initiative's books, lesson plans, instructional materials, and other diagnostic and supplemental materials. 

A number of Information and Communications Technologies are being tested for cost-effectiveness when implemented nationally. Video cameras and projectors for classroom use can be important instructional supports. Short Message Service (SMS) technology is facilitating on-going communication between coaches and teachers who are geographically distant. Electronic tablets outfitted with PRIMR instructional materials are contributing to classroom pedagogical tools, and age-appropriate e-readers are being used by children to encourage active learning.

What key challenges does Kenya Primary Math and Reading Initiative face?

Education is a centerpiece of the Kenyan Government’s Vision 2030—its ambitious plan to transform Kenya into a middle-income country. Free Primary Education is part of this vision, and has produced a dramatic response since its introduction in 2003. Primary school enrollment has increased by nearly 3 million pupils (a 46% increase), while the number of primary schools grew by 7,000 (a 38% increase). The Government of Kenya, along with USAID is committed to ensuring that the increase in enrollment is accompanied by an increase in learning as well.

For more information:

Dr. Benjamin Piper, Chief of Party
RTI International
Tel. +254 733 719966/716 71996

Dr. T. Wambui Gathenya, Activity Manager
Education and Youth Office
Tel: +254 20 862 2000

Updated September 2013

Last updated: September 12, 2013

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