Early Grade Reading Assessment Training for Quality Control Officers and Assessors

Early Grade Reading Assessment Training for Quality Control Officers and Assessors
USAID Education Office Director, Ms. Sarah Crites
Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 08:30 a.m.
Golden Peacock Hotel, Lusaka

(Remarks as prepared)

The Permanent Secretary for Administration, Ministry of General Education
Director of the Examinations Council of Zambia
Senior Planning Officer, Ministry of General Education
Officials from the Ministry of General Education and the Examinations Council of Zambia
The USAID Education Data team
Quality Control Officers and Assessors

Good morning. Thank you for your invitation and this great pleasure to be here with you today.  My name is Sarah Crites, and I have the privilege of serving as the Director of the USAID Education Office. On behalf of the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote, and the USAID Country Director, Patrick Diskin, I would like to sincerely thank you for this opportunity.

Let me begin by recognizing the Ministry of General Education and the Examinations Council of Zambia.  Your commitment to education assessment has brought us together today. Your commitment reflects the vision and priority of the Government of the Republic of Zambia to deliver quality and equitable education to all Zambian citizens.

The United States, the American people, and USAID share in this vision and priority, and we are pleased to partner with the Ministry of General Education to make education a path for national development, prosperity, and social progress.

Our partnership is focused on improving the quality of early-grade reading instruction and assessment in order to improve learning outcomes for Zambia’s children. We have this focus for a simple reason: Reading is one of the cornerstone skills that all children must absolutely master to succeed in school.  In fact, a child who does not master reading skills in the early grades of primary school will most likely struggle, and have fewer opportunities later in life.

Strong education systems begin with strong assessment practices, which evaluate learning achievement on a regular basis to understand how to improve.  USAID is pleased to note that Zambia has a strong history of successful educational assessment practices.  We are proud to share a longstanding partnership with the Examinations Council of Zambia and commitment to assessment of pupil learning.  Together, in this upcoming Early Grade Reading Assessment, we are generating the evidence of what actions are most effective for improving reading achievement.

The data we gather begin with you, the quality control officers, and assessors here today. The skills you acquire during this workshop will guide you as you go forth to conduct reading assessments in the coming weeks.  The quality of the data you collect will inform government and policymakers about learning challenges, and will expand learning opportunities for primary school children.

The data you collect will support the Ministry of General Education as it continues to strengthen the quality of learning under the Primary Literacy Program.  It will directly inform our new phase of partnership, beginning in the 2019 school year through the Let’s Read program—as we strive to improve reading and learning outcomes for over one million children in Pre-Primary school through Grade 3.  USAID looks forward to partnering with the Ministry of General Education to roll out the Let’s Read program to over half of all public primary and community schools throughout Zambia.

In closing, I would like to reiterate USAID’s deep gratitude for our continued collaboration and partnership with the Ministry of General Education and the Examinations Council of Zambia to assess learning achievement.  We have an important task ahead, and together, we will improve learning opportunities for children.  Thank you.