Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries. Education rigorous literature review.

Type Report
Title Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries. Education rigorous literature review.
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Developing countries face distinct challenges in providing access to quality education.
Educational provision also varies markedly in terms of teacher training, teaching and
learning resources, school attendance, and motivation of parents, teachers and children
for schooling. Against this backdrop, we consider the available evidence on foundation
learning and literacy in order to identify key components for intervention that are
appropriate to specific cultural and linguistic contexts. A fundamental assumption is that
in order to increase the educational attainments of children, it is critical to put in place
high-quality teacher education; however this is beyond the scope of the current review.
The review was informed by research conducted in economically developed countries, but
the focus of the narrative review was on literature from developing countries (low- and
lower-middle income countries), published from 1990 to January 2013. We chose 1990 as
the cut-off year because this was the year of the Jomtein Summit and marked the UN
Declaration of Education for All. All papers were appraised for methodological quality and
cultural sensitivity, and we included only those studies rated as of high and moderate
quality in the narrative review.
The review was commissioned to address issues pertaining to foundation learning and
literacy. We therefore included evidence on language and literacy learning from early
childhood to Grade 8 (approximately 3-13 years), when the ability to read with
understanding should be in place. We also decided to include mathematical reasoning and
numeracy learning up to Grade 2 (approximately 3-8 years) as an example of a foundation
skill critical to the development of numerical and scientific thinking. In conducting the
review, we considered within-child factors, including cognitive and language skills, and
contextual factors including home language and literacy environment, community
practices and quality of opportunity as well as the social stratifiers and economic drivers
that influence non-enrolment, poor attendance, and dropout. Finally, we included a
rigorous evaluation of interventions.

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