BRIEF

Testing and Scaling-Up Supply- and Demand-side Interventions to Improve Kindergarten Educational Quality in Ghana

October 3, 2016


In Ghana, the majority of kindergarten teachers are untrained and many teachers and parents have views about early childhood education that don’t reflect international standards for best practices. Findings from impact evaluations confirm the importance of quality early childhood education for children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, school readiness and learning. This evaluation will help the Government of Ghana assess the impacts of a low-cost teacher training and parent education program. It also assesses the programs’ effectiveness in improving teaching practices and children’s school readiness and development.

Research area: Early Childhood Nutrition, Development, and Health

Country: Ghana

Evaluation Sample: 240 kindergarten schools and 3,600 children aged 4-6 years

Timeline: 2015-2018

Intervention: Teacher training, video sessions for parents

Researchers: J. Lawrence Aber,  New York University; Sharon Wolf, University of Pennsylvania; Jere R. Behrman, University of Pennsylvania; Loïc Watine, Innovations for Poverty Action

Partners: UBS Optimus Foundation; New York University

 

Policy Issue

High-quality eary childhood education is critical for building the skills children need to learn and has been linked to long-term adult economic well-being. Investing in effective, low-cost teacher training models to improve the quality of early childhood education , and finding ways to encourage parents’ engagement with schools and teachers, is critical in countries with limited resources and untrained teachers. This evaluation in Ghana will examine the effects of providing an eight-day, low-cost kindergarten teacher training, and the added value of video sessions to increase parental awareness of the importance of quality early childhood education. Researchers will examine whether the program improves classroom practices and teacher-child interactions, as well as children’s development, school readiness and early primary school learning.

Context

Ghana is a lower-middle income country that has sharply reduced infant and child mortality and increased enrollment in primary education. Nevertheless, poverty, combined with lack of access to improved water and sanitation and quality early childhood education, means that many children are not yet getting the best possible start in life. Nearly 20 percent of children under the age of five are stunted and 66 percent of children aged 6-59 months are anaemic—and this has  adverse consequences for the development of cognitive, socio-emotional and motor skills essential for learning and success.

The Government of Ghana is committed to improving early childhood development and learning by increasing access to quality kindergarten education. To promote this issue, the Government adopted the National Early Childhood Care and Development policy in 2004.  More than a decade later, however, most kindergarten teachers are still untrained. Addressing this lack of teacher training is a top priority for Ghana’s Ministry of Education. Parents in the country’s school system also tend to assess the quality of kindergarten education based on physical infrastructure rather than if developmentally-appropriate classroom practices are used, and they rarely engage with school staff about their children’s education. This project addresses both of these issues. The Government of Ghana is supporting the evaluation in six of the most disadvantaged districts in the greater Accra region to determine whether the pilot, which aims to increase demand for and supply of quality education, will boost kindergarten learning.


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Photo: Trevor Samson / World Bank

Policy Impact

The results from the evaluation will be used by the Government of Ghana to decide whether the low-cost teacher training model should be scaled up to other communities. If the training model is successful, it may also be adopted by private teacher training centers throughout the country. The evaluation findings will help inform early childhood education policy in other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have a largely untrained kindergarten teacher workforce and limited resources to invest in teacher training.

Program Description/Intervention

The program will last one school year and comprises two interventions. The first is a low-cost, five-day training for kindergarten teachers in the schools, followed by a two-day refresher course and later another one-day refresher training (eight days total).  The training will be conducted by the National Nursery Teacher Training Center (NNTTC), which is based in Accra and partially funded by the Ministry of Education. The program is designed in response to the governments’ 2012 Plan to Scale Up Quality KG Education in Ghana and provides in-service teacher training focused on early childhood development, child-centered and play-based learning methods, and behavior management techniques.  

The in-service training will be complemented by a three-day training for four early childhood education (ECE) coordinators in each of the six program districts to strengthen their ability to monitor, evaluate and support teachers. These trained coordinators will visit teachers four to eight times during the school year.

The second intervention aims to increase parents’ awareness of the importance of quality early childhood education. Videos will be shown at three different Parent Teacher Association meetings, followed by discussions led by the trained district ECE coordinators and head teachers. The contents of the videos are designed to help parents understand what what constitutes a good learning environment and the importance of early childhood education. It will also teach parents that they can influence the quality of education by engaging with school staff. Parents will be given pamphlets that reiterate the information in the videos.

Impact Evaluation

Public and private kindergarten schools with classrooms in the six pilot districts in the greater Accra region are eligible to participate in the program. The main research questions to be answered by the evaluation are:

  • Does the low-cost, eight-day in-service training for kindergarten teachers improve their classroom practices, teacher-child interactions, child development outcomes, school readiness and learning?
  • Does the low-cost parental awareness video intervention change parental perceptions, expectations of a quality kindergarten education?
  • Does the impact of the teacher training and the parental awareness intervention differ for public and private schools?
  • Does the impact of the teacher training and the parental awareness intervention differ depending on children’s gender, language spoken at home, and children’s home environments?

The evaluation uses a clustered randomized control trial approach that stratifies eligible kindergarten schools by district and public and private status, and randomly assigns them to one of the two treatment groups or the control group. Treatment group 1 consists of 80 schools, half public and half private where teachers will receive the low-cost in-service training.  Treatment group 2 also consists of 80 schools, half public and half private, where teachers will receive the same training as those in treatment group 1. In addition, the parents of children randomly selected for the sample will participate in the video intervention to increase their awareness of the importance of quality early childhood education. For both treatment groups, the district coordinators trained by the program will provide continuous support to teachers. In the 80 public and private schools in the control group, teachers will not receive any in-service training and there won’t be any parental awareness intervention; this group represents the “business-as-usual” case. At each school, 15 students and two teachers will be randomly selected for a total sample of about 3,600 children and 480 teachers in 240 schools.

The evaluation will use questionnaires and direct assessments at the program baseline in 2015, midline in 2016 and endline in 2017 and will measure children’s pre-literacy, pre-numeracy, motor, and socio-emotional development, as well as classroom teaching quality. Questionnaries will also evaluate teacher motivation and parents’ perceptions of education, as well as program implementation.

Additional Resources

NYU: https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/global-ties/early_childhood/ghana

IPA: http://www.poverty-action.org/study/improving-kindergarten-quality-ghana