Learning about learning: What affects children’s learning in Sindh, Pakistan?

Primary school children in Sindh, Pakistan. Copyright Sadaf Shallwani. All rights reserved.

Primary school children in Sindh, Pakistan. Copyright Sadaf Shallwani. All rights reserved.

Recently, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) released a publication summarizing and reflecting upon major research studies carried out alongside AKF’s education initiatives in ten countries (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, and Portugal). For each study, the publication provides a brief introduction to the programme, an overview of the study design, and a summary of key findings – especially in terms of children’s learning. The report, authored by Sheridan Bartlett, is entitled Learning about Learning: Reflections on Studies from 10 Countries and can be found among the publications on the AKDN website. (Another related publication, also authored by Sheridan Bartlett, was released in 2010, entitled Improving Learning Achievement in Early Primary in Low-Income Countries: A Review of the Research.)

One of the studies reviewed in Learning about Learning is the large-scale research study we carried out alongside the Releasing Confidence and Creativity (RCC) early childhood development programme in Pakistan. For almost a decade, the RCC programme worked to improve access to quality early child development (ECD) programming in four provinces of Pakistan. A primary objective of the programme was to expand access to and improve the quality of teaching/learning in pre-primary classes, and Classes 1 and 2.

We undertook a comprehensive research study to examine the educational contexts for children in schools across the country, and to assess the results of the RCC programme on school, classroom, and child outcomes. Stratified random sampling was used to select RCC schools and comparison non-RCC schools from the regions where the RCC programme was operating. Data were collected on a number of school-level, classroom-level, and child-level indicators over three years.

We have conducted analysis on much of these data over the last few years. As part of my PhD research, I have been undertaking more detailed analyses on the data from Sindh. Thus far, the data from Sindh indicate that:

  • Preschool classrooms were of higher quality at RCC intervention schools than they were at non-RCC comparison schools (all t-tests were significant at p < .05 or lower).
  • Grade 1 classrooms were of higher quality at RCC intervention schools than they were at non-RCC comparison schools (all t-tests were significant at p < .05 or lower).
  • Grade 1 literacy and numeracy averages tended to be higher at RCC intervention schools than they were at non-RCC comparison schools but at the school level these differences were not statistically significant.
  • Teacher training played an important role: RCC classrooms where the observed teacher had herself been trained by RCC had higher classroom quality and higher learning achievement scores (English literacy) than RCC classrooms where the observed teacher had not herself been trained.
  • Preschool classroom characteristics tended to correlate with Grade 1 learning outcomes.
  • Grade 1 classroom characteristics tended to correlate with Grade 1 learning outcomes.

See more detailed findings here in this poster (pdf). (Abstract and citation here.)

I am still working to tease out the relative levels of variance accounted for by various school and classroom factors. For example, see here. I am also currently analyzing qualitative data gathered through interviews and focus group discussions with parents, teachers, and children at some of the schools in Sindh. These findings will inform a deeper and richer understanding of factors affecting children’s early primary learning in Pakistan.

I am hoping to get through my analysis and writing in the months ahead, so stay tuned for updates on my research. And forgive me for lapses between blog posts as I work on completing my dissertation!

Sadaf Shallwani

See related posts: 

One thought on “Learning about learning: What affects children’s learning in Sindh, Pakistan?

  1. Pingback: What affects children’s learning in Sindh, Pakistan? | Sadaf Shallwani – Early Childhood Development Research | Ismailimail

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s