May 6, 2021

How do we improve literacy and food security in an ever-evolving context? Bring everyone together!

As part of the CIES21 Conference, AVSI Ivory Coast shared the achievements of the World Food Program and AVSI’s “Support for the Integrated School Feeding and Literacy” program

On Thursday, April 29, during the CIES21 Conference (April 25-May 2), AVSI participated in a panel session to present the findings and lessons learned from evaluations of the school feeding programs on reading and nutritional outcomes of primary school children in Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. The two programs are funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program that supports education, child development, and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries.

Organized by IMPAQ International, the evaluation firm working on both interventions, the panel presented the achievements of Catholic Relief Services’ “Beoog Biiga II” (“Tomorrow’s Child”) Program in Burkina Faso and the success of the World Food Program and AVSI’s “Support for the Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program” in Ivory Coast. USDA moderated the online encounter.

As part of the panel, Raoul Kone, Deputy Chief of Staff, was present representing the Ministry of National Education, Technical Education and Vocational Education in Ivory Coast. He shared the government’s work in the Education sector and how collaboration between the McGovern Dole Program and the government led to the successful results and lessons learned in the last five years.

"In Ivory Coast, we saw the need to help our children learn how to read. We worked to change and improve things. The McGovern Dole Program has helped us do so and helped in our teacher training and getting books in some of our most remote schools.”

The two initiatives have evolved to include a series of activities such as the provision of take-home rations (THR); distribution of deworming pills, vitamins, and minerals; provision of school supplies and materials; school district administrator training; capacity building at the local, regional, and national levels; mentorship of girls; teacher training; creation of community-saving and lending groups; establishment of a standardized reading assessment; and establishment of libraries. 

“The training modules and tools we improved, designed and distributed to the 613 schools helped teachers continue good practices and pay attention to each of their children, to ensure they are learning and progressing in their reading levels,” says Elly Bahati, AVSI Ivory Coast Chief of Project.

The panel offered a unique comparison across two countries and implementers using different approaches and experiences of implementing partners yet using the same program framework with the same evaluation partner, providing findings, lessons learned, and recommendations throughout the project.

“Our project has helped children in Ivory Coast learn how to read and write and there are always new ways to improve and reinforce what we are doing. Having the ability to share and compare with our CRS colleagues in Burkina Faso helps us both, as organizations, pay attention and adapt to the context and the needs of the children in schools. This kind of forum is a great opportunity for collaboration.,” remarks Elly Bahati.

Baseline Findings of Support for Integrated School Feeding Program

• 68% of students came from illiterate households
78% of students reported not having books at home
67% reported not reading with parents or siblings at home
7% of schools had a library
Over 40 students per teacher in a classroom

Midline Updates of Support for Integrated School Feeding Program

• Enrolment increased schools for girls in CM grades (4-5th grades) where take-home rations are offered
67% of students enrolled in McGovern Dole schools had access to mobile libraries, and many students also had access to other materials, including reading boards, illustrated boards, junior dictionaries, and sculpted plastic letters
In non-MGD schools, only 10% of students had access to such learning materials
Over 90% of teachers at every grade level said they had participated in AVSI trainings
If available, school records showed near-perfect levels of teacher attendance

An endline evaluation is planned, corresponding to the end of the school year, to evaluate the overall progress measured during the five years of implementing the “Support for Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program”. Watch the video below to learn more about the project.

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