In the remote, heavily forested northern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), schoolteachers are receiving some interesting packages. Teaching toolkits and instructional materials are arriving, allowing teachers to refresh their skills and in turn boost math and French learning among their students.
A team effort by EDC and the education ministry, the Package for Improving Education Quality program, or PIEQ, supplies these much-needed materials, serving about half the country, even in places where there are no roads, says Aben Ngay, project manager.
Civil strife has been the norm for decades in the DRC, and the nation is reeling from millions of civilian deaths and years of instability in all parts of society. During that time, educational progress was essentially immobilized, and in-service training for teachers was almost nonexistent, explains Ngay. “Most of the teachers are older and have not had any refresher course for 20–30 years during the conflicts,” he says.
EDC’s five-year project, sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is serving 30,000 teachers and about 1.5 million students in the targeted 3,000 schools. PIEQ offers interactive radio instruction (IRI) to improve students’ learning outcomes in French and math. In addition, primary schoolteachers use the toolkits to teach themselves new teaching practices and techniques. Parents are invited to join all planning and other activities.
PIEQ builds on the successes of an earlier program that improved education quality in grades 1 and 2, drawing on community participation, teacher professional development, IRI programming, and education policy support. Students in that program were nearly twice as likely to receive a passing grade or better in math as students in non-IRI schools, and nearly four times as likely to receive a passing grade or better in French.
Originally published on October 25, 2011