Girls' Reading Camps Show Potential for a Positive Impact on Learning in Kenya

In the face of school closures due to Covid-19, a study was conducted to explore the learning experiences of girls in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas of Kenya. The study investigated the impact of different learning methods, including reading camps, radio lessons, and paper-based resources, either alone or in combination. The study involved 640 girls in Turkana, Kilifi, Tana River, and Samburu and adopted a mixed-methods approach involving a survey, reading and mathematics assessments, and interviews and focus groups with girls, caregivers, and community members.

The reading camps were facilitated by remedial teachers contracted by the Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu (WWW) programme, with support from Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and mentors, mainly pupils at secondary school or university level.

Results suggest that reading camps combined with paper-based learning had the greatest impact on learning. The median scores for girls that used both modalities were 8.3 percentage points higher for reading and 17.6 percentage points higher for mathematics compared to girls who accessed neither.

Radio lessons were not associated with higher performance in reading and mathematics, except where girls listened to the radio in groups. The qualitative data suggested that barriers to listening to radio lessons, even when girls had radios in their households, limited the impact of radio lessons.

Some of these barriers cited from the girls participating in the focus group included:

  • Not having a literate adult at home to consult while studying 
  • An increase in domestic chores at home during the period of school closures
  • Frequent distraction from caregivers, siblings, and friends who demanded their time

Reading camps were found to have mitigated against the constraints of some girls not living with literate household members.

The peer-learning element of the reading camps was also a motivating factor that provided structure to girls’ days through prolonged school closures.

The study provides evidence that a combination of reading camps and paper-based resources has the potential to make a significant impact on learning, particularly for girls living in ASAL areas of Kenya.

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