It is not every day that people from 17 countries come together to learn, share and think about how to broaden the scope and reach of citizen-led efforts like the ASER survey. Since its inception, ASER has inspired parallel efforts in 12 countries.To date, the citizen-led assessment, CLA, model has been adapted for use in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. These countries form the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) network, committed to implementing and promoting household-based assessments of basic learning outcomes for children.
Pratham’s PACE Hotel in Aurangabad, Maharashtra has been abuzz with activity, conversation and excitement with the arrival of representatives from 17 countries for two landmark conferences. From June 4-7, the knowledge-sharing meet, ‘Introduction to Citizen-led Assessments’ was co-hosted by the Network for Education Quality Monitoring in Asia and the Pacific (NEQMAP), Pratham Education Foundation and ASER Centre. Participants included members from the Philippines, Lao, Vietnam, Bhutan and Mongolia with no prior experience of the CLA model. They spent four packed days learning the nuts and bolts of conducting a citizen-led survey, including a field visit for participants to get first-hand experience of testing children using the ASER tools. “In addition to learning from members of ASER and PAL Network, visits to the field were an enriching experience. I hope to take back many lessons from this workshop to help improve the learning assessment process back home,” said Professor Aminullah Amin, who leads the Learning Assessment Unit – Ministry of Education in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The last two days of the workshop witnessed the arrival of participants in the Leaders’ Meet of the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network. Together, participants of both workshops met Pratham co-founder Dr Madhav Chavan and under his direction, took part in a fun activity to help children (and themselves) learn about latitude and longitude. Later, Dr Chavan and Pratham CEO Dr Rukmini Banerji spoke to them about Pratham’s beginnings, evolution, and current programs. Towards the evening, participants had a chance to do field visits to Pratham program sites. Sharon Lumbanraja, a member of the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction in Indonesia, had this to say about the field visit: “At the learning camp we visited yesterday, I got to watch how children are engaged in the learning process, instead of being forced into learning. I also watched as volunteers mobilized community members all the while enjoying the process. This was definitely one of the highlights of this workshop.” The two days of overlap between the veterans of citizen led assessment and the newest countries to be exposed to the model provided rich opportunities for interactions in both formal and informal settings.
Over the next three days, PAL Network leaders will discuss and reflect on the various country-specific assessments, their design and challenges, and future plans, setting the stage for more action to follow! “The impact of Pratham and ASER Centre’s efforts on communities is obvious. I have learnt a lot from their hands-on approach of working with community members – parents, teachers and children – to improve children’s learning,” said Mary Goretti, Country Lead, Twaweza East Africa. For the full list of workshop participants, click here. Read NEQMAP's blog post on the two conferences. View photos of the conference. Read ASER Pakistan's Muhammed Usman describe his experience of his visit to India.