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Introduction of an EdTech intervention to support learning of foundational skills in Sierra Leone: policy, teacher, and community perspectives

Lurvink, Anne Fleur; Pitchford, Nicola

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Anne Fleur Lurvink

Professor of Developmental Psychology


Background: Like many other countries, Sierra Leone faces significant challenges with primary education resulting in many children leaving primary school without acquiring basic foundational skills. To address these challenges, an educational technology (EdTech) intervention was implemented in 20 primary schools located in two marginalized districts in Sierra Leone. While this EdTech intervention has been shown to raise learning outcomes, little is known about the impacts on the broader education ecosystem. This paper investigates how this EdTech intervention might address some the challenges faced with primary education in Sierra Leone, by examining policy, teacher, and community perspectives. Method: A mixed methods approach was employed which included a policy mapping exercise, a survey of teachers training needs in supporting the development of foundational skills with grade 1 learners, an interview with teachers after they had delivered the EdTech intervention to garner their perceptions and experiences of using the technology in their class, and focus groups with teachers and other community members to gain insights into how the EdTech intervention had been received. Results: Findings from the policy mapping exercise and quantitative data from the survey of teacher training needs were triangulated with qualitative data from the interviews and focus groups. Four key themes emerged relating to the effective and sustained use of this EdTech intervention to support the acquisition of foundational skills by primary school children in Sierra Leone: (1) the need for continued teacher professional development, (2) the use of English as the language of instruction, (3) access to the technology by children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and (4) the importance of active community engagement in supporting the intervention. Discussion: Collectively, results indicated that the EdTech intervention employed in this study aligned well to the education policy in Sierra Leone. Enhanced teacher training is needed, especially in using English as the language of instruction, and continued community engagement is essential for scaling the intervention effectively and ensuring that all children, including those with SEND, access the technology at primary school. These results have implications for other EdTech intervention deployed in resource-poor settings to enhance learning of foundational skills.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 20, 2023
Online Publication Date May 12, 2023
Publication Date May 12, 2023
Deposit Date May 12, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 17, 2023
Journal Frontiers in Education
Electronic ISSN 2504-284X
Publisher Frontiers Media SA
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Article Number 1069857
Keywords Radical inclusion, literacy and maths skills, teachers, local communities, educational technology, rights-based education
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