Soma Umenye, Literacy Enhanced Across Rwanda Now
The Soma Umenye program, formerly known as the Literacy Enhanced Across Rwanda Now (LEARN) program, aims to improve local language reading skills of children in the first three years of primary school. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by Chemonics International, the program intends to improve educational outcomes through educator training for improved classroom instruction, mentoring, and supervision and through the provision of early grade reading materials and education assessments. It is being implemented in all public and public-assisted primary schools in Rwanda—about 2,500—in three phases. Implementation in Phase 1 began in January 2017 at the start of the new school year with about one-third of schools in Rwanda. Implementation will continue in Phase 2 in 2018 with another third of schools and in Phase 3 in 2019 with the remaining schools.
The impact evaluation of the program takes advantage of the phased implementation plan. Mathematica Policy Research partnered with International Business and Technical Consultants, Inc. to design a randomized controlled trial in which 416 sectors in Rwanda were randomly assigned to the three phases of implementation. Sectors are geographic units in Rwanda that govern clusters of schools. Schools in Phase 1 sectors will represent the intervention group and schools in Phase 3 sectors will represent the control group for the impact evaluation. The random assignment of sectors into phases took place in public events in mid-December 2016 before the program began. We collected student performance data using the Early Grade Reading Assessment tool and teacher instructional practices data using classroom observations in fall 2017 to assess impacts of the program after one year of implementation.