Summarizing Evidence Drawn from Low-Tech, Remote Education Interventions
Cross-posted from our collaborator, Learning Collider
From the onset of the pandemic-related school lockdowns, educators and parents worldwide have grappled with a common question: what now? But access to reliable internet and necessary hardware and software isn’t a given, particularly in developing countries.
Youth Impact (formerly Young1ove), an education nonprofit operating globally, developed an answer. Shortly after pandemic lockdowns hit Botswana, Youth Impact rolled out a remote, personalized math education program using the only technology available across most of the country: mobile phones. After an initial assessment to determine their skill level, students received — by text message — a set of math problems tailored to their skill level. Once per week, a local teacher called each student for a 20-minute personalized review session, focusing on the current set of problems and then preparing for the upcoming week.
Learning Collider collaborated with Youth Impact to design the randomized controlled trial (RCT) and examine its educational impacts. In a matter of weeks, the intervention’s potential was clear:
“…researchers found that after four weeks, participants substantially improved their math skills — the group that could do no math at all was cut in half.” From the NYTimes: For Kids at Home, ‘a Small Intervention Makes a Big Difference’
“Results provided some of the first experimental evidence during the pandemic on approaches to mitigating learning loss. Not only did it work, the intervention was also cheap and cost-effective, yielding the equivalent of over one year of high-quality instruction for every $100 spent.” From IMF’s Finance & Development June 2022 Issue: What the Pandemic Taught Educators
Findings from the first RCT in Botswana have been published in Nature Human Behavior. Replication RCTs, still ongoing, extended the program to Kenya, Nepal, India, Uganda and the Philippines.
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