Amidst Obstacles, Testing the Literacy of Pakistani Children

The local Pakistani data collectors got up at 3 a.m. and then drove for three hours into far-off towns in Gilgit–Baltistan, Sindh or Balochistan. Some then walked another hour to their assigned schools.

Efforts have been thwarted by other obstacles. On one occasion, a flood caused 50 percent of data collectors to drop out the week before a crucial training. The team was forced to replace 75 crucial personnel in 48 hours. An earthquake complicated another round of scheduled collections.

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Child literacy testing in remote region of Pakistan

Along the way, the team has had to plan for setbacks and the unexpected. The team also planned for backup schools if the original schools became unavailable. They ended up having to use all of these schools.

This is but one glimpse into the arduous process of collecting data in Pakistan, contributing to the most comprehensive and largest testing that has ever been completed to date. Using the EGRA or the Early Grade Reading Assessment, the team is testing 31,000 children across all eight provinces, territories and areas of Pakistan.

The data is contributing to a baseline on the literacy of Pakistani children to inform USAID on the effectiveness of its education programming.

To date, the team has trained 550 local Pakistanis on data collection, with some of them graduating and becoming part of the project’s quality control team. Different local partners are used in each district for security and assurance of correct data. The project also works with School to School International to develop the sampling and adapt the EGRA tool.

Our team has also built up the capacity of local partners to deal with setbacks and problems.

The Pakistan EGRA is being implemented under a USAID-funded project that supports monitoring and evaluation services. The project provides monitoring, verification, and evaluation services to USAID, covering USAID-supported programs.

Previously our USAID-funded Pakistan M&E project covered the $4 billion portfolio of USAID/Pakistan, spanning 100 projects.

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