UNICEF Project for Capacity Building in Literacy and Numeracy to Improve Student Learning Outcomes

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Project Goal:
Deepen participant’s understanding of quality mathematics and language instruction in order for them to be more effective trainers and teachers

Timeframe:
Start Date: 1 March 2010 / Completion Date: 30 May 2012

Funding: UNICEF, Skopje – http://www.unicef.org/tfyrmacedonia/index.html

Project stakeholders:
Primary school teachers from Grade 1-4

Project summary:
In a 2002-2003 survey comparing combined scores from three international tests – the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) – the lowest on absolute disadvantage [1] of the nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE & CIS) that participated. Specifically, Macedonia ranked 29 out of 38 countries on the TIMSS administered to Grade 8 students; 29 out of 35 countries on the PIRLS administered to Grade 4 students; and 37 out of 41 countries on the PISA. Also, the scores on both national assessments for mathematics and language in Macedonia [2] show low results, compared with Macedonian teachers, educational experts and educational official’s expectations. The background data from international and national assessment reports show that a big impact on student’s mathematics achievement has the implemented curricula (how the prescribed curriculum is implemented by teachers in their classrooms).

In December 2009 a baseline study for numeracy and in December 2010 a baseline study for literacy were conducted. Results from both baseline studies show that the teacher’s knowledge and skills for teaching early mathematics, reading and writing are very important for better students’ achievement. Especially, the teaching pedagogy and methodology for mathematics and language. These studies show that teachers achieved much lower than expected results on test items that measure subject knowledge (in mathematics) and methodological and pedagogical subject knowledge in teaching situations (in mathematics and languages). The need for better teachers’ preparation trough in-service training, and in pre-service replication teachers’ education is identified and recommended.

As a result of above mentioned, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Bureau for Development of Education, agreed to work together on strengthening the capacity of the education system in Macedonia, more specifically the capacity of teachers to deliver high quality mathematics and language instruction to students in grades 1, 2 and 3. The project Building Teacher Capacity in Literacy and Numeracy to Improve Student Learning Outcomes, in the early grades in Macedonia started with Mathematics and Language National Trainers Training workshop organized by UNICEF, with the aim to deepen participant’s understanding of quality mathematics and language instruction in order for them to be more effective trainers and teachers. The national trainers are responsible to improve their own teaching, to disseminate the training in their respective schools, and to train other teachers on a national level. The national trainers started training of other teachers in two phases: Phase 1 is the phase when the national trainers (mathematics and language) applied new knowledge and concepts in their own classrooms and trained lower grade teachers from 33 schools, and Phase 2 is the phase when the national trainers disseminated the training to 44 primary schools in lower grades (mathematics). Up-to-date total 77 primary schools were involved in mathematics training and 33 primary schools in language Phase 1 training. This project will support Phase 3 and 4 in the mathematics component and Phase 2 and 3 in language component.

During the trainings, as well as during the application of the new Literacy and Numeracy programs within the primary schools the need of replication of both numeracy and literacy programs with teaching staff at the teacher training faculties was emphasized. The faculties teaching staff (in the 4 pedagogical faculties in Macedonia: “St. Kiril and Metodij” in Skopje, “St.Kliment Ohridski” in Bitola, “Goce Delcev” in Stip and the Faculty of Philosophy at the State University Tetovo) need to be introduced to the concept and structure of the Literacy and Numeracy Program for the primary schools, so the continuity is provided for the pre-service training of the future primary school teachers. In 2010, a two-day workshop was facilitated by UNICEF international trainers for faculties’ teaching staff in aim to introduce them to the Literacy and Numeracy programs. At this workshop the structure, principles and concepts of the Literacy and Numeracy programs were presented to the pedagogical faculties teaching staff that teaches subjects related to literacy and numeracy. According to the pedagogical faculties teaching staff’s feedback the Literacy and Numeracy Program for the primary school curriculum is of big relevance within the context of the pre-service programs for training the future primary school teachers. In order to deepen the Literacy and Numeracy program at the pedagogical faculties it is necessary to intensify the activities for extending the capacity of the pedagogical faculties’ teaching staff through implementing more activities and workshops, as well as Numeracy and Literacy modules/syllabuses within related subjects’ curriculums.

The proposed approach will ensure that until end of May 2012, total number of 198 schools will be involved in numeracy training, which means that about 60% from all primary schools will be reached, and total number of 139 schools will be involved in literacy trainings, which means that about 40% from all school will be reached.



[1] The concept of absolute disadvantage refers to being at a low level of achievement relative to a common international benchmark.

[2] National assessment 2001 for grade 4 students and National assessment 2006 for grade 8 students.