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Adedeji Adeniran Reflects on the Learning Crisis and Adopting a Systems Lens to Study and Address It
Episode 2227th October 2023 • The RISE Podcast • Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE)
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In this episode, RISE research fellow Julius Atuhurra speaks to Dr. Adedeji Adeniran, the Director of Research at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA)–a Nigerian think tank. Adedeji explains CSEA’s education research journey that has evolved from an initial focus on education financing to studying more nuanced topics, including: education system diagnosis, data quality, community engagement, policy analysis tools, and curriculum effectiveness. He highlights the need to fully grasp what transpires inside the classroom and how that is influenced by interactions happening outside the classroom. He also explains RISE Nigeria’s primary focus on demand-side actors and discusses findings from their recent study on primary-level curriculum effectiveness in Nigeria.


Adedeji Adeniran (webpage)

Instructional Alignment in Nigeria using the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (working paper) by Adeniran, Onyekwere, Okon, Atuhurra, Chaudhry, and Kaffenberger

The State of Global Learning Poverty: 2022 update (report) by UNESCO, UNICEF, FCDO, USAID and BMGF

Understanding Education Policy Preferences: Survey Experiments with Policymakers in 35 Developing Countries (working paper) by Crawfurd, Hares, Minardi, and Sandefur

Imagine a World Where Innovations Could Save the Lives of 2 Million More Mothers and Babies. BMGF 2023 Goalkeepers Report (report) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Financing Basic Education in Nigeria: What are the Feasible Options? (working paper) by Onyekwena, Uzor, Oloko, and Adeniran

Improving Basic Education Outcomes in Nigeria. Effectiveness, Accountability and Equity Issues (working paper) by Onyekwena, Adekunle, Eleanya, and Taiwo

Understanding cost-effectiveness and benefit-cost analysis using data on school feeding and education assistance programmes in Nigeria (journal article) by Uneze and Tajudeen

Is Nigeria Experiencing a Learning Crisis: Evidence from curriculum-matched learning assessment (journal article) by Adeniran, Ishaku, and Akanni

Is Nigeria on track to achieving quality education for all? Drivers and implications (working paper) by Adeniran, Onyekwena, Onubedo, Ishaku, Ekeruche

Policy Deliberation, Social Contracts, and Education Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from Enugu State, Nigeria (insight note) by Nweke, Ogwuike, and Iheonu

Guest biography

Adedeji Adeniran

Adedeji Adeniran is the Director of Research at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA). He holds a PhD from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He also holds a Masters’ and Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Educational Management/Economics from the University of Ibadan. He previously worked as a seasonal Lecturer in the Department of Witwatersrand, as a Data Analyst at the Analyst Data Services and Resources(ADSR) and as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Economics University of Ibadan. His research interests cuts across macroeconomics,development finance,public economics and policy analysis and experimental economics.

Julius Atuhurra

Julius Atuhurra is a Research Fellow for the RISE programme at the Blavatnik School of Government. His work focuses on educational development, specifically curricula effectiveness analyses and iterative adaptation of local solutions to the learning crisis in developing countries. He recently completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Prior to that, he worked at Twaweza East Africa, a regional civil society organisation operating in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Early in his career, Julius worked at Uganda’s national tax body from where he moved to Japan to pursue postgraduate studies and subsequently altered his career path switching focus from public finance to international development. 


The continuation of the RISE Podcast has been made possible through funding from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford supports the production of the RISE Podcast.

Producers: Julius Atuhurra and Katie Cooper

Audio Editing: James Morris


RISE Programme:

Hello and welcome to the RISE podcast series, where we aim to explore the stories behind education, research and practice as part of the multi-country Research on Improving Systems of Education endeavour, funded by UK Aid, Australian Aid, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Julius Atuhurra:

Welcome to this episode of the RISE podcast. My name is Julius Atuhurra, a Research Fellow on the RISE Programme. Today, I'm hosting Dr. Adedeji Adeniran, who is the Director of Research at the Center for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), based in Abuja, Nigeria. CSEA is an organisation committed to contributing to better policies on the continent by bridging the existing critical research gaps in various thematic areas, including human capital development. In this episode, Deji and I focus on CSEA's basic education research. We touch on the journey that has seen the centre's education work evolve over time, unlocking the full potential value of data in diagnosing and solving the learning crisis in the sub-Saharan African region, while asking some really as data questions, touching on opening up of the black box that the classroom still is. We also touched on CSEA's collaborative work with RISE, including findings from the recently published paper on primary curriculum effectiveness in Nigeria, and Deji's highlighting of the importance of goal coherence across education system actors in the region. Deji thank you for making time for this conversation. And welcome to the RISE podcast.

Adedeji Adeniran:

Thank you, Julius. I'm very happy to be here this afternoon. And I hope we have a nice conversation around the education sector in Africa.

Julius Atuhurra:

Absolutely. I'm really excited to talk to you today. Most of all, because I've had a few opportunities in the last two years to experience aspects of some of your education work in West Africa that we are going to touch on today. So let's start with your organisation, the Center for the Study of the Economies of Africa, and its education work in Nigeria. What is the primary focus of this work and how did it come about? Also, our listeners might also appreciate learning a bit about your engagement with other education actors in Nigeria and the region.

Adedeji Adeniran:

Thank you so much, Julius. The Centre for Study of Economies of Africa (we like to call ourselves CSEA) when we started about 15 years ago, we actually focused on public financial management and macroeconomic tracking as our core kind of objectives. Because we look at the policy space in Nigeria, we see that as kind of the major issues that in terms of, I mean, we talk about governance corruptions, and some of the real big reforms at that point in time has always focused on public sector reforms and public financial management reforms. And so that's actually why CSEA was established as an institution that can actually support capacity of public institutions in that aspect. When we speak, even whether in any sector, education, health, or whatever sector, we speak about how our approach has always been, I mean, in the initial phase of the organization, around financial requirements to achieve a goal, or the financial problem or financing gap. And so the question or the answers to most questions has always revolved around financing. And when we started actually working on education, I mean, looking at the education sector in Nigeria, that's also the kind of a starting point for us, we started by asking the question, "What are the financial needs to Nigeria (for example, meeting MDGs), what are the financial gaps that the country is facing in the aspects?" And we were really really thinking at that point in time that financing is the problem because we put the number, then we need a huge amount of both domestic resources and donor resources in order to achieve MDGs then. And even when the conversation around SDGs started because we participated as part of Think Tank in Global South in putting our contribution out, in what should be as part of SDGs? I recall vividly, that's how I was working on that aspect of the work at CSEA then, and our focus was what are the financing structure needs to look like for a country to meet SDGs? And we're talking about the role of domestic finance and the role of private sector and all of that. But when we started, I mean when that shift came about in terms of when CSEA started working around SDGs. I think the realization came to us that it's beyond financing, that there are other things that are important for us to achieve a goal. And what started our conversation is our work, we started tracking SDGs in various sectors, and one of the sectors we initially started to track is education. And we have the question: What is the data need, in terms of key development indicators to say Nigeria is moving up or down on track to achieve SDG 4, for example? What data do we have? And what do we need to achieve in terms of follow up, and we find that as okay, even the number in terms of financing is not just enough, we need something more. I mean, we need to understand a lot more in terms of the structural systemic issues that is really, really being faced. I mean, we have teacher development and deployment, we have the classroom situation, we have students' preparedness in terms of maybe access to nutrition, preschool issue, we have government in terms of even when resources are available. Maybe we are not deploying into places that actually can really maximize the students' outcomes. So when we look at all of that problem, I think that really was the starting point for CSEA, in terms of trying to search deeper into what the problem of education sector, in a country like Nigeria looks like. And when we started this process, the first thing we realized is the issue of data. Because then wanted to track SDGs. And I found out that most of the data we talked about, really, there is actually even more data that can really say this is how much kids are learning at the end of primary schools. And the most of the data set that we speak about, like the big we call it a WAEC African examination center. These are something of interest to most people, because it's it's what everybody wants to really we rank sometimes states in Nigeria around is it performing very well and or not. This very high stick examinations it's actually what we speak to before. But now there is more realization the fact that that doesn't really tell you the extent of the problem, because there are many situation that literature has already identified around high stakes exams. So when we look at available data like DHS, I mean, it's not really rigorous enough to really speak to what is going on because of also many limitations around the dataset. So what we ended up in our search is to first of all, try to look and catalog the existing datasets on education system, and to say this is what's each of them is speaking to, and in most cases, most of them are not speaking up doesn't give you enough information to say this is the state of education for you to even write either track SDGs or even do anything around learning crisis. So what we started doing is look at that such datasets, and maybe with some more kind of how can we tease out more information beyond this obvious. So for example, we have a dataset called Nigeria education, data Savi nets. And that data itself, when you look at it, it says, "Oh, 55% performance rate among people that finish among people in primary schools". And we pick that as "Okay". When you look at what is tested and the curriculum, there is a very big mismatch. If we really centered this assessment to what has been taught in classrooms, or centered around assessment, which means expected proficiency to what's the pass rate is, we are getting a number around 17% in terms of performance rate. So that gives us the sense that we really, really, I mean, the data is not given us the full picture. And I think the starting points of what we started doing is advocacy around better data to track performance indicators. And more importantly, we also started talking about the need for to dive deep into harder issues other than finance. What are the issue around inquiries? What are the teaching issues or random teachers? What are the issues around other actors, for example, the demand side actors, communities. Also, there are many innovations and interventions, both locally and donor driven. And all of these interventions, we started that really becoming interested in how have they changed the landscape of education in Nigeria. And I think that's a sort of story of CSEA in terms of starting up as a public financial management kind of heart look, to more kind of rigorous education. How the query by Africans becomes what happens within the education value chain, across the key actors, rather than just talking about government needs to pump in money. So what's do we even what's even the problem? I think, that there has been I joined in terms of research around education system in Nigeria. The other aspects is around high engagement with key stakeholders in the Nigerian sphere. And, I mean, one thing to recognize about Nigeria is the big country. I mean, it's the largest country in Africa. But it's also a federating kind of units. We have the central government, we have 36 state, we have 70-74, local government, and all of these play a role in education sector. But even more importantly, when you look at the basic education structure, it actually is a role. That's it's the subnationals, the state and local government that played a huge role in terms of management, even establishment of most of these institutions. So we then have a situation whereby, I mean, as an institution, we are based in Abuja, but cover work is actually going on across the states. Sometimes, we can't be in all of the states, but what we try to do a work with prioritized partnership. So in the Nigeria ecosystem, we partners with other set of actors, some actors actually have penetration at some part of the country, and we work with them. More also, we partners with academia, with also upcoming researchers. They're also working in different aspects in these various places such that we build a community that speak to themselves. And we can address the problem of education sector in Nigeria, as a whole. But more importantly, on CC walk, on our walk we've tried to prioritize, curating not just we doing research, we take the part of policy engagement and communication, very serious. And what we do in this aspect is when all almost of our research, we don't just disseminate, it's sitting down in Abuja, or doing webinars. We actually go into these communities to actually integrate our communication and dissemination strategy, whereby we speak directly to people affected by this work, and what is happening. But also, we leverage the fact that sometimes research beaut on evidence, what I mean by that is that we do a research and we find this big evidence, I mean, these big findings doesn't constitute an evidence. We want it because we know that our work needs to actually be linked with other work. When we see stronger evidence, imagine in the literature. I think we also play the role of advocates, whereby we work developing tools for governments that they could or policymakers, or even other stakeholders, we create tools that they could actually use in sometimes addressing the problem. And we have some tools like the learning trajectory tools, we've curated. So all of that we are working together to make sure that we could better work with other key stakeholders in the Nigerian settings, in order to draw all the points of what our research is that there is a learning crisis. And there is need for more synergies between everyone to work together in terms of address.

Julius Atuhurra:

Thank you. That's quite exciting. It's an exciting journey that CSEA has been through and an adaptation journey, actually, you're starting out with a focus on public financing and education and then transitioning into focus on data, and not just data, but the quality of the data too. So all this complexity to have Nigeria as a federal system and what that brings along. And in emphasizing that actually, the point that we usually forget is the complexity of education work. By design, in that, we usually tend to reduce education work or everything that happens around learning into what goes on inside the classroom. But this issue of the complexity of the structure in Nigeria, really brings back or highlights what is at the heart of the work that RISE has been doing, looking at the education system as a system that is composed of very many actors, and actors that are interacting in many different ways. And all these interactions being very important for children's learning. Now, let's take a deeper dive into the problem of low learning in the Global South. And specifically, zeroing in on the sub Saharan African region. According to the World Bank's learning poverty measures, over 90% of 10 year olds in the region cannot read a simple sentence with meaning. And as I've mentioned earlier, at RISE, we view this crisis through a systems lens. What's your take about the low levels of learning in this region? And what is your point of departure? If any, regarding how, how you view what is necessary for a thorough diagnosis of the learning crisis that's affecting the sub Saharan African region?

Adedeji Adeniran:

Okay, thanks. I mean, as someone that lives on the continent, and being also someone that actually has been part of the system, and as a parent, and also in some very aspect as a key stakeholder in the sector. I mean, it's worrisome when you look at that number. And you see, there are many, I mean, many perspectives to look at it. I mean, and I think you might have seen a study that actually asks policymakers to look at the extent of the problem in the context. And they said, almost all of them on the estimates, the level of the problem, based on the data that they were provided, on the question around the national crisis in Africa, I mean, the number is quite worrisome. And for someone based on the continent, as a parent, and as a researcher, I think it's is a question you really try to grapple with around. Why do we have such big numbers not learning? And why does it take even so long for us to start talking about it? And you see, one thing you, you could have seen, and I think the literature paints this picture, there is a recent study that shows that policymakers, they underestimate the level of the learning crisis. And that perspective of denying or trying or not fully grasping the problem, I think, is part of the data crisis I mentioned. Because sometimes, we don't actually know this data, or the way we actually will approach this data is in a way that underestimates some of the numbers. And so we don't actually see the full picture. And that affects in terms of whatever we do. So one example I can give for that is, when you look at what's the number in terms of learning, or tracking learning, the policymakers do refer to, in most instances, is actually the school children, children in school. But if you want to really know the level of learning in your country, it's actually the condition of both those in school and those out of school. And so when you look at this picture vividly, you see clearly that there is a lot of things we need to do because learning crisis, in a way, it's also the data crisis. What I mean by data crisis is the fact that the story around learning crisis, we begin to actually appreciate it. And we begin to even talk about the problem more, because now we have a way to track learning. And we have a consensus or a measurement and we have a consensus about what do we need to even improve upon when 10 years ago look at it, I mean, this week, the Gates Foundation released the goalkeepers report, but if you check the health part of the report in 2015/2016, if you move to the pattern SDG four, there is a gender indicator being tracked because we didn't actually even have a consensus around measurement then, when now when we start to measure this thing, I think one obvious thing to highlight is the fact that most of the people, what we should not be discouraged around the point of learning crisis first is the fact that even data still shows that people in school are still learning more than those out of school. So in as much as we have the learning crisis, being in school is still better. But what we need to do is address this in-school problem around our, can we make our school system better and speak better to people, to young people, that are passing to the system. And in that sense, I think we need to really speak about assessment data. Because most times, I mean, we could speak to large scale assessments. And the availability of these really, really accepts in that conversation. However, going forward to, it might not be the only thing to really think about in terms of assessment. Just about two months ago, we just completed a survey, whereby we're doing assessment practices in Nigerian schools, and we surveyed about 100 schools. And one of the revelant findings from that work is the fact that in schools, the only assessment teachers really relate to is more of exams and tests. Most times the number of times this is conducted is one or two, right? I mean, these are public schools. Quizzes are not assessments are not really, really engaged. I mean, they don't engage student in this area. And so you find the fact that, in most instances, we don't even know what is going on in schools. And when we talk about large scale assessments also, sometimes teachers peer a community, they don't relate to this reason being that it doesn't speak to them. When you talk about how many people are learning in Nigeria, that's Nigeria. But how many people are learning in my classrooms? How many people are learning in my community? Is my child learning what it should claim in school? Sometimes we don't actually speak I mean, comfortably these facts to these key stakeholders. And so part of what we need to do in in addressing the problem is not just to look at just what assessment has the key, I think we need to talk about classroom assessment better. We also need to talk about how do we speak and show that the classrooms and what is going on outside the classroom as speaking to one another? And I'm saying that assessment, but it's also extend beyond just assessment. We need to say, okay, a teacher in the classroom situation, what are the factors influencing what he does in the classrooms? If we understand that factors very well, I think outside actors, which in many places, we do all sorts of things. If we understand classroom better, we'll know what we need to bring, and how we need to actually have the two actors in that sentence. I mean, the teachers and the children, we need to help them but we need to understand what is going on there for you to help, but bring in an outside help, because you think that's the best. Without understanding fully what is going on in the classroom, I think it will be creating more problem and less solution. And that's part of what we should start thinking vividly about. What can we do to help teachers children in the classroom settings? What can we do to even unpack what is going on in the classroom? If we can do that, I think we will start addressing the problem.

Julius Atuhurra:

Thank you. Thank you. So they're all the types of, of data, especially the assessment data, and the roles that each of these different assessments plays is critically important. Yeah, I do. I can relate to the fact that parents might not really make a lot of sense out of large scale assessments, because probably they are not, they don't relate to how they see the learning. Most of the times you find that parents are only thinking about whether their children have passed the exam and if that exam has allowed them to progress to the next grade that is meaningful, but if you do a large scale assessment that doesn't have those associated high stakes, probably parents are not going to use that. So that's quite important and also that on other aspects of learning as you have highlighted, it's quite an important aspect. Now I would like to build on where you, you just end up talking about what happens inside the classroom. And I've heard you use the analogy at some point of referring to the classroom as a black box to describe as you describe the processes take place inside the classroom. And I would like to first ask you what happens inside classrooms in Nigeria? And then also, why is it important to open this classroom? Black Box? And well, first of all, how do you also do it? How do you open that black box of the classroom?

Adedeji Adeniran:

Big question. So I mean, the analogy of black box, I think, speak to two things. When you talk about black box use, you look at something that you don't know what is inside, right. But we also know that the black box is more than that. I mean, when playing when the crashed black box is actually where you know, what is going on. So the I, I mean, that analogy is just to speak to the fact that first we don't know what is going on. I mean, sometimes policymakers, especially researchers, we don't actually have that kind of grasp of classroom, because it's not an economic question. It's actually an education sector question, is a society question. It's, it's a lot of factors beyond just research and research kind of as economics in that aspect. So that black box is important. And the other aspect of the analogy is the fact that you can actually not know or improve what has gone on I mean, there is a crisis, just like we have a plane crash, if you want to know what happened in that crash, that black box, you need to find it, know what is inside. And that will reveal to you the problem. And that's actually the analogy of why classrooms, the black box and that we need to actually unfold what is going on there for us to actually solve the problem. And this is it. If you look at classroom setting very well, we have two key actors: the teachers, the students, and the interaction between them. However, you find that almost all other agents are trying to influence one or two of these, of these things. It's either a curriculum body trying to influence teacher and what is being taught, or someone talking about pedagogy, whereby, okay, how the teaching process should be also on set in terms of time, duration of even class settings, or parents providing, making sure that the child comes to school, providing the right nutrition and food, system, mental health and everything for the child to be present in school. I mean, not just been in school, but present, mentally in school, I mean, also government. So all of these factors, they try to influence these agents. But, I mean, when we talked about assessment, you know, it had an influence on the teachers, because it was the teachers, all that matters is the extent to which your words pass the exam, as a school system, what you actually being evaluates is, is that this kind of end of the cycle examination and how much your school is performed. If we're speak to that, it also means that what happened in the classroom is really influenced by assessments that they will face in future. So, what we are saying is that how almost how all of these actors or actions you can think of, they actually have a way of influencing what is going on in the classroom. And if we understand clearly what is going on in that aspect, it is when we can actually know whether a solution will work or not. So the idea is lets know the interactions or the influence that they have on this school system, or the classroom settings and practices. When we know that action, then we can actually start evaluating any intervention to what extent will they improve or destroy those kinds of interactions that exist then. And I think that's the starting conversation for really talking about addressing learning crisis is we understanding that black box, probing into heat, seeing what we could learn, and using and designing innovations, I learned that

Julius Atuhurra:

it's a very important one. It's a very important point of the different actors interacting together, for learning to take place. And especially when you think of the various actors in a system. It's quite a broad array of different actors coming together. So this really ties in nicely with where we began talking about your engagement with various actors, such as engaging different actors in the Nigerian context and in the Nigerian setup. And the RISE Programme emphasizes relationships and interactions within the system. So, over the years, your organization has partnered with RISE on education work in Nigeria? What have you learned from this partnership, collaboration? And if I can ask about your recently published work, I know that recently, you've put out a paper on the effectiveness of the primary curriculum in Nigeria, could you briefly also explain the strand of work and share its key findings?

Adedeji Adeniran:

Thank you, I mean RISE Nigeria, the work back then, and as part of the RISE Nigeria, was quite high open, because the work actually centered around the role of demand side actors. And we try to actually look at not just what government can do more, but what society could do more. And that's actually looking at the role of politics. We look at the role of school management boards, we look at the role of parents, and we even look at historical past whereby, I mean, I came into Nigeria, and how community and key individuals the role they play in the transmission of that education sector. And we track the persistent effect of education over time, within the society, and how all of that paint the picture in terms of historically, education propagation in Nigeria, and I will say, for most African countries, has actually been a kind of a demand side push both in terms of demand in terms of the politics, maybe true, people may have been clamoring to their voices on the key stakeholders to demand for more education, or even society themselves, setting up resources, and playing the role in actually improving or ensuring that school is established, and school is well governed. And schools school system can promote the values of the community. And also, the community cannot be part of that conversation around. Because, I mean, at some point in time, everybody, were like, education is key. So every society, every community wants to be part of it. And that's actually the story of education in Nigeria that was taught in this work. Right. And we are telling that story, I think, to paint the picture for the fact that maybe when we are talking about learning crisis, also, there remains a role for the society needs to play, I mean, a role for parent in terms of support, but also in terms of even monitoring and tracking progress. Community and parents could play that role very vividly. They've played it in the past, and they could still continue to play that role. I think one aspects that was quite interesting in the Nigeria RISE was the deliberative forums that were organized as part of trying to understand the political economy of politics and and education reforms in Nigeria. And this deliberative forums, meetings, we have to bring various stakeholders, parents will be there, government representative will be there. community representatives will be there. All these key stakeholders, they meet together, and they discourse and reach consensus around pouty for education sector within their community. And over time, we then track how that kind of deliberation the influence it has, in terms of participation in education sector, maybe I am likely to be more involved in for example, school management, but the influence is even hard on the politicians in terms of improving on their commitment, in terms of even the way they engage with the community. So that's actually what we tried to study as part of that work. And I think I can really summarize the RISE research Nigeria RISE working in this way. It's actually about understanding the role of demand side actors, but I think it's also telling us about how we need to think of the learning crisis, as not just one side of the equation, not the government, everybody needs to play a role. So we actually bring in to that conversation, those roles that community has played, and can play it in educational reforms, the roles the parent has played, and can continue to play in education sector. And I think that's actually the focal point of the Nigerian RISE work. And I think the other aspect of it is, the workers actually also evolved. So much like, we are not just looking at what is happening to this key actors. We are also looking at the classroom settings. And not just looking at the classroom settings to assessment alone, because it's not just assessment that takes place in the classroom teaching takes place, but not just the teaching, they learn. There are many things that takes the so part of that work is what we just published on this Surveys of Enacted Curriculum, and trying to elicit what is going on in classroom because what I mean when you have the question, initially, about what is going on in the classrooms? And how do you know what is even going on. So we have enacted curriculum as a systematic way to unravel that. And the idea here is very simple. It tells horse that when you talk about curriculum, don't think about curriculum as just one, this format document produced, and everybody's really, really trying to implement and address it. Think about curriculum in different dimensions. And we can think about it in four dimensions. The first one is the intended curriculum, how the former curriculum, that document that government produced and the labor led curriculum, right? Well, we can also think about it, how government want that curriculum to be implemented. And so sort of Teacher's Guide of textbooks, that really supports this former document in terms of how it will be translated to, from the visual of the drafter of the curriculum, to what really is being taught within the classrooms. That's actually one aspect of it the intended curriculum. However, we cannot assume that what is intended, is the same thing as what is being taught in the classroom. Everything may be covered, a subset may be covered, or even something that may be covered. And that's why we refer to the part of the curriculum that is implemented in the classroom as the enacted curriculum. And the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum is actually trying to survey that path. But it's doing more than that. It's also looking at another aspect, which is what has been taught is not everything that the children also grasped, for various reason. To them that incentivism is a fact for what they are learning in school, maybe because of foundational knowledge that they are lacking, they might not actually be picking out what is being taught. They may be distracted, all sorts of things could happen. So for that reason, it's also important to differentiate between the enacted one and the learned curriculum. And the last part of the curriculum to really think about is what we call the assess curriculum. Again, we can sometimes really think that assessment is based on curriculum, but in most instances, we need to actually have to ask that question and we need to interrogate so they assess curriculum is the part of the intended curriculum, or enacted curriculum that has been assessed. And what we want to know, is the fact that if you look at all these various curriculum, it is actually been different actors are responsible, intended curriculum, the curriculum bodies, the government, are involved in curating that they enacted curriculum revolves around the teachers. The learning curriculum involves around the kids and their own capacity. And they assess curriculum evolve around the examination bodies, and each of these actors, if we don't actually understand both the intention and to what extent is speaking to one another, and we just assumed that oh, they are speaking to one another. I think that might be a problem that might create a problem. And that could be the source of incoherence we speak about in education system. And so why we actually picked because our interests really moved towards understanding that black box I refer to. I think, then we'll look around and see what kind of methodology enables us to really penetrate that and I think we find the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum to be very innovative technology and director. So we embarked on our research to apply that technique to study what is going on between classrooms, curriculum assessments in Nigeria. And I think the findings really justify why that kind of work is needed among developing countries going forward in terms of really likely what's going on in the classroom. So in the maintenance study, what we find is that, first, when you look at the intended curriculum, and the inactive curriculum, there is actually a high degree of correlation, which means there is an overlap. I mean, teachers are really teaching a lot of what is in the curriculum. Also, when you look at the assessed curriculum, and the curriculum itself from a curriculum, again, you see the fact that is drawn from one another. But when you look at the learning curriculum, in terms of student performance is quite low. So because this analysis enables us to see where there is much a mismatch, what we'll find is the fact that there is difference between procedural learning and conceptual learning. And that is actually implicit in the curriculum. I mean, the curriculum moves from procedure to conceptual skills, and expectation is also of that in the classrooms have that in the assessment, but that's actually not what we find, we find that that teachers actually the high correlation, high alignment that we see is between that procedural part of the enacted curriculum and the procedural part of the curriculum. And so there's a degree of correlation at the procedural level, and weak correlation in the conceptual level. And so when kids are tested in those conceptual paths, the pass rate is low, when they are tested on on that, the procedural part, the performance is relatively better. So we already seen the picture that it's not just an alignment, in those, these two, it has to be aligned in a way that generates the highest educational performance level, which means it needs to be aligned at the right level. And I think the alignment we want to see is the conceptual alignment between, from the intended curriculum to the enacted one to the learning one and to the assessed word. And that's actually what we are not saying. And so again, that gives us a sense of what is going on in the classroom in terms of more emphasis on the procedure, less emphasis on the conceptual and because of that most of the learning crisis use, I mean, when you now measure performance, in that way, you see low performance, because it's not working in a way it's intended, because we intended, you move from procedure to the conceptual, but if there is not a movement, for many reasons, maybe it's just incompetence, maybe the teacher not even spending the right quality of time, maybe the kids are absent for most time in order to make that jump. If there is no direct jump, we still continue to say the national crisis we have it. So if we have actually no embark on that research, you will have said, Okay, let's increase the number of hours from one to two, let's do this intervention. But when you understand that, it is more about what is going on in the classrooms. So I think it makes us to ask the right question, "Do the teachers have the right pedagogical knowledge? Do the teachers have the right content skills?" Right? In order to actually even have the student come into the classroom, were they were prepared in terms of concentration? Have they eaten? As simple as that question can be revealing. I mean, do they have the even the foundational skills, what they need to know before actually even were introducing this concept to them? All of that needs to actually be well understood. And I think that's kind of question we've started asking, in terms of why is that that gap between why even teachers are not transitioning to this higher level? Why did they concentrate on this higher level even that's when curriculum predict that they will not have moved? So in a way we're seeing those kinds of gap, and that's actually for all the vocab points for intervention.

Julius Atuhurra:

It's a very, very nuanced conversation, Deji, listening to the insights that you've picked from this latest study. Thank you for sharing those very recently minded insights from your study. It brings concreteness, this methodology that you describe brings concreteness to what you have been describing as the black box inside the classroom. And really helps I mean, this exponentially give from procedural to conceptual. So many times we really find that we think that if children are able to repeat what they've been told, or be able to solve the same question that they were taught, so then that's learning, but what you're saying now is that the children should be able to take what they have learned to do procedurally, and translate it into their real life, so that if you if you change the question, but remained on the same principles of what was taught, they should be able to translate that and understand then you can understand that the concept has actually been grasped. It's really, really insightful and quite anyone's conversation, and a call to reimagine the goals, the structure, the design of the primary curriculum, the education curriculum itself, and also to, I think, also teachers, they have a big, I mean, in a setting like Nigeria, and men of all countries in sub Saharan African region, where exams are everything. And the exams come at the end of the cycle, I can imagine how tough it is to, to change the perspective of the teacher, to focus on the conceptual if the exams, for example, are focusing mainly on the procedure. Thank you so much Deji for sharing these insights, very centrally minded insights, I must emphasize, as someone also who was involved in similar studies in East Africa, it is quite exciting to see these systems, the instructional coherence studies taking root and spreading ever broader in the sub Saharan African region. I think these studies are quite revealing. That brings us to the final part of this podcast, that point at which we ask our guests this question: What is the one thing you wish other people knew about the education system in Nigeria, or education systems in Sub Saharan Africa?

Adedeji Adeniran:

So if there's something I would like to really, really be vocal about, about the education system in Africa, it's just say that first, when we talk about the learnbing crisis, it's a journey for us, right? We have this big system, that for a long period of time, there is a string of measurements. And all of a sudden, we've been doing all sorts of things we've been emphasizing on exams, we've been emphasizing on dates, different actors have actually have different goals. And so when you measure it, we as much as we are measuring learning crisis, we also measuring incoherence, we are measuring these kind of different goals, among different factors, that has been the prevailing situation. And so what we're trying to manage land in crisis is actually trying to manage that incoherence. So it's what we need to do is how do we then bring these actors in terms of alignment of objectives, such that, don't let us just talk about the numbers of people that are not learning. When we're talking about the solutions, let's talk about let parents see their role in that process. Let the teachers, let them see what they need to be doing. Because sometimes teachers come to school, they enter the classrooms but if that is not making any progress, we need to have the question what the teacher needs to do so that everybody's on the same line, the teachers, the parents, the government, the curriculum. So I think it's, in a way is an exercise to bring every one of the key actors together, and how do we bring them together? And I think it's one of, we need to create a system whereby people actually we could we could speak together we need to also create this data system that we can really see whether they are moving in terms of objectives-wise. Are they working in order to reinforce the goal of learning, or are they working at various targets too. So measuring it creates a kind of platform where we speak about it, and we track it. I think it's what we need to start doing. But I think it also brings the role of the donors. I mean, it's not just about funding big interventions, the big innovations, but also we need to be part of the solutions, and how do we be part of solutions, interventions to really address the inquiries, bringing them together, ensuring that we are thinking about the same kind of well defined objectives around learning, I think it's part of what we need to actually have a concerted effort on. So it's not a kind of tragedy, it's a kind of join towards what we need to achieve in terms of reversing the long period towards which we've left nothing, we've not understood the system. And we have allowed everyone to actually work at various from one another. So bringing that various people in that system together. And I think that's actually what the RISE system work really, really tried to emphasize. So maybe I'm saying it's the way RISE System Framework, really is suggesting that we actually need to think about this problem as a systemic problem. Whereby we need to be working hand in hand, we need to be working towards the same purpose, and we need to actually change that narrative. And I think that's the starting point is addressing the problem.

Julius Atuhurra:

Absolutely. That's quite RISE-y. I must agree. So measuring, learning and everything that goes on around school and alignment of goals or, and coherence across the different actors, is a very, very RISE-y messages. Thank you, Adedeji. So Deji, you thank you very much for appearing on the RISE Podcast.

Adedeji Adeniran:

Thank you.

RISE Programme:

Thank you for listening to our podcast today. And if you liked it, be sure to check out our research at or follow us on social media @RISEProgramme. You can find links to the research mentioned and other workshops under the description for this podcast episode. The RISE podcast is brought to you by the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE Programme) through support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.





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