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The Impact of an Educational Media Intervention to Support Children’s Early Learning in Rwanda

  • Dina L. G. BorzekowskiEmail author
  • Agnes Lucy Lando
  • Sara H. Olsen
  • Lauren Giffen
Original Article

Abstract

Children in developing countries often lack sufficient support for early learning skills prior to beginning school. This research evaluates an educational media intervention using an animated cartoon program, Akili and Me. The program was originally created in Tanzania to teach early learning skills. This program was adapted in content and language use in this study in Rwanda. The two-week intervention involved primary school students (mean age = 7.1 years) who were randomized into two groups (intervention and comparison group). The intervention group viewed one Akili and Me episode a day for five days. This viewing was repeated the following week. Similarly, the comparison watched the same amount of television but the content consisted of local popular programs. Baseline and follow-up assessments evaluated 10 areas of early learning, using an adaptation of the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA), and also children’s media receptivity. At follow-up, children in the intervention program, Akili and Me, had significantly higher scores for counting, number recognition, shape knowledge, letter identification, color identification, body part recognition, health knowledge, and vocabulary. The analyses provide promising evidence that locally produced educational media interventions can impact early learning skills, even among children living in resource-poor communities.

Keywords

Media receptivity Television Numeracy Literacy School readiness skills Rwanda 

Résumé

Dans les pays en développement, il manque souvent aux jeunes enfants un soutien suffisant au développement de leurs habiletés d’apprentissage avant l’entrée à l’école. Cette recherche évalue une intervention par média éducatif au moyen d’un programme de dessins animés, Akili et Moi. Le programme a été créé à l’origine en Tanzanie afin d’enseigner des habiletés d’apprentissage préscolaire. Le contenu et la langue de ce programme ont été adaptés pour utilisation dans le cadre de cette étude au Rwanda. L’intervention de deux semaines a été menée auprès d’élèves du primaire (âge moyen = 7,1 ans), lesquels ont été répartis au hasard en deux groupes (groupe expérimental et groupe témoin). Le groupe d'intervention vu Un épisode Akili et Moi par jour pendant cinq jours. Ce visionnement a été répété comme suit la semaine. De même, la comparaison a regardé la même quantité de télévision mais le contenu était composé de programmes populaires locaux. Les évaluations de base et de suivi ont évalué 10 domaines d’apprentissage préscolaire en utilisant une adaptation de l’International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA, Évaluation internationale du développement et de l’apprentissage précoce), ainsi que la réceptivité des enfants au média. Au suivi, les enfants du programme expérimental Akili et Moi ont obtenu des résultats significativement plus élevés pour le comptage, la reconnaissance des chiffres, la connaissance de formes, l’identification de lettres, l’identification de couleurs, la reconnaissance des parties du corps, la connaissance en santé et le vocabulaire. Les analyses indiquent de façon prometteuse que les interventions avec des médias éducatifs produits localement peuvent avoir un impact sur les habiletés d’apprentissage préscolaire, même chez des enfants vivant dans des communautés manquant de ressources.

Resumen

Los niños en paises en vías de desarrollo con frecuencia no cuentan con apoyo suficiente para mejorar sus habilidades tempranas de aprendizaje antes de iniciar la etapa escolar. Este estudio evalúa un caso de intervención educativa de medios de comunicación que utiliza un programa de caricaturas animado llamado Akili y Yo. El programa fue creado inicialmente en Tanzania para fomentar habilidades tempranas de aprendizaje. El contenido y lenguaje de este programa se adaptó para ser usado en este estudio en Ruanda. La intervención de dos semanas incluyó estudiantes de escuela primaria (Edad media = 7,1 años) quienes fueron distribuidos al azar en dos grupos (grupo de tratamiento y grupo de comparación). El grupo de intervención visto. Un episodio de Akili y Yo por día durante cinco días. Esta vista se repitió lo siguiente. semana. Del mismo modo, la comparación vio la misma cantidad de televisión pero El contenido consistía en programas populares locales. Las evaluaciones iniciales y de seguimiento incluyeron diez áreas de aprendizaje temprano utilizando una adaptación del método de Evaluación Internacional de Desarrollo y Aprendizaje Temprano (IDELA, por su abreviatura en inglés) así como también la receptividad de los niños a los medios. En la etapa de seguimiento, los niños en el programa de tratamiento, Akili y Yo, obtuvieron puntajes significativamente más altos en las áreas de conteo, reconocimiento numérico, conocimiento de formas geométricas, identificación de letras, identificación de colores, reconocimiento de partes del cuerpo, conocimiento de temas de salud, y vocabulario. Los análisis brindan evidencia alentadora de que las intervenciones educativas de medios de comunicación producidos localmente pueden impactar las habilidades de aprendizaje temprano, incluso en niños que viven en comunidades de bajos recursos.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We greatly appreciate the hard work of Mussa Chale and Darius Singpurwalla in conducting this study. This work was supported by the University of Maryland Tier 1 Incentive Program.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication, School Of Language, Communication and Performing ArtsDaystar University, Nairobi CampusNairobiKenya
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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