On January 24 – International Day of Education – the United States announced its return to Madagascar’s educational development sector nearly 15 years after suspending its education programs in the wake of the country’s 2009 political crisis.
Under a new, five-year, $10 million Foundational Skills for a Better Future – Lova project, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with the National Ministry of Education to improve literacy, math, and socio-emotional instruction for 65,000 learners in 500 primary schools, enhance professional development for 1,500 teachers, and improve learning outcomes in two underserved regions of the South and Southeast.
“Madagascar’s children have extremely low levels of foundational reading and math,” USAID Mission Director Michele Russell said. “We anticipate this project will be a first step to improve education for millions of learners across the country.”
According to the World Bank, 96 percent of Malagasy students aged 6 to 10 cannot read a simple paragraph by the end of primary school. In addition, fewer than 4 percent of primary teachers have the basic pedagogical and subject matter knowledge to teach and lack support from administration. These challenges are aggravated by the combined effects of persistent poverty, climate change, and food insecurity.
The Lova project will align with national learning goals and build on USAID’s earlier successful contribution to the development of an early grade reading curriculum. The program will provide teacher training and learning materials and remedial classes focused on basic reading and math, all based on the latest evidence-based teaching methods.
Lova will be implemented by FHI 360 and its partners in Atsimo Atsinanana and Androy, where education indicators for quality and access are among the lowest in the country. These regions are also among the most vulnerable in terms of climate-related disasters and offer strategic entry points for leveraging other U.S.-funded initiatives.
The Lova project name was inspired by the Malagasy proverb Ny fianarana no lova tsara indrindra, which means “Education is the best inheritance.”