Report: Class Three pupils can’t read, do basic maths

By Rawlings Otieno                                     

Kenya: Less than two out of 10 pupils in the third year of primary school can read or do basic mathematics, a new study has revealed.

According to the report titled Are Our Children Learning? Literacy and Numeracy Across East Africa and released by Uwezo, children are not learning basic literacy skills.

Uwezo is a four-year initiative that aims to improve competencies in literacy and numeracy among children aged between six to 16 in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The study further indicates that by the time pupils reach the last year of primary school, one out of five East African children still have not acquired the basic literacy and numeracy skills.

In Kenya, six out of 10 children aged 10 to 16 possess both literacy and numeracy skills at Grade (Primary) 2 level, while in Tanzania five out of 10 do and in Uganda the figure is four out of 10.

Kenyan districts dominate the top 10 when ranking all districts in the region. However, Kenya is also home to the worst performing district in East Africa, demonstrating stark inequalities in the country. Ugandan districts, on the other hand, occupy all but one of the bottom 10 places and tend to do worse overall than the other two countries.

In all three countries — Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda — children in urban areas outperform their rural peers and children from wealthier families show stronger learning outcomes than those from poorer households.

Learning outcomes

The report paints a grim picture that East African countries children are united by poor learning outcomes but divided by geography and wealth.

The assessment reveals that most of the children are not mastering basic literacy and numeracy skills.

The gap between the poorest households and the least poor is over 20 per cent points in all three countries.

The findings released by Uwezo shows that data on learning outcomes, school conditions, and households were collected in every district across the region through citizen-led household-based assessments.

Uwezo assessed just under 350,000 children aged six to 16 in over 155,000 households in 362 districts in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.