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Making Strides toward the Improvement of Basic Education

  • Country: Niger
  • Course Title: Promoting a Self-Reliant Approach to Basic Education Development in Africa through Research and Dialogue, 2005 Region Focused Training and Dialogue
  • Organizer: Chugoku International Center (JICA CHUGOKU)


In 2005, JICA organized a Region Focused Training and Dialogue course centered on "Promoting a Self-Reliant Approach to Basic Education Development in Africa through Research and Dialogue" in collaboration with the Center for the Study of International Cooperation in Education (CICE) of Hiroshima University. The course took place in Japan and Indonesia in early 2006. Three Nigeriens, two researchers and one government official from the education sector participated in the course. Upon their return to Niger, they developed a successful comprehensive research project highlighting the development of basic education using the knowledge, skills and networks gained during their training course.

The Nigerien situation

Niger established a national strategy for the development of basic education, called PDDE 2003-2012 (Decennial Educational Development Plan 2003-2012). One of the objectives of the plan is to train more than 27 thousand qualified elementary school teachers by 2015. Surveys and statistics indicate that the academic performance of students in Niger is lower than that of other sub-Saharan African countries. Because educational performance is likely related to the quality of the instructors and the effectiveness of teacher training, the Nigerien government is making a concerted effort to improve the effectiveness of elementary school teachers across the country.

The goals of the JICA's training course were perfectly in line with the needs of Niger. During their four-week training period, the participants were expected to (1) gain an understanding of how higher educational institutions can help develop basic educational programs and (2) design a research plan for the development of basic education. Once the participants returned home, they were encouraged to organize seminars to share their experience with others, carefully examine the state of basic education in their own country and then communicate these research findings to a wide audience.

JICA's Training and Dialogue in action

Following their successful completion of the course, the three Nigerien participants began to evaluate the education system in their country. They began by posing this question; "Are those that educate Niger's future teachers sufficiently qualified to provide their students with the tools necessary to become effective basic education teachers?"

The establishment of this research project added considerable momentum to the PDDE movement. The Hiroshima University professor who was in charge of the training course visited Niger to help his course alumni initiate their important undertaking. With his expert advice, the content of the study was significantly enriched. The survey examined five Nigerien colleges and consisted of inquiries, observations and interviews with school directors, trainers and students. The data collected allowed the team to analyze the working environment, qualifications and teaching practices of the teacher educators.

The results of the study were made public in 2007. The investigators determined that the low quality of teacher education in Niger was a stumbling block preventing the improvement of basic education in the country. The team submitted their report to education officials to advocate that "real action for professionalism needs to be developed in a system that requires motivation and responsibility on the part of the trainers."

In response, the educational reform program in Niger was changed in 2008 to mandate

  • the lengthening of teacher education programs from one to two years, and
  • a redesign of teacher training programs across the country.

How JICA's Training and Dialogue experience has made a difference

The results of this survey were presented and shared with many other countries at the mid-term evaluation seminar organized by CICE in Uganda. This was followed by a presentation of the data at the meeting of the Africa-Asia Dialogue Project held in Paris in 2007 (UNESCO-HQ). The focus of this presentation was to describe how the findings might influence the framework of this three-year international project.


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