The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education worldwide, especially in low-income countries. After the long-term school closures due to the pandemic in Madagascar, the Ministry of Education conducted training on basic reading and writing pedagogy, called “Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL),” for primary teachers and community volunteers. The training was a part of a package of interventions that aimed to strengthen the capacity of school management committees (SMC) to lead extra-curricular remedial activities using TaRL. In Madagascar, the package was scaled up progressively to increase the coverage of regions, which created a quasi-experimental situation for areas near the border of neighboring regions with similar social backgrounds. This study used the setting to investigate the impact of the scaled-up interventions on basic reading for primary students, employing a difference-in-differences strategy. With the foundation of the improved capacity of the SMCs, the TaRL training increased the proportion of grade 2 through 4 students who could read words written in the local language by 15.9 percentage points and those who could read a story by 3.1 percentage points. In addition to survey data on students, this study also analyzed assessment data at the school level. These results suggest that these impacts were realized widely across the targeted region. The case of Madagascar indicates that it is possible to improve learning at scale through extra-curricular remedial activities organized by SMCs toward the learning recovery.
Keywords: Educational development, COVID-19 pandemic, Basic reading, School management, Sub-Saharan Africa