The large-scale uptake of evidence-based interventions is often limited across education programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. This leads to poor learning outcomes. However, we can change this rapidly with the right set of actions.
Around ninety percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot read a basic sentence by the time they turn ten. Often this is due to the poor use of evidence in policy-making and implementation.
Several practices from around the world have emerged that can help change this.
These practices fall into three categories:
Identifying consequential evidence
Identifying consequential evidence is central to ensuring traction with policy-makers
Three factors are critical for this:
Evidence must be relevant to the priorities and context of the system.
It must be generated through a process that is acceptable to and inclusive of key system leaders.
It must provide insight that can validly and reliably answer questions of policy or practice.
Developing trust-based relationships
Building long-term, trust-based relationships that will allow implementers to work with system actors sustainably is equally important.
The following practices are essential:
Conducting influence-mapping: Identifying the most influential, even if not the most senior, leaders to enlist as champions of the work. Explicitly mapping those individuals and their relationships can be a powerful activity for implementers to undertake early on.
Leveraging reputations and key personalities: Advocacy from trusted internal voices for evidence-based reform can be a powerful way to ensure buy-in from political leadership and ensure the long-term sustainability of the effort.
Remaining consistent, reliable and persistent in delivering messages and insights to ensure key actors remain focused and clearly understand the necessary changes.
Ensuring impactful communication
Having carefully planned approaches to communication can strengthen the reach and impact of evidence.
Practices that are important include:
Using impactful visuals: Converting facts into easily digestible charts, graphs, and infographics is an essential part of driving change at scale.
Using evidence from the field: Organizing field visits to showcase challenges, as well as progress, can get stakeholders more personally connected to the solution.
Using diverse channels: Implementers must reduce dependency on structured meetings and consider using more dynamic communication strategies, such as informal settings or even social media to garner the support of political leaders and decision-makers.
More governments need to use evidence as they plan their response to the learning crisis. With the right combination of practices, this can happen rapidly.