Formative assessment places student learning at the heart of teaching (Ethiopia)

School children in Ethiopia
UNICEF /2018 / Mamo


Since 2013, the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, supported by UNICEF, led a formative assessment initiative called Assessment for Learning (AfL), which equips teachers with skills, resources and a supportive environment to shift their teaching to become more engaging for students, with the ultimate goal of improving learning outcomes. As of March 2019, AfL in Ethiopia impacted 361,880 children (48.5 per cent girls) from 676 schools whose reading in mother tongue and Mathematics showed improvements. In 2020, AfL became embedded nationally in primary schools, through UNICEF support, and pre-primary schools, through World Bank support, as well as in all refugee camps. The Government has now fully taken over AfL operations in all regions. 

With recent COVID-19-related school closures, the need for continuous assessment and recording of student progress has become all the more prominent when students switched to blended learning, building from the vast progress achieved through the AfL initiative. Various evaluations revealed that children had greater enthusiasm for and participation in their learning, leading to increased attendance and reduced drop-out rates. Communication between teachers and parents increased, and there were substantial positive impacts on learning in mother tongue and Mathematics. Overall, teaching and assessment styles have improved, specifically by better monitoring student progress, which enabled teachers to tailor instruction to individual learners’ needs, including for those who were lagging behind.