The Botswana Ministry of Education, the University of Botswana, and Stepping Stones International, have undertaken an empirical study of the University of Utah Reading Clinic’s (UURC) model for helping teachers make challenging grade-level text and word study accessible to students with a wide variance in reading ability. The study is ambitious: 25 treatment primary schools and 25 control primary schools with approximately 30,000 students. The study faces some unique challenges. Assessments must be loaded onto buses that travel hundreds of miles over rough roads. Student demographic information is often recorded by hand on paper. Trainers, Observers, and Assessors must be transported, housed and fed in remote regions of the country.
This undertaking is the fruition of multi-year collaboration between Stepping Stones International (a non-profit NGO located in Mochudi, Botswana), the UURC, and the Ministry. That collaboration has received support from the University of Utah Office for Global Engagement and extensive personal time on the part of several UURC staff members. Efforts have focused primarily on building capacity in-country for teacher education. For example, in March, 2017, four teacher educators (Johanna Morwe, Connie Mogara, Emmanuel Kenosi and Changu Pagiwa) spent a month as teacher education interns at the UURC. During that time, they interacted extensively with UURC Intervention Specialists, as well as, teachers and students at Escalante Elementary School in Salt Lake City School District. During this time, the Botswana interns gained valuable implementation and training experience under the supervision of UURC Specialists.
From there, UURC teacher professional development in Botswana began in earnest. The former interns (now, Master Trainers) have been deluged with requests from educators in urban and remote areas. Like teachers anywhere, when Botswana educators recognize credible evidence of student progress, they want to engage!