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The FDK (Federation Dimbaya Kanyalen) project aims to raise reading outcomes by implementing a micro level reading skills acquisition approach, Stratégie Active pour la Réusite d’une Ecole Novatrice (SARENA), intended originally to be complemented by comparative data. The SARENA approach is designed for French speaking students in their first two years of primary school. SARENA uses a very global methodology, in that, it heavily features word shape and text memorization. Development of decoding skills is less stressed. For the sake of external relations, the district-level academic inspectorate received additional training and was made responsible for monitoring, despite its recognized inability to perform well in this capacity. FDK also features community/parental involvement through the acquisition and use of mobile phones to facilitate communication between teachers and parents. Other partners include the Bureau Artichaut of Dakar which provides training and materials for SARENA.
The implementation process includes background level research on the target area and individual students involved in the test group, acquisition of appropriate teaching/learning materials, teacher/director/monitor training, provision and training in the use of mobile phones for parent-teacher communication, classroom instruction monitored by IEF (Academic Inspectorate) and school directors, in-service training, periodic formative evaluations, end line assessment and analysis. It should be noted that math was dropped from the project goals due to lack of available expertise.
The SARENA approach was attempted by FDK two years earlier. However, that attempt was so poorly executed that the merits of the approach itself were not assessable. This first attempt was also poorly evaluated, giving the false impression that it had succeeded while the data showed that the approach produced equal, and in some cases less, increase in learning than did the control group.
This project ranks rather low on the use of best practices.