The Menlo Roundtable

Education Policy in Rwanda

Comprehensive solutions are needed to create effective literacy growth. Research on comprehensive literacy solutions has been done by Dr. Aaron Benavot, a professor at the University of Albany who focuses on comparative education research and global education policy.

Benavot argues that in the 21st century, there are many factors that impact the learning of literacy and provides many guiding ideas about how to address the topic of literacy improvement. His recommendations in pursuing literacy research are shown to ensure maximum efficacy in the creation of thorough solutions. First, it is crucial to make literacy solutions context-specific. Following this advice, my research has focused specifically on literacy programs in Rwanda, a country of 13 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, in order to determine the main cultural practices and challenges in the country’s educational programs. This evaluation of cultural contexts also prevents irrelevant content and pedagogy in literacy programs. Furthermore, it is crucial to think comparatively about literacy policies across contexts to analyze emergent themes. In this way, solutions around the world that have been applied to literacy challenges can be evaluated in the way they could impact Rwanda’s educational progress. Benavot also outlines harmful practices in literacy research. Having multiple definitions of literacy is problematic for research and interventions as it makes the goals of the endeavor unclear. For this reason, I have chosen to narrow in on early literacy, including pre-primary (before grade 1) and primary level students (grades 1-3), with the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) as my definition of literacy skills. 

Photo: Photo by Patrick Tomasso (courtesy of