With contract extension, LSI will continue work in Ethiopia on training teachers in reading instruction

Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, Ed.D., at left, is principal investigator on the project and senior research associate with LSI’s Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development. Carla Paredes-Drouet, at right, is an early childhood education and development specialist with more than eight years of international experience who is assisting on the project. Paredes-Drouet, a native of Quito, Ecuador, is also a Ph.D. student in FSU’s College of Education.

A team of experts from FSU’s Learning Systems Institute has received extended funding to continue work with officials and educators in Ethiopia to reform reading instruction in the African nation.

“This is a challenging project, because Ethiopia has one of the most inclusive policies on language of instruction, with more than 20 mother tongue languages being used in classrooms,” said Dr. Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, the principal investigator and a senior research associate with the Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development, part of the Learning Systems Institute.

The FSU team in Ethiopia, including Drs. Marion Fesmire and Adrienne Barnes, is working alongside local educators to develop up to seven modules (textbooks) in seven national languages and English.

FSU is a partner to RTI International on the project, “Reading for Ethiopia Achievement Developed Technical Assistance,” which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. With the new contract extension, the funding for FSU’s portion of the project now exceeds $2.2 million.

“This project is designed to ensure that reading and writing skills are sufficiently developed in the primary school in the seven most widely spoken languages.” said Ramos-Mattoussi. “Our FSU team focuses on development of teacher education, curriculum and materials and on training of teacher educators.”

The project’s goals are ambitious — it expects to reach 15 million children in all schools and all regions of Ethiopia.

Read more about this project at http://fla.st/1Pvd4TX.

CISERD’s project on teacher training highlighted by Indonesian media

The Center for International Studies in Educational Research and Development’s US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership was given feature attention recently by the media in Indonesia.

A workshop at Semarang State University in Central Java, part of CISERD’s US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership; second from right is Dr. Marion Fesmire of FSU-Panama City, who is working with CISERD on this project.

The partnership, a 2.5-year project to enhance the quality of effectiveness of pre-service teacher training in early grade reading, is a set of activities under the overall USAID PRIORITAS Project implemented by Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to improve access to quality education for children in Indonesia.

“As a manifestation of the commitment to develop the culture of literacy, Semarang State University (UNNES) and Florida State University (FSU), facilitated by USAID Prioritas, work together [and are] synergistically developing literacy teaching materials or modules in the Hall of the Faculty of Education, located on UNNES’ Sekaran North Campus,” according to the article.

“Literacy-based learning concepts should be explored and used in preference to old teaching models that still exist,” said Dr. Edi Purwanto, M.Si., the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, the Faculty of Education, UNNES. “In (today’s) teaching practices, using literacy-based instructions and basing the teaching on research are still uncommon. It is hoped that through this collaboration, the concepts of literacy-based instructions can expand nationwide.”

Feiny Sentosa, the Deputy Director of USAID Prioritas, said that reading and literacy skills of school students and university students should be developed early. “Students’ reading and comprehension skills need to be improved,” Feiny said. “Students might be able to read fluently; however, when they are asked intrinsic questions, many of them are not able to give proper or right answers. That is what we need to anticipate early.”

The article notes the participation in the workshop of Dr. Marion Fesmire of FSU-Panama City, who is working with CISERD on this project.

Dr. Helen N. Boyle, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education and a member of the CISERD faculty, is principal investigator of the US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership.

The project’s $500,000 funding is from the U.S. Agency for International Development and RTI International.

Read more about the US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership here.


Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski honored for paper on child soldiers of Sierra Leone’s civil war

The Comparative and International Education Society has honored the Learning Systems Institute’s Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski for outstanding scholarly writing that explores themes related to people of African descent.

CIES honoree Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski: “Returning to school is one of the most powerful means of normalizing children’s lives after a conflict.”

The society gave Dr. Zuilkowski its Joyce Cain Award for Distinguished Research for her paper in the August 2014 edition of Comparative Education Review. Her paper examines the impact of two categories of post-war interventions on dropout among more than 500 boys and girls who fought in Sierra Leone’s civil war. More than 15,000 child soldiers were involved in the war, which divided the West African nation from 1991 to 2002.

“We found that social support and family financial support for education are far more powerful in preventing dropout than internationally funded programs such as the payment of school fees on behalf of former child combatants,” said Dr. Zuilkowski, who joined the Learning Systems Institute in 2013. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in FSU’s College of Education.

Dr. Zuilkowski said the findings are relevant to current conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of children and youth are serving as armed combatants.

“Our data suggest that international organizations should find ways to support local means of reintegration rather than using more invasive interventions, such as processing children through lengthy programs in formal centers for rehabilitation and reintegration,” she said. “Returning to school is one of the most powerful means of normalizing children’s lives after a conflict, and failing to successfully reintegrate young people may have a destabilizing effect on countries in the long term.”

The Comparative and International Education Society’s Joyce Cain Award honors the memory of Joyce Lynn Cain of Michigan State University and her dedication to introducing individuals across ethnic boundaries to African culture.

The Joyce Cain Award is Dr. Zuilkowski’s second honor for publication excellence. Last year, the British Journal of Educational Psychology awarded her its Early Stage Career Research Prize for her paper on malaria prevention and school dropout in the Gambia, published in its September 2014 issue.