Summary: Multigrade teaching is an increasingly important policy option for African countries as they seek to provide schooling for out-of-school children in areas of low population density. In multigrade teaching, a teacher works with students from two or more grade levels at the same time, in a single classroom. This study examines the challenges of implementing and supporting multigrade teaching through case studies of multigrade schooling in Uganda, Senegal, and The Gambia. These three countries offered different perspectives. In Uganda the schools observed mainly used one teacher to teach two grades, and had benefitted from a pilot project that had provided specialist training for teachers and additional learning materials. In Senegal, there were different models of multigrade schooling, including some experimental one-teacher schools. In The Gambia, multigrade teaching was being used largely by default, as shortages of teachers left some schools with more classes than teachers. From these three very varied cases, some general patterns emerged. Multigrade teaching was widely used in all three countries. It was estimated that 20 percent of primary schools in Uganda and 18 percent in Senegal had some multigrade classes. In most cases this use of multigrade teaching was not part of a planned initiative, but a practical response to teacher shortages. Multigrade teaching is a promising option for provision of education services in small schools. In Uganda the quality of the pilot multigrade schools was perceived to be comparable to monograde schools in the same area, attendance and retention were higher, and examination results were similar.
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