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Scaling digital learning in Kenya

In the developing world, millions of children do not have access to basic quality education. For example, in 2012, only one-third of children in low-income countries made it to the last grade of primary school. These children leave school without acquiring the essential educational competencies of reading, writing, and numeracy. Consequently, these children do not gain the multiple social development benefits that come from greater education, such as reduction of poverty and improved health. For example, a recent analysis for the 2016 Global Education Monitoring report suggested that poverty among the working poor would fall by as much as 39% if workers from disadvantaged backgrounds had similar education levels to those from advantaged backgrounds.

The current project applies interactive multimedia software coupled with extensive professional development for teachers to enhance teaching and to improve the learning of children in Kenya. Prior projects explored the feasibility and measured the effectiveness of using ABRACADABRA (ABRA) early literacy software with emerging readers and their teachers in Kenya. Evaluations have shown that ABRA is both a feasible and an effective educational intervention. Students who use the tools on a weekly basis for several months have substantial learning gains.

The general objective of this project, implemented by Concordia University, is to achieve significant, scalable, sustainable, and cost-effective increases in student learning alongside enhancements to teaching practices. It will expand the intervention to include a suite of evidence-based educational software tools (the Learning Toolkit+). The project will also explore the challenges involved in scaling up and sustaining the program; deepen our understanding of the relationship between levels of teacher support, teaching practices, and student learning outcomes; and promote improved educational technology-related policies and practices in Kenya.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
44 months
IDRC Officer
Matthew Smith
Total Funding
CA$ 580,000.00
Education and Science
Education and Science
Networked Economies
Institution Country
Project Leader
Philip Abrami
Concordia University



The effects of ABRACADABRA on reading outcomes : an updated meta-analysis and landscape review of applied field research


Teaching and learning with technology in Sub-Saharan Africa


Sustainability and scalability of digital tools for learning : the learning toolkit plus in Kenya


Promoting young Kenyans’ growth in literacy with educational technology : a tale of two years of implementation