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University secures £2.5 million project in Africa

Press release issued: 18 October 2005

Staff and students from the University have been chosen to take part in a project to improve the quality of teaching in some of the world's most deprived regions.

Staff and students from the University of Bristol have been chosen to take part in a project to improve the quality of teaching in some of the world's most deprived regions.

The Graduate School of Education led a successful bid for Government funding for the five-year project working in Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa.

The grant of £2.5 million from the Department for International Development (DfID) is the largest ever made to the Graduate School, which heads a consortium that includes the Universities of Bath, Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Cape Coast (Ghana) and Witwatersrand (South Africa) as well as the Kigali Institute of Education (Rwanda).

The aim is to design new initiatives that will raise the quality of education for some of the world's poorest students and assist in the fight against poverty.

The partnership also hopes to leave a legacy for those countries involved by establishing centres of excellence so that they can continue the work in the future.

One of the key parts of the study will be to look at ways of improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning in subjects such as science and maths, including the use of computers.

It will also focus on improving basic literacy, encouraging community participation and improving school management.

The team in Bristol will share their own expertise by producing study courses and learning materials as well as designing teacher-training courses.

Many schools in the world's poorest countries are overcrowded with up to 80 pupils in a class, often without a roof over their heads, furniture or even textbooks and many of them have been touched by the AIDS epidemic.

Members of the Bristol team will be flying out to Africa to look at the problems at first hand by talking to teachers and parents as well as researchers on the ground.

Dr Leon Tikly, a senior lecturer in education who led the bid, said the main part of the project was to put into practice the many good ideas which have not been acted upon in the past by working with government and the private sector.

He said: "We hope to make a real difference to kids in the classroom.

"The really exciting thing is bringing to bear the practical experience we have here in Bristol and in our partner institutions focusing it on this most pressing issue."

In the past, Dr Tikly has worked as a teacher in Tanzania and a policy researcher in South Africa.

Angeline Barrett will be assisting Dr Tikly by taking charge of the Bristol-based activities.

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