Emergent Literacy and Maths Initiative

The Rwandan Emergent Literacy and Maths Initiative (ELMI) aimed at more inclusive and effective learning for all pre-school children to better prepare them for entering primary school.
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Year launched: 
Launch country: 

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting
Primary Approach: 
Save the Children Rwanda
Cambridge Education
Primary Topic: 
Education level (ISCED): 
Program Description: 

This program was piloted with support from the Innovation for Education Fund, a partnership between the Governments of Rwanda and the UK, managed by Cambridge Education


The Rwandan Emergent Literacy and Maths Initiative (ELMI) aimed at more inclusive and effective learning for all pre-school children to better prepare them for entering primary school. The project had two separate components: a first component aimed to improve the quality of teaching of literacy and Mathematics skills in early childhood development (ECD) centres. This included supporting caregivers to create a stimulating, age-appropriate and engaging learning environment. The second component worked with parents of children not able to access formal ECD services and trained them on simple activities they can do at home to support their children’s learning. The project also advocated at the national level for the integration of the ELMI approach into the new pre-primary curriculum.

ELMI has been successfully implemented in other contexts (for example, Mozambique and Bangladesh) but the approach to early years’ education was new to the Rwandan context. A parent outreach initiative in areas where there were no ECD centres was added to the delivery model in Rwanda with the aim of maximising the impact of the initiative for all children. This training of often illiterate parents to support the school readiness of their children through simple, practical learning activities in and around the house was a new way of working in Rwanda.

The ELMI activities changed the classroom environment in existing ECD centres to be more child-friendly and emphasised learning through play: children sat on the floor, there was the use of thematic corners, use of big books, use of local materials. Children actively participated and were encouraged to discover new things. ELMI boosted self-confidence. One of the committee members of a centre in which SC was working mentioned that “You can see the difference between a kid who is in an ECD Centre and a kid who isn’t - you can see it from the way they walk on the road. Kids who attend the ECD Centre have less fear and are less insecure.”

Parents were more readily engaged by being trained to do simple activities with their children that can be conducted in and around the house, in the market, etc. For example: learning counting skills by counting objects when doing small purchases, learning sorting skills during food preparation and reading together or talking about pictures in a book. The activity cards provided helped parents easily remember the ‘lessons’ and what to do.

The parenting component in particular shows interesting elements of parents’ empowerment; parents started to understand that they have something to offer to their children in terms of learning, even if they are illiterate themselves.

Highlighting Innovation: 
ELMI pilots two new components: 1) a parent outreach initiative, for parents whose children are not attending ECD Centres, to maximise impact; 2) working closely with the GoR in the design, implementation and supervision of ELMI.
Key Challenges: 
Increasing parents in early-childhood development to better prepare them for primary school success.