Paula MacKinnon

Director for Education, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion - Impact(Ed) International
1576278471 V2 Photo CFP 108

Paula MacKinnon

Director for Education, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion - Impact(Ed) International


Paula MacKinnon is Director for Education, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion at Impact(Ed) International (Formerly Discovery Learning Alliance). She is a trained teacher with a Masters in Equity Issues and over 25 years in the education sector. Paula has developed and contributed to a range of print and digital resources including a child rights series and a literacy video series, presenting at a range of conferences on topics related to girls’ education.

Professional Affiliations: AWID, International Literacy Association (ILA), Ontario College of Teachers

Co-Author: Hadiza Gidado

A Holistic Approach to Improving Girls Literacy, Learning and Life Opportunites in Northern Nigeria

Featuring the case of the Fitila Project in Kano, Nigeria, where the majority of upper primary girls’ are non-readers, the presentation will examine how a comprehensive package of support, including teacher training, intensive coaching, community mobilization, life skills support and engaging digital and video literacy content has led to accelerated learning gains for the most marginalized girls attending under-resourced schools

“With a national literacy rate of 62.02% (female 52.66%), Nigeria has struggled to define an effective, sustainable approach to improved literacy. Primary level learning outcomes remain low, particularly in the northern states, and especially for girls, children in rural settings and for those living in extreme poverty.

The Fitila Project, led by the Kano State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in partnership with Impact(Ed) International (formerly Discovery Learning Alliance) and UK Aid, through the Girls Education Challenge, is targeting 500 under-resourced primary schools in Kano state to improve learning outcomes. The project baseline indicated over 80% of Class-5 girls as non-readers, facing a range of barriers including; poverty, high pupil-to-teacher ratios, low teacher capacity, lack of literacy content, and limited social-emotional skills to persevere and overcome obstacles, including gender bias. Fitila includes
a) teacher training in literacy and numeracy with follow-up coaching, b) engaging digital and video literacy and numeracy content, c) school-community action planning, d) remedial instruction and e) life skills support delivered through clubs, utilizing an engaging video series created by Impact(Ed) and based on Camfed’s My Better World life skills curriculum. Fitila project has demonstrated results including:
* Strong impact on literacy and numeracy, far exceeding targets.
* A correlation between remedial classes and improved learning outcomes.
* Teacher training positively associated with improvements in learning outcomes.
* Girls’ associations contributed positively to girls’ self-confidence and life skills, better enabling girls to recognize their aspirations as real and achievable.
* Community action planning (CAP) training contributed positively to school-communities identifying barriers to girls’ education, creating and implementing action plans, and transforming mindsets and values placed on girls‚Äô education.

The presentation will highlight current learnings, what works and why in enhancing literacy outcomes and life chances for girls and the most vulnerable in challenging contexts.”