IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Teaching adults to read better and faster : results from an experiment in Burkina Faso


  • Abadzi, Helen


Two cognitively oriented methods were tested in Burkina Faso to help illiterates learn to read more efficiently. These were (a) speeded reading of increasingly larger word units and (b) phonological awareness training to help connect letters to speech. Learners were given reading tests and a computerized reaction time test. Although the literacy courses were shortened by the arrival of rains and government delays, the piloted methods helped adults read better than those in the standard"control"classes. Learners enrolled in the experimental classes performed better on the outcome tests than did learners enrolled in control classes. Ninety percent of the possible comparisons between treatment classes and control classes favored classes receiving treatments, and 72 percent of the measurements in favor of treatments were statistically significant. The evidence suggests that phonological awareness training is particularly effective in situations where the training period was short, and that rapid reading was more advantageous in longer training situations. Overall, the results are indicative of the potential that scientifically backed methods have in making adult literacy instruction more effective. However, due to the short duration of the classes (3-4 months) learners apparently did not receive sufficient practice to consolidate skills. Literacy skills may still be prone to being forgotten if readers do not learn to read automatically and if opportunities to read are few.

Suggested Citation

  • Abadzi, Helen, 2003. "Teaching adults to read better and faster : results from an experiment in Burkina Faso," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3057, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3057

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Helen Abadzi, 2003. "Improving Adult Literacy Outcomes : Lessons from Cognitive Research for Developing Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15136, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Deshpande, Ashwini & Desrochers, Alain & Ksoll, Christopher & Shonchoy, Abu S., 2017. "The Impact of a Computer-based Adult Literacy Program on Literacy and Numeracy: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 451-473.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Werner L. Hernani-Limarino & Paul Villarroel & Christian Valencia, 2015. "¿Libres de Analfabetismo? Evaluando la Experiencia Boliviana con el Programa Nacional de Alfabetización “Yo Si Puedo”," Working Papers 04/2015, Fundación Aru.
    2. Ulrike Hanemann, 2015. "The Evolution and Impact of Literacy Campaigns and Programmes 2000–2014," Working Papers id:7516, eSocialSciences.
    3. Gizaw, Abiy Menkir & Rogers, Alan & Warkineh, Turuwark Zalalam, 2019. "Leaving the job half done? An analysis of mid-term withdrawals by facilitators in some adult literacy learning programmes," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 194-206.
    4. Emily Smith-Greenaway, 2015. "Educational attainment and adult literacy," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(35), pages 1015-1034.
    5. Martínez, Rodrigo & Fernández, Andrés, 2010. "Impacto social y económico del analfabetismo: modelo de análisis y estudio piloto," Documentos de Proyectos 299, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3057. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Roula I. Yazigi (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.