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The Early Grade Reading Program II (EGRP II) was a two-year, USAID-funded program that provided technical support to the Government of Nepal to scale the National Early Grade Reading Program (NEGRP). The program’s goal was to improve reading fluency and comprehension among children in grades 1-3.

EGRP II was implemented from June 2020 to May 2022. The baseline study was conducted in March 2021. A classroom-based Early Grade Reading Assessment (CB-EGRA) was used to assess students reading ability. The CB-EGRA was developed by Nepal’s Education Review Office (ERO) and is a group-administered instrument used to measure the reading abilities of early grade students.

Classroom-based EGRA (CB-EGRA)

The CB-EGRA assesses children’s reading skills. The assessment is administered by a teacher in front of a classroom. While conducting the assessment, the teacher instructs the whole class at once on each of the subtasks. Two separate assessment tools were used for grades 2 and 3. The assessment was administered in Nepali language to all students, regardless of their mother tongue.

Overall Score

Nepal’s CB-EGRA tools for both grades 2 and 3 consisted of 7 different subtasks (described below). Students were given either full credit or no score for each of the 21 questions. The overall achievement scores were calculated using a weighted average of the scores across the subtasks and are presented as a percentage.

CB-EGRA Subtasks

Nepal’s Classroom-based EGRA had a total of 7 subtasks and each subtask included 3 questions, for a total of 21 questions. For both grades 2 and 3, most subtasks were multiple-choice questions with 5 answer options (1 correct answer and 4 distractors).

Matra/Letter Identification

In Nepali, a matra is a unit of two letters that are combined with a symbol (such as an accent or other mark) that changes the sound of the vowel. Two or more matras combined to form words. The matra subtask assesses students’ ability to quickly and accurately identify these units.

In this subtask, the teacher says a word aloud and the student chooses the correct first matra (or letter).

Only grade 2.

Word & Sentence Identification

In this subtask, students had to identify the word (grade 2) or short sentence (grade 3) that the teacher read aloud, repeating 2 times.


Vocabulary is words and their meanings. This subtask measures what words students know. Research suggests children need to understand at least 90% of the vocabulary in a passage for comprehension to occur. Students were asked 3 vocabulary questions.

Word Separation

Word separation assesses the children’s ability to decode words. Decoding is the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships. This subtask measures how well children can separate the words in a sentence when all the words are joined together.

Only grade 3.


Dictation is used to assess both oral language and writing skills. Students’ ability to hear sounds and then correctly write the corresponding letters and words demonstrates their growing skill in understanding the alphabet. For this subtask, students had to write the entire sentence correctly as the teacher dictated. The teacher read the sentence 3 times.

Listening Comprehension

Listening comprehension is a measure of students’ oral language skills, which also contributes to reading. Listening comprehension measured the number of comprehension questions that students answered correctly, based on a 25-word story that the teacher read aloud 2 times.

Reading Comprehension

Comprehension is the main goal of reading—understanding what is read. Comprehension is a complex task that requires some ability in all other reading skills. Reading comprehension measured the number of comprehension questions that students answered correctly after they had read a 60-word paragraph.

Calendar Reading

Calendar reading measured students’ ability to comprehend a calendar, which can be considered a visual literacy skill. In this subtask, students were presented with a calendar and asked questions about the calendar.

Year 2021
Grade(s) 2, 3
Language Nepali
Assessment Type Regional Reading Program
Classroom-based EGRA
Classroom-based EGRA
View Country Page

Program Map

EGRP II was implemented in 38 districts. Additionally, a home- and community-based intervention was conducted in Madhesh Province—covering 8 out of the 38 districts—in response to COVID-19.

Map of Nepal

Key Findings

  • 1/4

    Developed locally, Nepal’s classroom-based EGRA is 80-85% less expensive than a traditional EGRA and is scalable—one teacher can administer to an entire class.

  • 2/4

    Out of 21 questions, on average, grade 2 students answered 6 correctly and grade 3 students answered 7 correctly.

    Bar chart of CB-EGRA average overall score (out of 21 questions). Grade 2 28%, Grade 3 32%.
  • 3/4

    Student performance varied significantly by student’s home language.

    Bar chart of CB-EGRA average overall score by home language. Grade 2 Nepali 33%, grade 2 Other 19%, grade 3 Nepali 37%, grade 3 Other 22%.
  • 4/4

    Grade 2 and 3 Reading Proficiencies

    Horizontal stacked bar chart of reading proficiency levels. Grade 2 low 65%, emergent 28%, fluent 7%. Grade 3 low 60%, emergent 27%, fluent 13%.

Program Evaluation

Building on the foundation of the first EGRP from 2015 to 2020, EGRP II (2020-2022) aimed to improve early grade literacy for students in grades 1-3 in Nepali public schools. EGRP II supported activities across all program districts, plus activities for a community- and home-based intervention response to COVID-19 in Madhesh province, which is described in more detail below.

EGRP II activities included:

  • Supporting the development and rollout of the Government of Nepal’s “Integrated Curriculum” and continuing to scale up the government’s NEGRP.
  • Building municipal- and provincial-level capacity for delivering early grade reading services.
  • Improving local governments’ ability to provide effective teacher professional support.
  • Supporting continuity of learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These activities were conducted in 38 target districts across all 7 of Nepal’s provinces.

The CB-EGRA instrument was the key tool used in the evaluation. During the baseline evaluation, a small pilot study was conducted to link student scores on the CB-EGRA to their scores on typical EGRA subtasks.

The sample of students assessed for the overall intervention consisted of a mix of students who spoke Nepali as their mother tongue, and students who spoke other languages as their mother tongue.

COVID-19 Intervention in Madhesh Province

In addition to EGRP II implementation, a customized community- and home-based learning approach was targeted to 8 districts in Madhesh Province that were heavily impacted by COVID-19. These interventions included:

  • teacher training on flexible learning approaches
  • distribution of more than 2,000 tablets pre-loaded with offline learning content, and
  • provision of books and stationery packs.

The impact of this intervention was evaluated separately from EGRP II. The sample of students assessed for the COVID-19 intervention consisted only of students who spoke other languages (not Nepali) as their mother tongue. View the impact of the program's catch-up learning activities on the Intervention Impact page.

More detailed information about EGRP II may be found in the Baseline Report: Program Impact on Student Reading Performance in the Early Grades (PDF, 6.6 MB).

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