TaRL Africa team members participate in a science activity during a study tour to India. Photo: TaRL Africa
Learning is constant in TaRL Africa. Since international travel restrictions relaxed, several team members have been visiting TaRL programming across the world to understand the approach better. Many team members are travelling to India, where one of TaRL Africa’s founding partners, Pratham Education Foundation, pioneered TaRL. Toward the end of August, members of the senior management team (SMT) visited Pratham programmes in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. While members of the Content and Training teams as well as the Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation (MLE) teams visited programmes in Gujarat and Maharashtra in November 2022.
During their visits, TaRL Africa teams observed a wide spectrum of education programming including TaRL programmes. In a LinkedIn post, Titus Syengo, TaRL Africa’s Executive Director, recounted a particularly fun TaRL session during which the teacher asked learners to group all visitors by their height. “We quickly became learning materials for the children, and truly the children were having fun deciding on who was taller and who was shorter,” he said. For Daniele Ressler, Director of TaRL Africa’s MLE team, the learning journey to India helped her to identify multiple contradictions and tensions that can co-exist in education programmes and how she can help to make them better. “I have observed different perspectives in person, which are not documented in books or literature. This is extremely useful when you work with programmes,” she said.
During these visits, multiple discussions were also held on a variety of topics ranging from organisational culture to opportunities for innovation with senior government officials in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat as well as Pratham’s senior leadership. These included talks with Dr. Rukmini Banerji, Pratham’s CEO, and Co-founders, Dr. Madhav Chavan and Farida Lambay.
The meetings left team members with a lot of food for thought. For instance, during a reflection workshop TaRL Africa colleagues, Chavi Jain, Deputy Director, MLE; Carla Campos, Programme Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire; and Guy-Edgar, Content and Training Associate in Côte d’Ivoire, highlighted the need to foster more exchanges of ideas and opinions. “From the co-founders’ talks, we could see that ‘spirit’ was very important to organisations,” said Chavi.
The sessions also helped team members to think about organisational flexibility to keep responding to the ever-growing and ever-changing educational needs. “TaRL Africa can take note of Pratham’s journey across the spectrum of education programming and think about creating tailored solutions to suit the diverse learning needs of learners across the African continent,” said Prince Muraguri, Research Associate with the MLE team. Content and Training Associate Vellah Kadieza reflected on how flexible albeit unconventional interventions to achieve learning for work and life were discussed and observed during the learning journey.
From considering the local realities to ensuring existing resources and structures are optimised, team members considered the diverse elements needed to run education programmes smoothly in varied contexts. “We learned an important lesson, scale but consciously — don’t scale just because you have funds without focusing on organisation building and team building,” said Carla.