Looking back, moving forward: Reflections from TaRL Africa’s Executive Director

A learner in Borno, Nigeria, participates in a maths activity. Credits: TaRL Africa

Warm New Year’s greetings for 2024 to all our readers, staff and partners.

 

As we kick off the new year, we reflect on the remarkable achievements of the past year in the field of education. The landscape is evolving, and the momentum for change has propelled the widespread adoption of Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL). Education stakeholders are actively seeking ways to help children bridge the gap in foundational skills, and our efforts have played a pivotal role in this transformation.

 

In 13 Sub-Saharan African countries, including a successful pilot in Guinea, we have collaborated with governments and partners to advance TaRL programming. Excitingly, two new government partnerships have been formed, and pilots are set to launch in 2024. The impact has been substantial, reaching over 5 million children and demonstrating a remarkable improvement of over 20 percentage points in learning outcomes from baseline to endline assessments. Both government-led and NGO-led models have surpassed the ambitious targets set when TaRL Africa was launched in 2019.

Alongside the rapid growth of the TaRL approach, we’ve focused on strengthening skills, research, and organisational capacity in Africa. Engaging with governments in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Zambia, we are actively working towards national scale-up and institutionalisation of the TaRL approach. This involves integrating the approach into foundational skills strategies, exploring its inclusion in pre-service teacher education, aligning with budgets, and discussing curriculum adjustments. Notably, in Zambia, the Ministry of Education plans to implement Catch Up in all provinces by 2026, fully funded by the government, showcasing a commitment to remedial and accelerated learning without heavy NGO support. In Côte d’Ivoire, the Ministry of National Education and Literacy (MENA) has expanded the Programme d’Enseignement Ciblé (PEC) in the North of Côte d’Ivoire, demonstrating a dedication to scaling up PEC within the national strategy for remedial education. In Nigeria, the program has expanded to cover five states, with some state governments funding their own implementation costs.

Furthermore, we have intensified our focus on developing Africa-based research, with rigorous evaluations and mixed-methods studies addressing country-specific challenges. Our content and training team is growing on the African continent, enhancing our ability to contextualise and adapt the approach to local needs.

Looking ahead, we are enthusiastic about continuing our collaboration with governments and partner organisations to enhance the learning outcomes of millions of children. With the final years of the initially drafted TaRL Africa strategy in sight, we are challenging ourselves to think creatively about the best ways to increase our impact in the future. The upcoming year will bring an updated 5-year strategy, along with a co-created vision for TaRL institutionalisation across our core countries, expansion into new countries, and various avenues for applying TaRL principles more broadly.

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