TaRL Africa’s team in Nigeria supports Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) programming across seven states – Borno, Kano, Kebbi, Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, and Kaduna.  While there are variations in the design of the programs across the different states, in all states, primary four to primary six children are assessed and grouped by learning level rather than age or grade. TaRL programmes focus on foundational literacy (Kanuri in Borno and English) and Maths for one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours a day.  TaRL Africa provides technical support to the state governments, and in some states, through UNICEF or the British Council. 

State Programmes

In September 2018, the Borno State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and State Ministry of Education, with support from UNICEF, Plan International, TaRL Africa, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), launched a six-month TaRL pilot in 12 schools reaching about 9000 children in Borno State. This was the first TaRL pilot in Nigeria and the first time TaRL had been piloted in a conflict setting. During the pilot period, children able to read a simple paragraph increased from 14 percent to 45 percent. The ratio of children able to do a simple subtraction rose from 11 percent to 59 percent. The pilot established a vital proof point showing that TaRL could be effective in maths and Hausa in Nigeria and provided the basis for expanding TaRL work in the country. In 2021, TaRL Africa began working closely with UNICEF as they planned for TaRL to expand within Borno and to the bordering states of Adamawa and Yobe. Due to the priorities of state governments, the expansion incorporated an approach designed to develop English skills, Language Learning From Familiar to Formal (L2F2) developed by Pratham. This was another first for Borno – being part of the states that first piloted the L2F2 approach in Nigeria. This approach uses mother tongue – Hausa or Kanuri, to help learners learn a second language. By 2023, Borno state is sustaining the program in 8 Local Government Areas (LGAs) while FCDO through UNICEF is supporting 3 LGAs. In Yobe, the state government is sustaining in 6 LGAs while FCDO/UNICEF is in 3 LGAs. Adamawa State government is sustaining the TaRL program across 8 LGAs.

The Kano program began in 2019 as the Kano Literacy and Math Accelerator (KaLMA) program. KaLMA was led by the Kano state government with support from the Sa’adautu College of Education and technical support from the British Council and TaRL Africa. Primary four to six children across 181 schools in two (2) LGAs were taught three subjects – Hausa, English, and Math for 2 hours a day. After the preliminary arrangements were concluded in 2019, classroom implementation commenced in January 2020. After three months of implementation, schools were closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to the introduction of the Home-Based Learning (HBL) initiative in May 2020. When schools resumed after the long closure the KaLMA programme implementation commenced in January 2021 and ran till August 2021. By the endline assessment, 25 percent of children could read in Hausa as against 7 percent during the baseline. In English, children who could read English words increased from 11 percent to 36 percent, while in Math children who could solve two-digit by two-digit subtraction increased from 4 percent to 22 percent. With these improvements, the programme was scaled-up to 5 additional LGAs in 2021 bringing the total number of LGAs to 7.

The Kebbi Foundational Skills Accelerator (KeFSA) pilot program was implemented by the Kebbi State SUBEB with TaRL Africa providing technical support in Birnin Kebbi and Aliero LGAs. The goal was to fast-track pupils’ skills in reading and mathematics by adapting the TaRL approach to teaching. KeFSA commenced implementation in May 2021. One-and-a-half hours daily were dedicated to TaRL classes for two consecutive terms, where children were grouped by their learning levels and taught using level-appropriate materials to help them acquire foundational literacy and numeracy skills. KeFSA was implemented in 122 schools and reached over 20,000 pupils, pupils in grades 4 to 6, and concluded after six months in November 2021. The endline assessment results indicated there was a 28 percentage point improvement in the number of pupils who could not read words in Hausa and a 25 percentage point improvement in pupils who could not recognize 2-digit numbers between baseline and endline assessment periods. Beyond the pilot, the state government sustained the implementation of the program in schools and has committed funds from its state treasury to strengthen the program and pilot a design that includes introducing English language literacy in the 2022/2023 academic year.

In a bid to improve children’s learning levels and bridge learning gaps, officials from Bauchi State SUBEB took part in a learning journey in Borno State in November 2021, to see TaRL in action and to learn how to adopt the approach in Bauchi State. As a result of this learning journey, the officials found the TaRL approach useful and were inclined to pilot the approach in Bauchi State. The government-led TaRL pilot is jointly funded by the Bauchi State government and UNICEF with technical support from TaRL Africa and was implemented in 232 schools in Alkaleri local government area. For two terms, children were taught using the L2F2 methodology and Numeracy every school day for 2 hours. By the end of the pilot, UNICEF and the state government scaled up the approach to 2 additional LGAs and sustained in the pilot LGA.

The Kaduna State government recognized the need to improve foundational skills (especially literacy and numeracy) and is committed to curbing the risk of children transiting to junior secondary levels without basic literacy and numeracy skills. With this in view, officials from the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board and the Ministry of Education took part in a learning journey to Borno State coordinated by UNICEF in November 2021. The learning journey resulted in the government seeing the benefits of the TaRL approach and discussions on a pilot commenced. The state and UNICEF funded a pilot of the TaRL approach for 173 schools in Ikara Local Government with the technical support of TaRL Africa. The pilot was soon expanded to 2 additional LGAs – Jaba and Kaduna South. In February 2023, the Kaduna State government arranged a study tour for 20 of its personnel to visit India and learn from the state governments and implementation of the approach.  This is to improve the implementation of KadTaRL in the state.

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